Facing the pressures of high office, Obama turned to Shakespeare and George W Bush read political biographies. What might help the Donald get through his word?
There are many things to be said about Donald Trump, who is sworn in as US president on Friday. But none of them have much to do with books.
In fact, one suspects, he has no appetite for volumes apart from his own biography, The Art of the Deal, which he frequently plugs as his favourite reading, alongside the Bible.
It is one of many styles in which he contrasts with his predecessor Barack Obama, who this week dedicated an interview to the New York Times in which he uncovered the debt he owes to reading. Not merely had it helped him slow down and get perspective, he said, the committee is also helped him get inside somebody elses shoes.
Obama quotes literary influences that range from Shakespeare to Nelson Mandela through to Chinese author Liu Cixins post-apocalyptic The Three-Body Problem. My day-to-day problems with Congress seem fairly petty, he said, as compared with intrusion by aliens. Perspective is everything.
How some of us will miss that human. Because, on the evidence available, the incoming resident of the White House seems to be the least well-read chairwoman of modern times.
In fact, “its not” even certain that Trump has read The Art of the Deal. Surely, his ghostwriter Tony Schwartz had doubts. Last year he told the New Yorker: I seriously doubt that Trump has ever read a book straight through in his adult life.
I suspect Schwartz may be on to something. Merely once before has Trump named an alternative to the Bible or his own memoir: the 1929 classic All Quiet on the Western Front, which he picked as a favourite while speaking to Fox News presenter Megyn Kelly last May.
But even then, he managed to spoil the effect, when asked what was the most recent volume he had read, by adding: I read passages, I read areas, Ill read chapters I dont have the time.
Even George W Bush, who for a long time assured us that Eric Carles The Very Hungry Caterpillar was his favourite volume ,~ ATAGEND turned out to be a closet reader of rapacious craving. His Hicksville cover was blown when one of his closest consultants, Karl Rove, revealed in the Wall Street Journal that the two were locked in a read duel that meant the ex-president devoured on average two volumes a week, ranging from the predictable political biographies to unlikely ventures into classic fiction, such as Albert Camus archetypal fiction of alienation The Outsider. I presume he read that after the Iraq war.
Elsewhere around the globe, political leaders have shared their savor for literature, making Trumps bookshelves look all the more bare. If he wants to hot up the bromance with Vladimir Putin, the new leader of the free world could do no better than to dip into the many volumes that have inspired the Russian leader.
Perhaps it would be too big an ask to start with Christian existentialist Nikolai Berdyaevs The Philosophy of Inequality which Trumps Kremlin counterpart distributed to regional governors as required reading. Ivan Turgenevs A Sportsmans Sketches might be better; this collect of narratives, revealing the agony of the peasantry in the Russian countryside, would make an imaginative escape should Trump develop an interest in life beyond the gilded rooms of Trump Tower.
I fear Angela Merkels favourite title, Goethes Faust, would stimulate him a tad uneasy though it might provide some insight into how he and the German chancellor could start over when they meet later this year. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Merkel said Faust gives you an idea of why we Germans want to get to the bottom of things.
I dont want to alarm the president-elect but the German leader shares her option with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, according to The China Daily. Could this hint at a new confederation?
Maybe its time for the incoming chairperson to seek literary consolation in the special relationship and look to the UK leaderss recommended reading lists.
There is plenty there for the commander-in-chief to while away his hours on Air Force One, though somehow I dont see Jeremy Corbyns pick of James Joyces Ulysses( read three times) doing it for the Donald.
Perhaps this is UK prime minister Theresa Mays opportunity to get up close and personal with her American counterpart. Her predilection is for detective fictions. Perfect: nothing too heavy and a bit of page-turning escape when deciding whether to use the nuclear codes or not.
That said, if I were May, Id keep stumm about her favourite read: Jane Austens Pride and Prejudice. Somehow I cant consider a novel about a feisty heroine unimpressed by a rich man who thinks hes Gods gift being a big turn on for the new president.
Third Empire: The Russia That Should by Mikhail Yuriev. A favourite novel of Trumps new BFF, Vladimir Putin. Its easy to ensure why as there are close parallels between the Russian leader and the hero this 2006 sci-fi novel the shadowy but heroic leader Vladimir the Restorer, who, aided by the Ukrainian people, induces Russia a great Empire again. A favourite fiction of Trumps new BFF, Vladimir Putin. Its easy to assure why as there are close parallels between the Russian leader and the hero this 2006 sci-fi novel the shadowy but heroic leader Vladimir the Restorer, who, aided by the Ukrainian people, builds Russia a great Empire again. One Billion Clients by James McGregor. The man who built up the Dow Joness operation in China can offer the former superstar of The Apprentice useful tips on how to deal with the worlds biggest markets. No dry textbook, McGregors book provides insights into China that are witty, informed and might just prevent the new leader triggering a catastrophic trade war. The human who built up the Dow Joness operation in China can offer the former star of The Apprentice useful tips on how to deal with the worlds biggest markets. No dry textbook, McGregors book provides insights into China that are witty, notified and might just avoid the new leader triggering a catastrophic trade war. When the Facts Change by Tony Judt. Historian Judt knew what it was to change his intellect particularly to move from the extremes of Marxist Zionism in his youth to a commitment to social democracy. Not only will Judts essays help the new chairwoman to better understand Israel and Palestine, they may help him realise that it is possible to change your intellect gracefully. Historian Judt knew what it was to change his intellect particularly to move from the extremes of Marxist Zionism in his youth to a commitment to social democracy. Not merely will Judts essays help the new chairwoman to better understand Israel and Palestine, they may assistance him realise that it is possible to change your intellect gracefully. Language, Truth and Logic by AJ Ayer. With all those speeches he will have to construct, this 1936 classic on thought and communication is a must-read for the Donald. Offering advice on fuzzy logic and muddled speaking, it is a useful primer for the fake news age. It even has exams, with which the president-elect can assess his tweets for statements of unverifiable fact. With all those speeches he will have to build, this 1936 classic on thought and communication is a must-read for the Donald. Offering advice on fuzzy logic and muddled speaking, it is a useful primer for the fake news age. It even has exams, with which the president-elect can assess his tweets for statements of unverifiable fact. No Means No! by Jayneen Sanders. It may be too late for the pussygrabber-in-chief, but this image book for three-to-nine-year-olds might help him begin to appreciate personal borders. The publishers blurb for Sanderss book should bring consolation to all: A world where No! does actually mean No! can be a world with much less violence and increased respect for humankind.