Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

The Presidential Reading Table

When you are President of the United States, very little is off limits, including your bedside reading table.

Bloomberg News saw fit to report on President Obama’s trip over the weekend to a local independent bookstore, aptly named Politics and Prose, where he purchased a stack of 17 books.

Stupid, smelly busThe selections included Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus and A Barnyard Collection: Click, Clack, Moo and More. We can presume these purchases were either for his daughters or homework for the President’s next children’s book.

The Laughing Monsters and Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms were either purchases for his daughters or homework for the President’s next two years working with a Republican-controlled Congress. He also chose All the Light We Cannot See and Nuts to You, which may be tutorials on dealing with people who define success by your failure.

We learn from the Bloomberg Report that Obama likes to tackle one classic novel every year. This year’s choice is Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which chronicles the blurred and converging differences between civilization and savagery. Conrad’s upriver journey became the motif used in the film Apocalypse Now, which showed that civilization and savagery exist on both ends of the boat trip.

Recognizing the futility that lies ahead, Obama may be steeling for his reality by reading The Narrow Road to the Deep North, I Spy Sticker Book and Picture Riddles, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China and Being Mortal:Medicine and What Matters in the End.

heart-of-darkness1No one really believes what Obama reads will gurgle out as presidential policy. These are just the books he and his family read in their off time, which is generally the time when Fox News is devoting its full energy excoriating Hillary Clinton for what it imagines she will do as President.

If they are like most people, the Obamas read for relaxation and pleasure. Pages of books offer an escape to a place where they aren’t the center of scrutiny, where teenage eye rolls at their father when he is pardoning a turkey don’t really matter.

Then again, diving into the forested jungle of the Heart of Darkness could foreshadow a new chapter in Obama’s presidency. Or maybe Obama is just bracing for a rough ride on Junie Jones’ stupid, smelly bus.





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