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. Philip

    Perhaps Obama doesn't not have time to read books because he is busy doing his job as president. I don't think it's anything for Bush to be proud of .

    June 2, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  2. Lisa

    I would rather have him work than read books for pleasure. I know that he needs time off to do fun things. I believe by being active (football, golf, even dating) he sets as good as example as reading. Reading sets a good example too, but I believe he is following the mantra of "all things in moderation".

    June 2, 2009 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  3. Hannah Stevens

    I think bus lied about how many books he read. He did not read newspapers. His staff were told to keep memos short as president bush did not like to read long ones. GWB was a very dishonest person and so I just don't believe this. Let's see, 100 books per year, that's 3 books a week. Do you believe that. The guy barely got through college.

    June 2, 2009 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  4. MK

    Who really think Bush read 95 books in one year? I know for a fact that the "Dick and Jane" primers did not have 95 books in the entire series. Who does he think he is kidding?

    June 2, 2009 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  5. F. L. Stewart

    I have no doubt that Bush read many books while in office and during an election year. After all, he had Chaney to act as president. I'd like to see the list of book titles. Did it include any Disney titles?

    June 2, 2009 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  6. JB

    Too bad Bush didn't have time to read a "P.D.B." in August 2001....

    June 2, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  7. Scott

    Yeah, but Bush's total has to take into account how many were comic books and picture books. No way I believe he read that many for real.

    June 2, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  8. Ed Turner

    Bush read a book? Ok what's the punch line?

    June 2, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  9. Karen

    Yeah, well, Obama works for a living instead of just leaving everything up to the V.P. and his croneys.

    June 2, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  10. joann

    Picture books don't count, Mr. Bush...

    June 2, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  11. Mark

    This is rich. Am I expected to believe Bush read this many books in one year? He certainly had plenty of time as he never really performed in the office to which he was selected by five Supreme Court cronies. I, however, do not believe he read even one book in a year, not even the Bible. Only a fool would believe this nonsense because most people realize Bush cannot read.

    June 2, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  12. Barbara Campbell

    Bush himself said he wasn't much of a reader. The number of books he allegedly read was all propaganda to play down his mediocre cowboy image.

    June 2, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  13. sonny

    10 books per year for bush must be a lie. His vocabulary didn't show it and he acted like a complete moron while in office.

    June 2, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  14. Shan

    Maybe President Obama is reading the daily briefings instead!

    June 2, 2009 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  15. Marty, Grand Rapids

    I guess we know what Bush was doing when the rest of his cabinet was ruining this country. I think Bush was the classic story of a generally good guy hanging out with the wrong crowd.

    June 2, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  16. Carl

    Obama – Engaged President who has a brain
    Bush – Disengaged reader who...well, it was obvious wasn't it?

    June 2, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  17. Ancient River

    If Obama took as much vacation time as Bush did, I'm sure he's surpass his reading list. Certainly the level of reading would be a lot higher. Eight years in office,three of them on vacation- lots of time to read comic books and Harry Potter and clear brush, I'd say.

    June 2, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  18. Kim

    Maybe that's why Bush never read any of the official reports.... Compared to Pride and Prejudice, I bet national security and torture allegations are incredibly boring. And does this include Dr. Suess books? Does this include the book he was reading to children when our nation was attacked?

    There are more important things the president should be reading than romance novels 'for funsies.' Ever since I've started working for my Ph.D., my recreational reading has drastically dropped. That is due to the passion and fervor I have for persuing knowledge and my studies.

    I sincerely hope this president is more concerned with what is happening in the world and check facts before we invade another country than he is in Harry Potter's most recent misadventure.

    June 2, 2009 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  19. Had It

    So THAT's what the taxpayers got for the money spent on Cheney's PUPPET.

    June 2, 2009 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  20. Sherry

    Gee...No wonder the country went belly up ....
    Bush was too busy reading books instead of taking care of our country.
    Figures....

    June 2, 2009 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  21. bsmith171

    obama's disadvantage. michelle has to read to him.

    he only reads Indonesian.

    June 2, 2009 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  22. Steve (the real one)

    Even CNN confirms that President Bush is an avid reader. So to all you liberal Bush haters! TAKE THAT! I am sure you will find away to divert attention from the fact that President Obama doesn't read as much! Actually this is just a silly story to have fun with but some of you (you know who you are:Mari, Sniffit, Simmy, Dutch, the usual suspects) will get ugly and not JIGGY with it! PEACE!

    June 2, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  23. Matt in Ohio

    Hmmmm, Bush read 95 books in 2006? Does "Cat in the Hat" and "Where's Waldo" really count?

    June 2, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  24. ShelleyDee

    What a pile of horse rubbish. Bush read 100 books a year? Without crayons?

    June 2, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  25. Heather

    I would prefer Obama to spend his time doing his job, not polishing off two books a week. Perhaps this is the reason for Bush's presidential failures.

    June 2, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
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