June 2nd, 2009
08:45 PM ET
3 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. Fred

    Did comic books count?

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

    Reading the bible "cover-to-cover" every year? Youd think doing it once was enough.

    June 2, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  3. Justin -NC

    I hope when he read the bible, President Bush read about forgiveness, loving one's enemies, turning the other cheek, but I guess he stuck more to the Old Testament, particularly stories about the destruction of cities like Sodom and Gomorrah. Guess he was trying to beat Loki in the Shock and Awe department. And with Bush taking all that vacation time, I'm sure he was able to read so many books while the country when to hell.

    June 2, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  4. Patsy Hodges

    I wonder how much of these books EX-President Bush actually
    comprehended. There is a great deal of difference in reading and
    comprehending. Same goes for the Rove character.

    June 2, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  5. The very hungry American public

    Want to bet Bush counted "the very hungry caterpillar" in his total?

    Bush should have focused on doing his job instead - his chance to be a literate person was long gone already.

    June 2, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  6. orville

    Could the difference in number of books read be due to Obama's penchant for reading documents/reports/studies etc. that keeps him abreast of the current condition of our country? And by contrast Bush (and Rove for that matter) had more time on their hands because they didn't have a clue about what was happening in America due to their indifference and their myopic views!

    June 2, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  7. Jeremy

    How is this news??how does this affect the country?
    And besides,Obama doesn't have anytime to read because he's too busy fixing up the mess that Bush made.

    June 2, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  8. roger dowdle, lockhart, Tx

    Comparing Obama's reading of netherland to Bush's reading of "See spot run" is hardly fair!

    June 2, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  9. The Party of NO is only “pro-life” to save a zygote now, so it can then kill the “babies” 18 years later as soldiers in an elective religious war.

    The shrubs 100 consisted of "My Pet Goat", pop up picture books and coloring books with page numbers.

    June 2, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  10. C.

    This is too funny!

    We are really supposed to believe this crap about Bush reading books?!

    And the punchline: More books than Obama...

    Nice try guys...now pull the other one!

    June 2, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  11. Voice of Reason

    Two books a week? On a president's schedule?

    I guess that depends on your definition of 'reading' a book. Maybe 'reading in', or 'opening the cover', or physically touching at least once'.

    Do the math: Let's say the average book runs 250 pages. That's 500 pages a week. let's assume that the average reader gets through a page about every 60 seconds. 500 minutes. that's about 8 hours a week.

    A FULL WORKDAY spent in leasure reading EVERY WEEK FOR YEARS ON END? When POTUS's schedule is worked out weeks in advance in 8-minute increments around the clock??? Sorry guys. Go sell it somewhere else, I'm not buying.

    June 2, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  12. Johnnie

    Ok, I'm a fairly well-educated, well-read person who thinks that reading is a wonderful free time hobby that few take part. However, I think this little blurb sums up the entire wasted 8 years of Bush's presidency. Why was he reading two-three books a week when he should have been reading the daily reports!

    Although I agree they are human and need downtime this is one Bush-era piece o' junk I hope Obama doesn't bother with.

    June 2, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  13. Chtei

    This is pretty hilarious. I'm curious to see what George Bush's book selection was compared to Obama's. Maybe Rove and Bush read Dr. Seuss, thus explaining the possible falling behind from Obama.

    June 2, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  14. John E Lexington KY

    Were they books or Classics Illustrated comics about the Crusades? Obama has actually been doing his job, instead of knocking off early every night, or spending huge chunks of time away from his job and bragging about ignoring CIA reports on such subjects as threats to highjack and crash jets into skyscrapers, and giving ceremonies to honor his cronies leaving government while a major US city was being destroyed by his negligence. Noblisse neglect. I suspect Obama actually reads and comprehends his books and that they are relief from the heavy reading load he has on his desk. I doubt his reading will inspire him to think of himself as a dumb-downed version of Prince Valiant.

    June 2, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  15. zaabout

    10 pages novels that Bush reads, about the small dog who met a frog for the first time, does not count.
    I can read 1000s of these in a year.

    June 2, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  16. John M in NoHo CA

    There is always a direct correlation (I've found) between heavy reading and eloquence. My apologies, this is not meant to be a Bush-bash comment but... 100 books a year? Yet he couldn't formulate a cohesive sentence very often. I mean no disrespect, really, but it's so hard to believe. I must say I'm really surprised.

    June 2, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  17. Robin in Tampa, FL

    George Bush didn't strike me as the kind of guy who reads books .. maybe comic books, but not grown-up books.

    June 2, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  18. Ken in NC

    Former President Bush may have read 95 books in one year and only 55 in another year but look at the book he is pictured reading in Florida on 9-11 when the Twin Towers were hit and tell me again about how many books the man would read in a year.

    June 2, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  19. Jon Hendry

    Bush didn't have anything better to do, what with Cheney being in control. Lord knows he took more vacation than any other President.

    I'd rather have Obama attending to his job. He's done plenty of reading in his life. Bush was probably catching up after an adult life when he rarely cracked a book.

    June 2, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  20. MCR

    Yeah right!!!!!!

    I don't believe for a second that Bush read that many books. Not ones intended for adults anyway. Board books maybe, but even that I doubt.

    June 2, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  21. khris

    if you look at how Bush kept the economy, it would make sense to how he could fit in all of those books.
    Obama on the otherhand, while reading less is taking care of the mess Bush left.

    June 2, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    no wonder Bush didn't get anything done while in office!!!!!!!!

    June 2, 2009 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  23. renee

    WOW!!!! Alexander Mooney, go to Fox news!!!!! no wonder the increasing repug slant in all articles on the Ticker....disgusting!!!!!!

    June 2, 2009 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  24. mel

    i don't care what anyone says. bush did not read that many books. even if he actually looked at all the words, he did not process them. everyone knows reading improves your writing and speaking skills. if someone reads 100 books in a year, it should be apparent!

    June 2, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  25. Brian from California

    I bet to my last pennies that Bush is not smart enough to read a book books... he simply can't read... maybe his mom is reading it for him....

    June 2, 2009 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
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