Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A book-loving president? How refreshing!

“Much has been made of Mr. Obama’s eloquence--his ability to use words in his speeches to persuade and uplift and inspire. But his appreciation of the magic of language and his ardent love of reading have not only endowed him with a rare ability to communicate his ideas to millions of Americans while contextualizing complex ideas about race and religion, they have also shaped his sense of who he is and his apprehension of the world.

“Mr. Obama’s first book, 'Dreams From My Father' (which surely stands as the most evocative, lyrical and candid autobiography written by a future president), suggests that throughout his life he has turned to books as a way of acquiring insights and information from others--as a means of breaking out of the bubble of self-hood and, more recently, the bubble of power and fame. He recalls that he read James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright and W. E. B. Du Bois when he was an adolescent in an effort to come to terms with his racial identity and that later, during an ascetic phase in college, he immersed himself in the works of thinkers like Nietzsche and St. Augustine in a spiritual-intellectual search to figure out what he truly believed...

“What’s more, Mr. Obama’s love of fiction and poetry--Shakespeare’s plays, Herman Melville’s 'Moby-Dick' and Marilynne Robinson‘s 'Gilead' are mentioned on his Facebook page, along with the Bible, Lincoln’s collected writings and Emerson’s 'Self Reliance'--has not only given him a heightened awareness of language. It has also imbued him with a tragic sense of history and a sense of the ambiguities of the human condition quite unlike the Manichean view of the world so often invoked by Mr. Bush.”

-- “From Books, New President Found Voice”

Other books mentioned in the Michiko Kakutani piece as having been read by Mr. Obama:

Taylor Branch's Parting the Waters
Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals
Steve Coll's Ghost Wars
Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon
Doris Lessing’s Golden Notebook
Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man
Fareed Zakaria’s The Post-American World
Reinhold Niebuhr’s writings
Elizabeth Alexander and Derek Walcott's poetry


amateur ear said...

James Baldwin was gay.

Wonderful that he was cited first in Obama's list.

gibbs cadiz said...

yep, he is! :)

Arbee said...

Yes, you bet he is.

I heard he is one of the coolest President of America, if not the coolest.

Nice blog here.

By the way, can I ask for your inputs on how you find my blog? I'm just new to this passion.

thanks for having me here.


beektur said...

Haay, kailan kaya matatapos ang pagkabighani ng munda sa mag-anak na Obama. O siya, siya, nanalo na siya. Ano na ang susunod na kabanata? Hindi nakapagtataka kung may magsusulat kung ano ang iniinom na kape ni Obama, ano ang mga paborito niyang palaman ng tinapay etc etc etc. Sabi minsan ni Rene Villanueva (SNAKK) "May kopya raw ng Les Miserables si Bonifacio. O eh, ano? Binasa ba talaga niya? Meron din akong kopya Les Miserables pero hanggang ngayon di ko pa natatapos." 1992 yon. Natapos kaya niya? :)

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