Obama, McCain Share Their Favorite Reads

by Staff

During the long presidential campaign season that finally ends tomorrow, Americans have read extensively about Barack Obama and John McCain. But what do the candidates themselves read? Last week, they shared their favorite books with CBS News anchor Katie Couric.

Obama cited the Bible as most influential, adding that Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon (Knopf, 1977) was among his favorites. “I’ve gotten a chance to know Toni Morrison during the course of this campaign,” Obama said, “and she’s just as elegent and wise and thoughtful as you would want her to be.” He also mentioned Shakespeare’s tragedies, saying the plays offer “insight into the human dilemma.”

For McCain, Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls (Scribner, 1940) is a favorite. “It’s about a fella from Montana that goes to Spain to fight a cause he believes in,” he told Couric.

It wasn’t the first time Obama injected some literary sensibility into the usual political rhetoric. In early July he emphasized the importance of reading to kids by telling an audience member at a campaign event in Virginia that he read J. K. Rowling’s entire Harry Potter series to his daughters while running for president.

Both candidates have also written books of their own. Obama won two Grammy awards for the spoken-word recordings of his books The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (Random House Audio, 2006) and Dreams From My Father (Random House Audio, 2005). McCain has coauthored several books with Mark Salter, including Faith of My Fathers: A Family Memoir (Random House, 1999).