It occurs to me that Trump needs an idiot’s guide to government, among other essential books. He should do it for the country’s sake.
Books are our best friends, Mrs. Martin told us in first grade. I may have taken her too literally sometimes, but I’m glad I spent so many hours lost inside books when I was a kid, and books are still with me now.
I often have conversations with people or exchange emails with them and think how much easier it would be to communicate if they’d just read this book or that one. Some shared understanding and background helps move a dialogue along.
Occasionally I’ll end a conversation by suggesting a couple of books on a given topic. I was thinking about doing that for a reader the other day, and because I’d just read my daily dose of Trump news, I thought perhaps someone should send a couple of books to him.
As you might guess, that is not an original idea. I figured someone had compiled such a list, so I did a search and found a number of them.
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One list included, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to U.S. Government and Politics,” which I thought was just a joke at first, but there is actually a book with that title, and I think it could be very useful to the president and to many citizens as well.
Still, I don’t suppose it addresses whether it’s a good idea for a president to fire the FBI director as a way of dealing with an investigation into the president’s campaign. Maybe reading “All The President’s Men” might have shed light on how choices like that could be viewed.
Every office holder ought to be a reader of history. We all should be. I look at the History News Network online frequently to see what’s new, and last week I saw a piece by Yale historian David W. Blight under the headline: “If A President Makes History, He Should Know Some History.”
Blight suggested Trump take a break for one or two months at one of his resorts where a group of historians could bring him books and teach him some basics.
“A crash course in reading, or perhaps just in watching documentary films, about the history of American foreign policy as well as the history of slavery and race relations in particular could be the core of the curriculum. Some biographies, a good history of women and gender, a genuine tutorial on the Civil Rights era, and even a serious digestion of good works on the Gilded Age and the New Deal legacies might be required. And finally, a primer on Constitutional history would be essential too …”
A few books on science and economics would be helpful. The list could go on and on. Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.” James Baldwin’s “The Fire Next Time.” Ronald Takaki’s “A Different Mirror.” Rick Shenkman’s “Political Animals.”
Back in February, a group called “Leaders Are Readers” suggested that people show some love by sending the president books on Valentine’s Day.
Of course, there might be a problem with these suggestions. Trump has said many times that he’s just not much of a reader, doesn’t have time for it. He’s a TV guy.
That is unfortunate, but it’s not the biggest problem we have. Lots of Americans stop reading books when they leave school, and even young people who are still in school sometimes forsake books over the summer.
According to the Literacy Project Foundation, in any given year 44 percent of adults in the U.S. will not read a single book.
Our civic discussions and even our election results might look different if more people spent time with books.
It would probably be a waste to send books to Trump, but we can read more ourselves, give a book to a friend and support summer reading programs that keep kids’ minds engaged and help them develop good literacy habits.