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. Allen G

    I honestly think the Bush vs Rove reading wager was a lie to get people to think the ex president was smarter than he looks. There is no way he reads that much and can stll be so illiterate/inarticulate. It's either that or he just skims pages thinking he's "reading" the book. Maybe if he didn't spend so much time "fake" reading than he probably would have gotten a few things done. He should probably read his national security memos instead.

    June 2, 2009 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  2. Marc K

    It's because Obama is too busy WORKING for the American people to repair the damage of his predicessor who has always been happy with the bare minimum his entire life.

    June 2, 2009 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  3. Nobody

    Does anyone care to list what other books Mr. Bush is "polishing off" every week? I don't hesitate to surmise two points: 1) our current commander-in-chief spends more time doing his job than his predecessor did; 2) the reading quality of the former is disputable.

    But you be the decider.

    June 2, 2009 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Obviously, then, Bush is well-read than Obama. Not!!!

    June 2, 2009 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  5. Bill

    Yeah, Bush read all those books. Sure.

    June 2, 2009 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  6. John

    Coloring and children's books are ineligible for this informal competition. Also, this comparison also doesn't take reading comprehension into account. I'm glad Obama isn't reading many books... it's probably because he's reading security briefings and legislation proposals.

    June 2, 2009 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  7. Pepper from CA

    Less hands on in everyday governing would have given Bush more time to read. Governing really isn't a reading contest. If so did Bush skim read or read for content? Either way it is silly.

    June 2, 2009 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  8. republicans hate america

    obama is actually utilizing his time being president while bush read my pet goat during 9/11

    June 2, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  9. demwit

    Only the progressively state run media would try to match up Bush's 100 books to Obams' 10 tales of Curious George..

    June 2, 2009 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  10. John

    Coloring and children's books are ineligible for this informal competition. This comparison also doesn't take reading comprehension into account. I'm glad Obama isn't reading many books… it's probably because he's reading security briefings and legislation proposals.

    June 2, 2009 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  11. loud and proud

    It takes longer to read them from a teleprompter.

    June 2, 2009 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  12. GenTwelve

    The ability to read 100 books in a year and spend one-thirdof the time in Texas might lead one to believe that the man was not paying attention to his job.

    June 2, 2009 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  13. wilbur

    Yeah, right.

    June 2, 2009 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  14. NEVADA JOE

    BUSH NEVER read a book in his life unless it had lots of big pictures...and no print..

    June 2, 2009 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  15. gayle

    Two things: First – you'd have to believe that Bush actually read and comprehended the books he claimed to have read. Second – Obama is actually working as president not just sitting at the desk in the oval office. He's reading briefings – you know – like the one back in August of 2001 that said terrorists were determined to strike targets in the US....

    June 2, 2009 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  16. David Greenville, tx

    W can read? Well maybe it's better for Obama to read what he's reading than it is for him to read the Bible or "Return to Gone Away Lake".

    June 2, 2009 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  17. Fay Murphy

    Bush had all that reading time because he worked 24/7. 24 hours a week, 7 months a year.

    June 2, 2009 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  18. Phil

    Does anyone seriously believe Rove's claims? He doesn't exactly have a sterling record of honesty.

    June 2, 2009 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  19. Tariq

    I don't believe comic books and children books should count for Bush

    June 2, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    Does teleprompter reading count?

    June 2, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  21. New Yorker

    "Bush found time to read the Bible "from cover to cover" every year."

    It would be good if Obama, who also claims to be a Christian, would read the Bible from cover to cover every year, especially if he took it to heart and didn't think some scriptures were "obscure". Any president who thinks his wisdom is better than God's is foolish. Any person who thinks his wisdom is better than God's is foolish. Time will prove these statements true.

    June 2, 2009 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  22. Tom

    That is the dumbest flipping thing I've seen yet. Exactly what won't you people dig up and present as news?

    June 2, 2009 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  23. Who Knew

    After listening to bush for 8 years, there is NO WAY he read all the books rove said he did.

    One thing became crystal clear during the years we were subjected to bush and his policies, is this... It was obvious bush was the MOST UNCURIOUS President this nation has EVER had to suffer from.

    We all know that bush didn't read his PDBs, so how can anyone swallow the lie he read 110 books in a single year. Well, unless they were comic books.......

    Judging bush on his overall lack of intellect, comic books could even be too advanced for his uncurious mind.

    June 2, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  24. Nope... I dont' buy it....

    yeah...... this comes from ROVE.... okayyyy.

    June 2, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  25. Alla Darwish

    no wonder the economy tanked..............he was busy waging bets with Rove to see who can read the most books. and to be honest with you, I am really surprised......how can you read that many books and still speak the language very poorly?

    June 2, 2009 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
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