Presidential Library

The Obama Vs. Romney Reading List: Book Bag Presidential Election Edition

As the two candidates face off in the 2012 election, the books they’ve read recently and their professed favorites also go head to head. Who wins? Note: most titles come from Newsweek’s “Obama’s Book Club” and Buzzfeed’s “Mitt’s Reading List”.

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1. Favorite Books

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (Obama) vs. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (Romney)

Moby Dick by Herman Melville (Obama) vs. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (Romney)

Shakespeare’s Tragedies (Obama) vs. Adventures of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson (Romney)

Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch (Obama) vs. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (Romney)

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (Obama) vs. Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard (Romney)

* These are the candidates’ favorite books, in order, as claimed on their Facebook pages.

2. Presidents

FDR by Anthony J. Badger and FDR by Jean Edward Smith and Defining Moment by Jonathan Alter (Obama) vs. Decision Points by George W. Bush (Romney)

Lincoln by Fred Kaplan and Lincoln’s Collected Writings and Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Obama) vs. The Escape Artist by Noam Scheiber (Romney)

President Reagan by Lou Cannon (Obama) vs. What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer (Romney)

* Romney called Bush’s memoir Decision, and Obama’s propensity to read multiple volumes about FDR and Lincoln is of note.

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3. Politics and History

The World America Made by Robert Kagan (Obama) vs. The Next 100 Years by George Friedman (Romney)

The Irony of American History by Reinhold Niebuhr (Obama) vs. America Alone by Mark Steyn (Romney)

The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria (Obama) vs. China, Inc. by Ted C. Fishman (Romney)

Lessons in Disaster by Gordon M. Goldstein (Obama) vs. The Battle for Peace by General Tony Zinni and Tony Koltz (Romney)

Ghost Wars by Steve Coll (Obama) vs. The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright (Romney)

4. Economics

Common Wealth by Jeffrey Sachs (Obama) vs. Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond (Romney)

Unequal Democracy by Larry Bartels (Obama) vs. The Wealth and Poverty of Nations by David Landes (Romney)

* Diamond wrote that Romney got his argument so wrong that he doubts he actually read the book.

5. Self-Help

Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson (Obama) vs. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren (Romney)

6. Fiction

Room by Emma Donoghue (Obama) vs. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (Romney)

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Obama) vs. Term Limits by Vince Flynn (Romney)

The Bayou Trilogy by Daniel Woodrell (Obama) vs. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khlaed Hosseini (Romney)

Netherland by Joseph O’Neill (Obama) vs. The Law of Nines by Terry Goodkind (Romney)

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing (Obama) vs. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey (Romney)

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (Obama) vs. The Rustlers of West Fork by Louis L’Amour

* Romney called Goodkind’s book The Rule of Nines, or he might have meant The Rule of Nine by Steve Martini.

7. Poetry

Collected Poems, 1948 to 1984 by Derek Walcott (Obama) vs. The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes by Langston Hughes (Obama)

* Romney doesn’t read poetry. Perhaps he didn’t appreciate the elegant verse of “You flip-flop here, you flip-flop there,/You flip-flop almost ev'rywhere.”

8. Obligatory Tom Friedman Book

Hot, Flat, and Crowded (Obama) vs. The World Is Flat (Romney)

9. Obligatory David McCullough Book

John Adams (Obama) vs. 1776 (Romney)

10. Obligatory Edmund Morris Book

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (Obama) vs. Theodore Rex (Romney)