From Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates to Paula Hawkins' The Girl on the Train, President Obama has been a famously well-read Commander in Chief. His book selections—ranging from vital political treatises to of-the-moment beach reads—have provided a window into the mind of a president who’s become well-loved by many for his wide-ranging cultural sensibilities.
Reading is especially crucial for our leaders. For many presidents, the written word has played an important role in decision-making. President Obama, as well as former presidents Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Carter, and Nixon, were known for reading extensively before making momentous choices, while others—such as Reagan, George W. Bush, and most significantly, President-Elect Trump—have bucked this trend, opting for oral reports and shorter memos, instead.
While a reading list certainly paints a picture of who someone is, both personally and politically, it can also paint a picture of who someone might become. The right literature has the power to change the world, catalyzing empathy and understanding in a world rife with prejudice.
One of my own resolutions for the new year is to turn to diverse writing with open eyes and an open heart. Books never cease to bear the gift of knowledge, even if you don’t quite agree with what you’re reading. I hope that literature will continue to play a key role in shaping our country's politics and instilling hope in those that need it most.
As a new administration enters office in 2017, I'm curious to know: What books would you recommend to President Trump? These can be fiction, poetry, nonfiction, even children’s books—so long as they have something important to share with our incoming president.