June 7, 2016
Donald Trump claims to have read at least thirty-nine books
by Ian Dreiblatt
Recently, we reported on a recommended book list compiled by the beliebers-for-capital over at Goldman Sachs. Noting that the firm appears to be terrible at dealing with large sums of money — literally the only thing it exists to do — we speculated that it might prove interesting to know what’s lining the bookshelves of the immature persons behind the fall of the vampire squid.
And speaking of immature persons, now there’s a new reading list making the rounds — several new lists, in fact, emanating from none other than Donald J. Trump, a glob of overactive digestive juices that has fleetingly taken human form to vie for the presidency of the United States. The Goldman list mercifully confined itself to comparatively recent publications focused on areas of interest to financial professionals (including the likes of Markets, Mobs & Mayhem: How to Profit From the Madness of Crowds, a valuable resource for anyone who thinks showering during a house fire is a good model for domestic economic policy); in contrast, Trump — who is, as we’ve also recently reported, a motherfucker — recommends books on a range of topics, their authorship spanning millennia.
It began with a recent interview with Michael Wolff of the Hollywood Reporter, in which The Donald, asked what he was reading, produced perhaps the The-Donald-est sentence ever uttered about a work of fiction: “I’m reading a book that I’ve read before, it’s one of my favorite books, All Quiet on the Western Front, which is one of the greatest books of all time.” (NB This could be worse, actually, and provided Wolff the opportunity to speculate that the title was something Trump was “suddenly remembering from high school. But what the hell.”) Trump also claimed to be reading “the book on Richard Nixon that was, well, I’ll get you the exact information on it” (several books have been written on Richard Nixon, so his story pretty much checks out), as well as Ed Klein’s Unlikeable: The Problem with Hillary (which is pretty smart, when you think about it, because Trump is literally running for president against someone named Hillary right now).
But The Orange One’s recommendations don’t end there. Now a Goodreads user, who on the site goes by the name Frederick Frankenstein, has perused Trump’s own writing and come up with a list of sixteen other titles the faintly humanoid inverted blowhole has touted in other contexts. The books include Trump’s own Trump: The Art of the Deal (which is surprising, since he hardly seems the type for self-promotion), Sun Tzu’s The Art of War (a prescient treatise on Manhattan real estate dating from the fifth century BCE), Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals (Donald Trump has not read this book), Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince (reputation notwithstanding, a well-written and sober book about good governance that Donald Trump also has not read), Iacocca: An Autobiography (which Trump has paid someone to read aloud to him while he slavers over his morning steaks, or at least imagining it that way is something no one can ever take from me), and, not least of all, Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else (pro tip: you don’t have to be born rich into a family of KKK-supporting, folk-song-villain landlords, but it helps).
(Notably absent from the list is Octavia E. Butler’s The Parable of the Talents, a 1998 novel set in a post-apocalyptic America where a Christian fascist from Texas by the name of Andrew Steele Jarrett has risen to the presidency after campaigning under the promise that he will — you guessed it — “Make America Great Again.”)
These aren’t the only books Trump has publicly recommended. Back in 2011, while speaking with reporters from China’s state-run Xinhua news agency, Trump spontaneously rattled off a list of twenty books he had read about that country. It included Henry Kissinger’s On China (because Henry Kissinger is a dignified genius), Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (a book that celebrated doofus David Brooks called “soft and indulgent” — those most un-Donald of qualities!), and Gavin Menzies’s 1421: The Year China Discovered America, which is what it sounds like and has been roundly discredited but at least contains a few interesting tangents about hippopotamus-hunting. “I know the Chinese. I’ve made a lot of money with the Chinese. I understand the Chinese mind,” Trump went on to say, referring to approximately one-fifth of humanity.
It remains to be seen whether Trump, who if elected would be the only president in US history with a Walk-of-Fame star that people keep coaxing their pets to shit on, can in fact read. One hopes so, if only for the pleasure of imagining him engrossed in the great unwritten novel of American decline in which he may one day figure as a protagonist.
Ian Dreiblatt is the former Director of Digital Media at Melville House.