the national interest

Trump Recommends Many Books But Never Says He Actually Read Them

President Trump, lover of great books. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

It is fall book season, and therefore President Trump has taken his time to recommend the most stimulating new tomes for his followers to stock their bookshelves with. This morning, Trump offers another pair of rave reviews:

Trump’s Twitter feed is a surprisingly rich source of book reviews. The president tends to focus on books that are set in the Fox News cinematic universe, featuring himself as the hero. His reviews tend to be written almost immediately after the books in question appear on Fox News. His reviews are almost always unvarnished raves, though when he is unable to fully recommend a book, his criticism veers quite far in the opposite direction (i.e, Fire and Fury, which he called a “Fake Book of a mentally deranged author.”) His reviews never combine criticism with praise.

Perhaps most notably, his reviews never, ever, state — or even directly imply — that he has actually read the book in question.

The most tepid form of Trump review will simply thank the authors for their efforts and wish them well:

At times he will endorse a book in the same explicit terms he uses to endorse fellow Republican candidates, or direct his audience to read it like it’s an election:

His most common assessment of a book is “great.” He is a lover of great books:

When Trump cannot quite bring himself to declare a book “great,” he will settle for “really good.”

Other times, he will dip into the thesaurus and summon synonyms for “great,” such as “really wonderful,” “terrific,” or “fantastic.” On a few occasions, Trump has come close to suggesting he has read the book in question by calling the “read” either “very good” or “terrific”:

But even this praise falls well short of stating that Trump has actually read it himself. And of course he hasn’t read any of them. Trump is a notorious bibliophobe who is unable to tolerate traditional presidential briefs, and must instead be updated in short, truncated, excited bursts.

But it would be extremely easy for Trump to claim that he read a book and enjoyed it. Trump is a notorious liar. He spins wild, elaborate lies. His fantasies of potency extend to taking credit for other people’s triumphs, or for triumphs that haven’t happened at all. He can and will get his supporters to believe almost anything. Yet somehow the one lie he has never tried to sell them on is that he actually read a book.

Trump Recommends Many Books But Never Says He Read Them