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. GOP is DOA

    Bush had a bet with Rove over how many books he could read. Guess this explains why W was reading a childrens' book while the Towers collapsed.

    June 2, 2009 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  2. BobH

    I hear Rove also reminds us that President Bush kept alert at press conferences by mentally solving differential equations, and won a wager with Rove over who could more quickly sequence the genome of the squirrel monkey.

    June 2, 2009 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  3. BC

    What other books did he read after finishing the "Hardy Boys" series and "Box Car Kids"?

    Okay, Okay, just a joke (don't have a cow).

    But, before I went back to school and finished my Masters, I would read about 100 books each year and it took a whole lot of my time away from other very important work! Hmmm, interesting!

    June 2, 2009 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  4. Brian

    "According to Karl Rove"

    nm

    June 2, 2009 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  5. catsmom

    Here's the difference. Obama is actually reading the books! Every time Bush was queried concerning a book from his reading list, he never could converse about the books plot or theme.

    June 2, 2009 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  6. Eileen from Maine

    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. And if that's not impressive enough, Rove also said Bush found time to read the Bible "from cover to cover" every year.

    Please, I don't think he should be counting Cliff Notes!
    The test is how much he actually understood.

    June 2, 2009 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  7. JH

    Uhm Children's book's should not count on this list....

    June 2, 2009 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  8. T Wallace

    How is this news??? Reading is fundamental but fixing the economy is a priority. I'd rather him not read as many books as he & his administration work diligently to fix the economy initiated by the previous administration. It's quite easy to read 100 books when you are not fixing problems.

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

    Did "My Pet Goat" count as one of those books Bush read?

    No matter. George Bush was, is, and forever will be, a not very bright, remarkably uncurious, uninsightful man, who disgraced our country with his bluster and arrogance and presided over the commission of terrible war crimes. Karl Rove may have read a lot of books, but none which contributed to his moral development.
    Neither of them compares very favorably with Barack Obama on any measure.

    June 2, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  10. Had It

    Didn't comprehend a word he read. What a waste of time.

    June 2, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  11. Ha, ha

    Bush could read? Come on now. I doubt very seriously that he read that many books in his whole life. Comprehension skills – none!

    June 2, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  12. Kate in ATL

    Reading speed and reading comprehension are not synonymous.

    June 2, 2009 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  13. Scott Holm

    I don't believe for a minute that Bush ever read any books. He just carried them around for show.

    June 2, 2009 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  14. katn

    "Rove said"
    Rove's lying.

    June 2, 2009 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  15. Take it or Leave it

    Most of my childhood accidents happened on my fathers watch, because he always had his nose in a book and wasn't paying attention to what I was doing.

    June 2, 2009 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  16. Cody

    Come on Bush got a free pass by reading see spot run once a week. He said it kept his mind as sharp as it has ever been.

    June 2, 2009 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  17. Christopher

    Seriously?

    June 2, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  18. Too funny!

    “I said I was looking for a book to read, Laura said you ought to try Camus. I also read three Shakespeares. … I’ve got a eck-a-lec-tic reading list.” –George W. Bush, interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, New Orleans, La., Aug. 29, 2006

    June 2, 2009 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  19. Krissy

    He's a bit busy cleaning up the mess his well read predecessor left him. Maybe if Bush didn't spend so much time reading and vactioning the country wouldn't be in the utter shambles it is in now. So, Mr. Mooney would you kindly refrain from this snark disguised as journalism and report on something newsworthy. How about Cheney admiting this weekend there never was a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda ?

    June 2, 2009 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    I'd rather he be doing than reading. Of course, that whole argument that crops up from the GOPers when he takes a flight to Vegas, for example, will fall by the wayside in this commentary section.

    Besides, are they counting coloring books in the Bush column?

    June 2, 2009 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  21. Stephen from Alabama

    Yeah, but Bush was reading books like "My Pet Goat", so it wasn't that hard to rack up 100. Laura kept him supplied with elementary reading material.

    June 2, 2009 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  22. chad

    well it seems we know what president bush was doing on all those vacations he took while the country was falling apart.....

    June 2, 2009 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  23. Matt from Beverly Hills

    Another crack story from CNN. Makes me wonder why you guys are so far behind MSNBC and FoxNews in the ratings. Maybe if Bush read more briefings than books, Obama could be reading more books instead of briefings.

    June 2, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  24. Lisa

    Sorry – don't believe that Bush read 95 books a year at all (maybe not even in his lifetime!) . Unless we're talking Dr. Seuss? Of course maybe I'm being unfair – after all he was on vacation about 100 days a year and when he wasn't clearing brush in Midland he could spend time reading because he sure wasn't working like the rest of us.

    June 2, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  25. Capt. SNarKy

    Wow-–THIS is news? This is the best you can do? Great investigative depth here.....

    Maybe you could pucker up and kiss his behind a bit more......

    Jeez.

    June 2, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
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