August 22nd, 2010
08:22 AM ET

Letter to the President #580: 'Reading time'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/WORLD/europe/07/15/summer.sailing.books/t1larg.sailing.books.full.set.jpg caption="Dear Mr. President, I notice that you used some of your vacation time to go book shopping. Good for you. I have always said that money spent on books can never be called a waste." width=300 height=169]

Reporter's Note: President Obama is on vacation. Some of us are still working, however, which is why I am once again writing to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

I notice that you used some of your vacation time to go book shopping. Good for you. I have always said that money spent on books can never be called a waste. To Kill a Mockingbird? The Red Pony? Fine choices.

So just in case you are wondering, I thought I’d mention what I’ve been reading this summer. I almost always work on two or three books at a time just for the variety, although I’ll admit sometimes they can run together in my head a little, produce rambling thoughts like, “Call me Ishmael. It was the best of times, it was the worst of whales…” Stuff like that.

Anyway, I’ve been pecking away for some time on the David McCullough biography, John Adams. It’s really quite interesting, so I tend to want to focus when I read it. As a result I open it up only when I have real time for the job, and that doesn’t come very often.

I continue to nibble at a stack of the Parker novels by my bedside, which as I’ve told you before are always fantastic even on a second or third read. I have started a rather dense history of Dodge City, Kansas, called The Delectable Burg which I will finish nonetheless because it is against my nature to give up on a book once I’ve started. I’m still fiddling with a book analyzing our immigration policies, which is somewhat intriguing, but I can’t stick with it for very long at a single stretch. Can’t even remember the title at the moment.

I knocked out a few quickies: Testimony, a kind of unsettling story of a sex scandal in a private school. Reread a fair portion of A Walk in the Woods; a funny book about bears eating people on the Appalachian Trail among other things. I know there are some other books I just can’t recall at the moment, but I suppose they weren’t that interesting in that case.

Oh! I’ve been reading the old Dale Carnegie book, How to Win Friends and Influence People (did I tell you about this? I can’t recall…) and I find it fascinating. Oh sure, some parts of it are kind of dated; I keep expecting references to Model T’s or “those flashy new talking pictures” to show up, but the lessons really are timeless. I have no idea why I’ve never read it before other than a general aversion to self-improvement books. Which is strange, because heaven knows if any self needs improvement, it’s mine. I stumbled onto it because it was assigned as summer reading for one of my daughters and I often try to read what they have been assigned just so I can keep up with their current areas of thought.

I guess that’s about it, aside from the steady river of newspapers and magazines and websites that I read all the time. And come to think of it, I guess that’s about all I have to say today. I’m once again in my lovely city of New Orleans. I’m going to be here all week covering the 5th anniversary of Katrina, except for tomorrow when I fly back and forth to Atlanta for convocation at Georgia Tech, so if you want to reach me make sure you use my cell. But hey, you’re on vacation! So unless it’s really pressing, do yourself a favor and save it for when you’re back at work and we’re both back in DC. I mean, I’m always ready in case you really want to talk, but let’s be reasonable.


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Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. C

    Mr. Foreman,
    Good to hear about your reading list! Sounds very interesting. I am currently reading a book on Paul Farmer, "Mountains beyond mountains", the freshmen class under my year had to read it so I thought I'd dust it off the book shelf and check it out and my jaw has dropping since. It's one of those awe-inspiring stories.

    It's good to read one of those once in a while. I think even necessary in fact. Maybe I should mail a copy to Mr. Pres? Want to send one of your favs with mine too?


    August 22, 2010 at 3:08 pm |
  2. Paul Harris

    Thanks for the book tips. In light of the 5th Anniversary of Katrina and the levee failures I do hope people read related books as there's nothing better than first person descriptions and photos to help us all understand how enormous this disaster was and is, and what lessons we and the President may learn from them.

    Paul Harris
    Author, "Diary From the Dome, Reflections on Fear and Privilege During Katrina"

    August 22, 2010 at 3:01 pm |
  3. Chi

    Always like reading your letters, Tom. Thank you for your writing 🙂

    August 22, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
  4. K S Verdi, San Antonio, TX

    With the economy being so bad many Americans can't buy books to help bookstores stay in business. Wonder where I'll get the best deal for my fall semester textbooks this year. Maybe I have to resort to a new system at my university called e-books. Love your recommendation of the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People", a great book indead 😉

    August 22, 2010 at 11:38 am |
  5. Vivien, NYC

    Ah those Robert Parker novels! I felt like an old friend had died when he passed. I do recommend the Stieg Larsson triology for bedside and travel pleasure.

    August 22, 2010 at 10:41 am |
  6. Steve

    Obama can read? Gee, from the way he pushed the $787 billion stimulus package aside, I didn't think he was capable! He hasn't read any major legislation passed by the 11% Congress. Didn't think he could read.

    August 22, 2010 at 9:17 am |