What do the late David Bowie and former president of the USA have in common? They are both major bookworms.
In his book Dreams from My Father, Barack Obama writes: “When I wasn’t working, the weekends would usually find me alone in an empty apartment, making do with the company of books.”
It is fascinating to me that President Obama says reading was a key to surviving his years in the White House. In am interview with New York Times chief book critic Michiko Kakutani, he said: “I loved reading when I was a kid, partly because I was travelling so much, and there were times where I’d be displaced, I’d be the outsider.” (This interview is far reaching and I recommend it to anyone interested in literature, reading and the written and/or spoken word.)
We all know people who look down on fiction writing and proudly proclaim they only read non-fiction. One statement Obama made which resonated with me is: “Fiction was useful as a reminder of the truths under the surface of what we argue about every day and was a way of seeing and hearing the voices, the multitudes of this country.”
He referenced a wide range of works, from books he’s read in recent years to those he recommended to his daughter Malia. Here are some of the books he mentioned:
Obama’s list includes Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, which he called “a well-constructed, well-written book”. Oops, I didn’t finish it!
As all book lovers know, one book leads to another and Obama’s list led me to the late David Bowie.
David’s son Duncan said: “My dad was a beast of a reader.” The Independent reported that Duncan has started an online book club dedicated to reading his father’s favourite books. He announced: “Alright gang! Anyone who wants to join along, we are reading Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor, as an amuse cerveau before we get into the heavy stuff.”
David Bowie first revealed his taste in books on his personal website in 2013, when he listed his top 100 books. Reputedly, David read at least one book per day – now doesn’t that blow the image of the hard-partying pop star. The first 10 titles from David’s Blog (the list full list is in no particular order) are as follows:
Whilst I confess having read only six out of the 20 books recommended by either Obama, or David Bowie, nonetheless, I found this peek into the reading tastes of two people with vastly different backgrounds and public personas, compelling.