January 26, 2017

Donald Trump doesn’t [know how to?] read, but if he did, National Book Foundation director Lisa Lucas would have some pretty solid recommendations for him


Recently, Lisa Lucas, director of the National Book Foundation, spoke with Time about being both the first woman and first black person to hold this office, the role of literature in America right now, and a couple of totally dissimilar US presidents.

In President Barack Obama, Lucas tells the magazine, we had “a wonderful reader,” someone who continually expressed that he lived by and for literature — and meant it.

In Donald Trump, we have, well, precisely not that. Our forty-fifth president’s very ability to read has been seriously called into question. We have a president who just really likes All Quiet on the Western Front, a book he started in 7th grade and is still reading. We have a president who, asked what he’s been reading lately, could not even fake an answer, despite the fact that there were several books in the room with him. We have a president who, already, just days into his presidency, is making moves to seriously restrict the freedoms of speech and press.

We have, to put it gently, a very different president. So where then, book-wise, should Trump begin?

Lisa Lucas has some suggestions. Good ones, of course:

I’d recommend some books that have recently been celebrated by the foundation: Claudia Rankine’s Citizen; John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell’s March; Arlie Russell Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land; and Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped From the Beginning.

Or, if those all reside outside Trump’s Lexile score, and they very well may — how about… The Lorax?




Chad Felix is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House, and a former bookseller.