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. Priscilla California

    Bush could read? Will wonders never cease.

    June 2, 2009 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  2. Susan

    Bush and Rove should have read the United States Constitution too. At least we now have a President who is reading court cases and material presented to him by staff and making informed decisions. The issue here is not simply reading a book but what book is being read. What a lame ticker.

    June 2, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  3. michael

    I remember when I first head about Bush II reading habits. In all those years I never heard any language that indicated he was a big reader. It's near impossible for that to not rub off. So I am reallt skeptical.

    And, bythe way, as someone who gets through about 1 a week, uh, Bush musn't have had a job. I mean seriously. Given his responsibilities, it's practically an impossibility.

    Last but not least, why? It takes the guy a half-decade to half change his mind vaguely, and he doesn't believe in self-reflection, apparently, on principle, if Bob Woodward is correct. So why?

    Not trying to knock him, but it doesn't make sense.

    June 2, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  4. Chris in Va.

    C'mon Dumbya........comic and coloring books don't count!

    June 2, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  5. Tristan

    It's not how many books you read, it's what you learn from them. Bush never seemed to learn anything in his 8 years as president.

    June 2, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  6. SA in OO

    Several people in the media have used the term "incurious" to describe President Bush. It now seems that characterization may not be entirely accurate. The fact that he took the time to read almost 100 books would surely suggest he was curious about somethings. His curiosity just didn't seem to spill over into the job he was paid to do.

    June 2, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  7. John-Black Hills/SD

    This is a part of the reason our nation is has suffered, we had a weak minded President doing everything except his job. I'd like to shove a 600 pager into an orifice where Bush can't turn a page without a hemostat, and a third arm. That's Roves job.

    June 2, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  8. estamm

    Sorry, but reading "My Pet Goat" 100 times does not mean that you've read '100 books'.

    June 2, 2009 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  9. Da Kine

    How embarrassing...now I understand why the decision making during the Bush years always had such a distinctive feel of grade school intellectual vigor.

    June 2, 2009 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  10. WooHoo

    LOL there is no way thats true unless they were easy readers. Rove is a liar anyway

    June 2, 2009 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  11. Sarah

    Now. maybe if Bush had spent more time reading intelligence briefings and the US constitution .... ...

    June 2, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  12. Jim

    Yeah, but "See Dick Run" doesn't qualify as a real book, King George.

    June 2, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  13. smartest FL voter

    Yeah, I believe bush has even read 100 books in his entire lifetime! Just some more of the countless LIES spewed from rove and co.

    June 2, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  14. D Bori

    Well, given Bush II's fondness for abandoning Washington regularly for his Texan "paradise" in Crawford, he surely had enough time just on Air Force 1 to read all those books. Then add in the fact that the man pretty much ran the country on autopilot (with co-pilot Cheney stepping in every once in a while to make sure things were going in his intended flight path), it's no mystery that Bush II was able to be such an ardent patron of the printed arts compared to Obama.

    June 2, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  15. Rock

    Well, that is a bit unfair. President Obama has a country to run, two wars to handle, fix the economy, etc...

    George W. had all day to read books and clear "brush" when he was President.

    June 2, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  16. David

    Maybe ex President Bush would have done a better job if he had spent more time governing and less time reading novels and going on vacation.

    June 2, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  17. Steve

    Ha. Well, if ROVE said it, it must be true. Sorry, but huge LOL.

    June 2, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  18. 100 books President Bush reportedly read, is this a set up to insult Bush?

    you must be joking, do you want Bush insulted?

    there is nothing nice to say to this post, so I will leave it, it would be like shooting fish in a barrel

    June 2, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  19. Andrew

    I got a new bet: How many books can you read that are pertinent to governing? Keep up the the hard work Mr. President, I applaud your sacrifice!

    June 2, 2009 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  20. donmcybertect

    What utter drivel. Do we want to test them on comprehension? And since when does the number of books one reads as President matter? Bush spent a lot of time in Crawford clearing brush too. Oh wait, that was for the cameras. And, there was that reading he was doing while the Trade Centers were dropping...does that count? Dont we have anything better to go on here guys?

    June 2, 2009 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  21. TjayeInLA

    I think this is because he is actually working. Had Bush been reading the intelligence reports instead of Dr. Seuss, maybe he would have seen 9/11 coming.

    June 2, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  22. Tuna

    It looks like Bush should have been reading a lot more books on economics!!!!!

    June 2, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  23. Steve

    Well, that explains it. Nero fiddled while Rome burned and George read books while our economy faltered and the world was going to hell in a hand basket.

    June 2, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  24. Greg

    I don't know if competing against a make-believe Bush pace makes any sense. Shouldn't he be reading more briefing books or spending time with his kids?

    June 2, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  25. Judy

    Maybe we should compare number of pages and reading level, not the number of books. Some of the pop-up books only have 5 pages.

    June 2, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
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