June 2nd, 2009
08:45 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama keeping up with Bush's reading pace?

Can Obama keep up with Bush's reading pace?
Can Obama keep up with Bush's reading pace?

(CNN) - It appears President Obama has to step up his reading pace if he wants to beat his predecessor in one particular measure: how many books a president can polish off a year.

In an interview with the BBC Tuesday, Obama said he is currently reading Joseph O'Neill's 270-page novel "Netherland," a book Obama first said he began back in April.

If Obama is close to finishing the novel, that puts him on less than a 10 book-a-year pace, far less than the close to 100 books President Bush was reportedly able to finish in the same amount of time.

According to former top Bush aide Karl Rove, he and the former president engaged in a friendly wager every year to see who could read more books.

In 2006, Bush read 95 books to Roves 110: a Herculean pace of nearly two books a week - in an election year to boot - for the ex-president. But, according to Rove, Bush's reading slowed a bit in the final years of his presidency, finishing a not-too-shabby 51 books in 2007 and at least 40 in 2008.

And if that's not impressive enough, Rove also said Bush found time to read the Bible "from cover to cover" every year.

While Obama may have had to put aside “Netherland” last month in favor of pages of court briefs with a Supreme Court vacancy to fill, it nevertheless appears the president has some summer reading to do.


Filed under: President Bush • President Obama
soundoff (301 Responses)
  1. random

    Epic fail CNN, with this sort of reporting its no wonder your ratings are going down.

    June 2, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  2. Randy, San Francisco

    This news story is a confirmation that Bush was a part time president who failed to give presidential briefing papers adequate attention.

    June 2, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  3. rosko

    I'm a two-bit lawyer and I don't have time to "read." What were those bozos thinking?

    June 2, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  4. thepoliticalcat

    Well, I'm here to tell you how George W. could read so many books in a year, when President Obama is reading so few:

    1. George only read "graphic novels," aka comic books. They're easier to read. Shorter, fewer difficult words, and so forth.

    2. President Obama actually works. It's hard to get a lot of reading done when you're also dealing with a banking crisis, the Big Three Automakers' bankruptcy, and an economy in recession. George, OTOH, took nearly two years' worth of vacation. It's easy to read on vacation!

    3. President Obama actually understands what he reads.

    June 2, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  5. Republicans are the American Taliban

    Dr. Seuss doesn't count now does it? And remember W read books upside down....

    June 2, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  6. Terry

    Every citizen has a duty to educate himself so that he or she can vote wisely and participate in the national conversation intelligently. Most of the intelligence of the human race is communicated from generation to generation by books.

    Pick up a good book on the middle east or oil or conservatism or liberalism or American history. Read it. Think about it while you're reading it. The internet has a lot of good stuff, but it's petty shallow. Mostly, you see 12,000 copies of the same thing over and over.

    The national dialog is pretty unimpressive at the moment.

    June 2, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  7. Tom

    Obama is doing a lot more of the people's business–and doing an overall good job of it, too. The same cannot be said of Bush/Cheney.

    June 2, 2009 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  8. Yvonne Lim

    Is this CNN's idea of news? It's a no brainer. Bush wasn't running the country and hence had loads of time to read. And he read his favourite `My pet goat' about 50 times.

    June 2, 2009 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  9. Unhappy Dem

    All that obama reads it seems is how to ruin a country 101. along with books by marx, lenin and mussolini

    June 2, 2009 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  10. Al Sara

    No wonder the world fell apart all bush was doing was reading comic books for 8 years, another thing I did not know that he could read.

    June 2, 2009 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  11. Jayden,FL

    HAH Bush probably just flipped the pages looking for pictures and said he "read" it!

    June 2, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  12. Proud DHS radical

    Did Obama finish the book that Hugo Chavez gave him?

    June 2, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  13. Rita

    The last book bush read was My Pet Goat.

    June 2, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  14. Rie Congelio

    I don't remember truth being a big priority in the Bush administration.

    June 2, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  15. mrspeel

    Consider, if you please, that while Bush was the presumptive POTUS, it was Dick Cheney who was actually running the country (into the ground). Thus, it's no surprise that left W plenty of time to read as many books as he wanted!

    June 2, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  16. DougDC

    Bush read 100 books a year? Setting aside the easy jokes (which are so, so tempting), if we are to assume that figure is correct, and that the books were substantial two questions come to mind (1) reading at that pace did he actually retain and understand the books. I book is to be enjoyed, contemplated, thought about, etc. A book is not a race and (2) again assuming Rove is being truthful ( ahmm . . ) it seems to me that if Bush spent more time seriously thinking and learning about the policy issues he was faced with, rather than rushing through 8 books a month, he may not have been such a dismal President.

    June 2, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  17. Bernice Waddington

    Takes a lot longer to read Netherland, than it does to read The Hungry Caterpillar and the Pet Goat.

    June 2, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  18. Corey

    Well if anybody toke 6-week vacations to middle-of-nowhere Crawford, Texas, sure he/she would get a lot reading done too...

    June 2, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  19. Brian

    Of course Bush finished 95 books. I heard his favorite was "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish".

    June 2, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  20. Freddy W.

    Well, it doesn't take that long to read "My Pet Goat."

    June 2, 2009 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  21. Paddy

    No wonder Bush had no time to take care of the country! It's a miracle the actual President still has time to even read one book per month. We are told that POTUS presently takes hundreds of pages of important files to his private quarters every night, or something to that effect. Perhaps Bush should have done the same. Defintely, the US of A is much safer now.

    June 2, 2009 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  22. wattnot

    Number of books x quality of books x reader comprehension = literacy gain.
    On this scale one suspects Obama 1, Bush 0.0000001.

    June 2, 2009 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  23. Mark

    He is going to bankrupt the country and this is what the media talks about...

    June 2, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  24. Anna L.

    The difference is that Obama is reading all government documents while Bush had people summarize them for him. That frees up a LOT of time.

    June 2, 2009 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  25. Karen

    Well that's probably because Obama is actually running the country instead of leaving all the governing to the Veep.

    June 2, 2009 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
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