Last week, the New York Times reported on a typical day in the White House for Donald Trump. “Mr. Trump,” the story noted, “who does not read books, is able to end his evenings with plenty of television.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa.
Did you catch that? “Mr. Trump, who does not read books.”
The new president does not read.
This cannot stand! Everyone should read books.
It might be that the president just doesn’t know what to read. There are a lot of choices out there, after all, and it can get confusing. So I put out the word on social media, and suggestions poured in.
Many were pointed: People recommended that Mr. Trump read books about diversity, the history of American Indians, race relations, immigration, the environment, the Apocalypse. A few, though, simply suggested good reads. (“Never give up on the power of literature,” said one.)
Some suggestions came with comments; others let the titles speak for themselves. Here is a sampling:
“The Road,” by Cormac McCarthy.
“The Audacity of Hope,” by Barack Obama.
“If he read ‘Maus’ or ‘Persepolis’ or ‘The Modern Arab’ (graphic novels all), I would be delighted.”
“ ‘Commonwealth,’ by Ann Patchett, or ‘Moonglow’ by Michael Chabon. Never give up on the power of literature.”
“All the King’s Men,” by Robert Penn Warren.
“To gain empathy, ‘Between Shades of Gray,’ Ruta Sepetys’ YA novel about Russia’s brutal 1941 deportation and internment of Lithuanians.”
“I’m going to suggest something he might actually read and enjoy and learn from. Might! ‘The Last Shot,’ by Darcy Frey. There are, of course, hundreds of books I would like him to read that he would never consider.”
“The Lorax,” by Dr. Seuss.
“ ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ With footnotes explaining it’s not a documentary on gov[ernment] procedure.”
“White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide,” by Carol Anderson.
One person suggested “1984.” Another said he must not read “1984” because it might give him ideas.
This reader had five suggestions: “March,” by John Lewis. “Between the World and Me,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. “Station Eleven,” by Emily St. John Mandel. “The Hunger Games,” by Suzanne Collins. “Hot, Flat and Crowded,” by Thomas L. Friedman.
And this reader had 11: “The Plot Against America,” by Phillip Roth. “Citizen,” by Claudia Rankine. “March,” by John Lewis. “The Handmaid’s Tale,” by Margaret Atwood. “Oryx and Crake,” by Margaret Atwood. “Drown,” by Junot Diaz. “On Bullshit,” by Harry Frankfurt. “A Question of Freedom,” by Reginald Dwayne Betts. “The Wangs vs. the World,” by Jade Chang. “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” by Charles M. Blow. And “Driving Without a License,” by Janine Joseph.
“Julius Caesar,” by William Shakespeare.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Gospels would be a good place to start. Maybe skip right to Matthew 19:24: ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ ”
“A People’s History of the United States,” by Howard Zinn.
“Mr. Wellstone Goes to Washington” by Dane Smith.
“Lord of the Flies,” by William Golding.
“An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States,” by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.
And one more list: “ ‘Bullwhip Days,’ a collection of slave narratives. ‘Give Us the Ballot,’ by Ari Berman. ‘The New Jim Crow,’ by Michelle Alexander. ‘Evicted,’ by Matthew Desmond. ‘Between the World and Me,’ Ta-Nehisi Coates. ‘The Souls of Black Folks,’ by W.E.B. DuBois. ‘Dispossession’ by Pete Daniel, the poetry of Langston Hughes. And Emily Post’s ‘Etiquette. ’ ”
Emily Post! Because everyone needs to know good manners. Even a president.
Actually, especially a president.
Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune senior editor for books. On Twitter: @StribBooks. On Facebook: facebook.com/startribunebook.