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. welches, oregon

    what a bunch of hogwash – "My Pet Goat" is certainly not in the same league as "Netherland". Sure the Idiot W could read 100 books a year – all less then 100 pages each.

    Again – more Hogwash from the GOP!

    June 2, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  2. Daniel Paull, M.D.

    I find it very hard to believe that George W. Bush has ever read a single book in his entire life.

    June 2, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  3. Silvia from Boca Raton Florida

    I am so glad to see that President Bush had time to read so many books a year while being President of this country. Health care, energy independence and other issues were not important I guess.

    Where are those conservatives pointing out the fact that President Obama can not keep up with that? He started "Netherland" in April, it has been 2 months ....

    June 2, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  4. Just a thought...

    Since all this reading CLEARLY didn't make him any smarter, maybe Bush should have put down the books and focused on the economy. We might not be in the cluster$#%& we're in!

    June 2, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  5. wcf

    I think I am less interested in how many books he can read in a year than I am about how he is performing as a President! Could really care less how many novels he can read when our world needs his attention more. Just my opinion.

    June 2, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  6. Steph

    I can polish off more books when I'm on a long vacation, too. I notice when I'm busy at work, I have trouble keeping up with my leasure reading.

    June 2, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  7. Turnaround

    Well, there's reading and then there's reading comprehension. Two different things entirely.

    June 2, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  8. IKE in Atlanta

    Mr Bush spent his time reading instead of caring for the economy.
    See where that got us!

    June 2, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  9. Zhonni

    Obama doesn't have that luxury. I won't be disappointed if he read less than 2 books/month.

    June 2, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  10. stiffler

    It's nice to see former President Bush had so much leisure time during his time in office.... Not like there were any pressing issues or anything.

    June 2, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  11. SM

    Did Bush include the "The Pet Goat' in his 100 books- the book he was reading for seven minutes after being told the 2nd aireplane hit the WTC on 9/11? People are dying and the country is under attack and this guy continues to read for 7 more minutes... unbelievable. What did you do when you heard about the attacks. Can you imagine sitthing there and counting to 60 seven times and then reacting?
    I have a full-time job and 2 kids and wish i could read more. 100 books? No wonder why he screwed the country up. It's 101 George- don't forget the seven minutes of Pet Goat.

    June 2, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  12. JamesW

    Thank God we have a President who is actually WORKING for the American people instead of sitting around reading romance novels in order to try and beat his Brain.

    June 2, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  13. jjgg5

    Just how many times has Bush read "Goodnight Moon"?

    June 2, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  14. zago

    Reading fast means nothing if you don't learn anything from your readings.

    June 2, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  15. Believe Again

    Yes Pres Bush could afford to read so many books because he was not as engaged with leading the country as he was elected to do (that is of course if Karl can be believed). I seriously believe that Karl Rove is not telling the truth, nothing that guy says should be believed by any sane person, he is a fraud and should actually be in jail for all his lies and criminality. However considering the hypocrisy in American politics, I seriously believe this guy will go scot free. That is justice for you!

    June 2, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  16. Aubrey Land

    This worries me slightly. I was under the impresion that Obama was the solution to the overwhelming ignorance of the former administration. I can't help but recall how Bush was portrayed as a complete idiot by the media, and how the same media has painted BHO as some kind of prodogy who is incapable of doing wrong and is superior to Bush in every way. This information must be flawed somehow, cause there's no way that Obama is not as well read as dumb ole Bushie!

    June 2, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  17. JD

    Anyone who believes the barely literate Bush read even a dozen books a year needs to get their head examined. Given how little he worked he probably had time to read hundreds, but that would take time away from the constant golfing and vacationing he took while the nation crumbled.

    June 2, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  18. Armenta Chavis

    With all due respect to former President Bush, I do not believe he read 100 books in a year or in his life. No disrespect to Bush, but I didn't think he could read!

    June 2, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  19. Statler

    Think you should check those numbers again- pop-up books don't count.

    June 2, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  20. ebissonette

    I think it's fair to say that the priorities of these two presidents are quite different. The war is still going on AND the economy is still in relative crisis. The fact that President Obama may not read the reported "100" books (including picture and pop-up) that Bush may have read, does not detract from the fact that Obama likely has less free time then did Bush for the past few years. The idea that our president actually has time to read in general tells me that the country is still in pretty good shape as a whole.

    June 2, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  21. Yolanda

    I can't believe Bush knows how to read...read what?....comic books?

    June 2, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  22. LuccaBleu

    Three things could skew that theory:
    1. Obama reads more than one book at a time (I do).
    2. Obama is re-reading Netherland
    3. Obama took a break from Netherland and read other books before re-visiting it.

    June 2, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  23. Michele

    Hmm. This could explain why Bush never knew what Cheney was cooking up. And he may have read the Bible every year, but he must have skipped the parts about Jesus and treating others the way you wish to be treated. I don't think he meant that we were to torture anyone.

    June 2, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  24. Mando

    Obama should read Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations" next. It might help him reverse from the disastrous course he has set.

    June 2, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  25. J S Ragman

    He doesn't have time for lot's of light reading. Bush probably should have spent less time reading books and more time reading his daily briefs. Had this been the case, President may have had more leisure reading time.

    June 2, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
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