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. The Bush Library

    The George W Bush Library will have a special section for the books from George's childhood.

    It will include the 62 coloring books he finished as a child and the 186 coloring books he completed while President...

    June 2, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  2. Seth, Washington DC

    I'd prefer my President not have time enough to finish 100 books in a year. That's a little disturbing to me. I find comfort in knowing it is taking months for Obama to finish just one.

    June 2, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  3. Jim Krell

    I have a hard time believing Bush read anything. If he did indeed read as much as he said, it was large;y because of his abundance of leisure time. CNN is implying that Obama is not Bush's intellectual equal, perhaps?

    June 2, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  4. A FACT

    Bush read? I didn't think he knew how.... wonder if the book(s) was upside down.

    June 2, 2009 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  5. Don

    If Bush was reading a 100 books a year than he wasn't doing his job...wait thats it....

    June 2, 2009 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  6. Scot

    I didn't know Obama could read!!!!! Or am I a racist for saying something negative towards the Messiah???? I don't know why I bother to write this because CNN doesn't have the integrity to provide a forum for dissenting views.......

    June 2, 2009 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  7. Action

    C'mon....pop up books and comic books don't count!

    Hey...did you guys count "My LIttle Goat" the book he was reading when paralyzed by 9/11?...he didn't finish that one either....

    June 2, 2009 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  8. Ron

    Let's see...Liberals used to make fun of the fact that Bush didn't read. Now it appears that he was reading more than their hero (BO). I assume they'll change the taunts now to be that he should not have been reading so much. Liberals are used to being able to say whatever they want, knowing that the media would never challenge them, and their liberal followers on this site will do and say whatever their people in front tell them to.

    Liberalism = blind, unthinking followers

    June 2, 2009 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  9. G

    Well Barack Obama is too busy being a president to being reading books he has enough stuff to read that is more important.

    June 2, 2009 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  10. Accountability

    Well...let's remember that with Cheney and Rumsfeld running the country, old George had plenty of time to read....

    June 2, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  11. John

    If anyone believes that Bush actually read 95 books a year, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Bush FAMOUSLY did not like to read newspapers, and here's Bob Woodward:

    WOODWARD: I think he’s impatient. I think, my summation: He doesn’t like homework. And homework means reading or getting briefed or having a debate. And part of the presidency, part of governing, particularly in this area, is homework, homework, homework.

    Maybe some fact-checking by CNN would be a good thing.

    June 2, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  12. Miz

    And we believe Rove? If we really believe him, then obviously President Bush was spending too much time reading and not enough time governing. Either way, Rove's story sounds a lot like that WMD that was supposed to be in Iraq.

    June 2, 2009 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  13. Annoyed in Florida

    Well it's easy to read 95 books in a year when 94 of them are children's picture books!

    June 2, 2009 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  14. ap

    Anyone who believes the propaganda that Bush actually read even a single book during his term in office is kidding themselves.

    June 2, 2009 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  15. dcwilson

    Um.. if someone is working they have less time to read, but if someone is delegating they are plenty of time to read. This is not newsworthy.

    June 2, 2009 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  16. Martin

    Who has time to read two books a week when you're the president?

    June 2, 2009 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  17. Tom Gwin

    The difference here, you understand, is that Obama has a job. Bush didn't.

    June 2, 2009 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  18. Michael

    Counting children's books from Bush's list really isn't fair.

    June 2, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  19. Steve

    "Frog and Toad Are Friends" and "Where the Wild Things Are," although fantastic in their own right, are not exactly time-consuming reading material.

    For most of us.

    June 2, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  20. Drew, FL

    Glad to hear it. He's spending more time doing his job than his predecessor. It's quite telling.

    June 2, 2009 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  21. me

    Does reading "My Pet Goat" count?

    June 2, 2009 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  22. C but really an F student

    Bush reading "See Jack Run" does not count as serious reading folks!

    June 2, 2009 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  23. devon spencer

    well here is the thing. It's understanding what you read that makes all the difference in the world. my other point is that Obama has a much tougher job of not only creating new opportunities but repairing the damage that his predecessor's administration was responsible for.

    June 2, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  24. eric

    Too bad Bush didn't learn anything from all those books.

    June 2, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  25. republicans hate america

    well if all I read were childrens books i would keep pace with Bush too.

    June 2, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
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