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Taste in Books


Obama: Doctorow and Shakespeare
According to his Facebook page, Obama's favorite works are Song of Solomon, Moby Dick, Shakespeare's tragedies, Parting the Waters, Gilead, “Self-Reliance,” and the Bible. When asked in an interview which books had touched his life, he cited the “wonderful book” Gandhi’s Truth, by Erik Erikson. E.L. Doctorow and William Shakespeare are his favorite authors. As a high schooler seeking to clarify his own racial identity, Obama looked for answers in the works of James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, and W.E.B. Du Bois. He also read The Autobiography of Malcolm X at that time, a book now conspicuously absent from his reading lists.

McCain: It Tolls for He
When he returned from Hanoi, McCain began to patch the holes in his education rendered by five years in a prison cell. A voracious reader ever since, he is fondest of war stories. He enjoys The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and All Quiet on the Western Front, but his all-time favorite is Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. The main character’s last words—“The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it”—inspired the title for McCain's 2002 memoir, Worth Fighting For. McCain is infatuated with Hemingway’s doomed anti-Fascist hero. “There is nobody I’d rather be than Robert Jordan,” he once told the Arizona Daily Star.


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