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. Joe Terrogano

    I have to admit, I am surprised. What I can not figure out is how all that reading didn't stick. I'm not trying to be mean, just perplexed. Maybe he was just looking at the pictures!

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

    If Bush was reading 100 books a year then he wasn't working enough and that was pretty obvious. Half of the books would have been read at his ranch in Crawford as he was their much of the time having more vacation time than any President in History, so before we laud him let's call it for what it is....more propaganda.
    Ten books a year for Obama is great, he can be at work for us the rest of the time!

    June 2, 2009 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  3. Joanna

    Well i don't think Obama has as much leisure time as Bush. After all Bush did take almost a year and a half off during his presidency! Maybe bush should have read a bite less and governed more. Just a thought. I am all for reading, but man we have so much that need fixing, pleasure reading, kinda needs to be put off. At least O took the night off to be a goof family man. But again, GOP complains about one night out in NYC, but the yr and a half off with Bush was A.OK?

    June 2, 2009 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  4. Thomas

    Now we know why he ruined the Country: He was reading Little Red Riding Hood!

    June 2, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  5. Joe Terrogano

    :) o.k. maybe a little mean :)

    June 2, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  6. RealityKing

    Quick! Some one send him an economics book!!!

    June 2, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  7. Dan

    Obama should read Atlas Shrugged. Maybe he will learn a thing or two.

    June 2, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  8. Olivia

    Oh Please! I'd rather have a president that reads less novel and more staff reports...

    June 2, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  9. Beth in Derry, NH

    I'd rather have a president that made his work a priority.

    June 2, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  10. Texas Mama

    Wow...good to know bush had so much free time on his hands.....

    June 2, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  11. TM

    Two questions:
    How many of Bush's books were mostly pictures?
    If he did, in fact, read the Bible "from cover to cover", how did he miss the bits about lying the nation into an invasion and occupation, while claiming he was doing it as "God's Will" to "bring democracy to the Middle East"? (Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors property, and Thou shalt no take the Lord's name in vain, respectively)

    June 2, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  12. MC

    Too busy running up the tab going to NYC ... he should read more often – it's cheaper for the taxpayers.

    June 2, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  13. H James

    100 Dick and Jane books and the Picture Story Bible in one year isn't that much of an accomplishment.

    June 2, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  14. bert

    Should of read those intel reports a little better. We might could have avoided this little Iraq thing.

    Kinda reminds you of that scene from the titantic.

    June 2, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  15. Brendhan Sears

    When you spend 1/3 of your term at Camp David or your Crawford ranch doing things like ignorning Al Qaeda threats against the US, of course you have more time to read!

    June 2, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  16. I used to like CNN but not anymore!

    The only problem is, all of the books Bush read were written by Dr. Seusse! Its not to hard to compete with "Green Eggs and Ham" or "Horton Hears a Who"!

    June 2, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  17. Kimberly

    well that explains why the country was being run by dick, ol karl and him distracted bush with the Captain Underwear series of books... Wow, now its proven that rove WAS bushes brain. How pathetic is that man? 100 books year? I am a mother of 2 running a home and a job, not even CLOSE to the job it is to be president and I am lucky to finish 4 books a year!! Another example of bush not doing his job!!

    June 2, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  18. He's reading....

    Marx and Lenin. You will soon own nothing as all assets are moving towards government control.

    I've moved my money to Ireland and will re-locate there. You can stay here and be taxed to death. Bon chance.

    June 2, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  19. Matthew Killeen

    At least now we know what the Bush's day looked like. Rove went on to brag about nap and story time hours logged, as well.

    June 2, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  20. Monique, San Diego

    Maybe Obama's too busy and actually fulfilling his duty as President instead of having free time to read!

    June 2, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  21. JN

    There is nothing to suggest or offer proof that Bush was capable of reading 100 books a year.

    June 2, 2009 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  22. rich, OH

    Sorry Rove, but children's books don't count.

    June 2, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  23. skip

    ". . . far less than the close to 100 books President Bush was reportedly able to finish in the same amount of time."

    Yes, but how many of those books actually contained words?

    June 2, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  24. Mike

    I don't think either of them should have time during the day to read anything other than briefings. Maybe a little light reading before bed like most people, but how on earth did Bush manage to read 2 books a week while we are at war? Really, that makes sense though. I'm sure Rove and Cheney just handed him a new one every so often and said "Go read this Mr. President, you don't want to know what we're doing."

    June 2, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  25. Sally

    Well then, while I'm certainly not one to discourage reading, sounds like Obama is on a more realistic reading schedule for a man running the country. Maybe if Bush and Rove had spent less time reading books and trying to out do each other on some silly bet, and spent more time out and about the country, we wouldn't be in the mess we are today.

    June 2, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
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