the dawning of a new day

Sunrise Miami Beach.  The dawning of a new day.img_1371 

On the front page of yesterday’s New York Times was the headline, 

From Books, New President Found Voice.”

In case you missed it, here are some of the highlights.  Michiko Kakutani wrote that Mr. Obama’s  “appreciation of the magic of language and his ardent love of reading” have shaped his “sense of who he is.”

She also commented on Mr. Obama’s storytelling ability as evidenced in Dreams From My Father, and I agree with this.  I listened to Mr. Obama read his autobiography on a recent car trip.  But my favorite example of his storytelling abilities is listening and watching him tell the story of the power of one voice (fired up and ready to go). 

Kakutani said that Mr. Obama took what she called “the magpie approach to reading,” which she defined as ruminating upon writers’ ideas and picking and choosing those that flesh out his vision of the world or open promising new avenues of inquiry.”

Then she issued, whether knowingly or unknowingly, the following warning to people who count their books at the end of the year, competing with others or themselves (50 for me for 2008):  Mr. Bush “tended to race through books in competitions with Karl Rove,” who apparently beat the President in 2006, by 110 books to 95.  Yikes.  We know who we are.

Here’s what she called “A Reading List that Shaped a President”: img_1356

  • The Bible
  • Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch
  • Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Ghandhi’s autobiography
  • Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
  • Lincoln’s collected writings
  • Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  • Works of Reinhold Niebuhr
  • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  • Shakespeare’s tragedies.

Of these, I’ve read The Bible, The Golden Notebook, Song of Solomon, Gilead, and some of Shakespeare’s tragedies.

Kakutani concluded the article by making comparisons between Lincoln and Obama.  She quoted Fred Kaplan on Lincoln:  “He became what his language made him.”  Obama appears to be on the same track.  America and the world have a lot to look forward to.

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