Song of Solomon and 7 more books that made Obama

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The 44th President of the United States of America about the most significant books in his life. Here is his book list

“Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison

“Song of Solomon” ends up on many to-read book lists because of the author’s 1993 Nobel Prize for literature, and because the book itself won the prestigious National Book Critics Fiction award in 1977. Somewhat like the James Joyce classic “Ulysses”, this book combines historical elements, free association, and unanswerable questions in the life of its main character. Beginning with a suicide and a black child’s birth into a Michigan hospital, Morrison explores the complicated role of black family life, its heritage and its possible future. Though the poetic style remains the same as some of her other works, such as “Beloved” and “The Bluest Eye”, Morrison stretches herself in this novel by using a male perspective.

                  “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Although essays aren’t as popular as when Emerson was alive in the mid-1800’s, this essay has become one of the author’s most notable achievements. Emerson’s works have graced many other famous writer’s reading lists, from Emily Dickinson to fellow poet Thoreau. Emerson’s philosophy as expressed in “Self-Reliance” embraced a combination of non-conformity to social trends, and the belief that what made one’s own heart beat faster was a universal trait. Also a great believer in the ‘light within’, Emerson gives continual nods to a divine Providence while holding fast to man’s inherent goodness, and the necessity of holding to one’s own convictions despite the inclinations and pressures of the crowd.

  “For Whom the Bell Tolls”by Ernest Hemingway

One of Hemingway’s most celebrated novels, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is an adventure story of almost mythic proportions. It has made more than a few book lists, from the American Library Association’s ‘most banned classics’ to the Modern Library’s top 100 novels of the 20th Century in English. The protagonist, a teacher named Robert Jordan, finds love and battle in the Spanish Civil War. Pilar, one of the most influential and passionate characters (though not the love interest), displayed the ‘Everyman’ fierce peasant spirit and embodied the name of the author’s fishing vessel. Hemingway wrote what he knew from his first-hand experience in that war, as well as World War I, in which he was injured while driving an ambulance.

 “The Federalist” by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay

This book is made of a series of essays on the validity and necessity of the United States Constitution, though it is more commonly referred to as the Federalist Papers. To shield the authors from political backlash, the original publication showed Roman pseudonyms for Hamilton, Madison, and Jay. The reasoning behind political phrases in common use today, such as “checks and balances” and “bill of rights”, are worked out in 85 numbered works, from turf wars between states (8) and the economic advantage of unified states (13). This work has been making itself known on book lists since its inclusion in the New World Book List of 1890.

  “ThePower and the Glory” by Graham Greene

While the main character in Graham Greene’s novel “The Power and the Glory” hasn’t lived the pure life of Jesus, his experiences while on the run in Mexico provide an eery similarity to his Lord’s sufferings. The nameless priest shows quite human flaws, with a daughter from a past love affair and a current drinking problem, while the antagonistic lieutenant (an atheist) appears more as a reverse Javier from Les Miserables. Greene personally suffered his way through a two-month research tour in Mexico, according to John Updike’s New York Times review in 1990, but the result still shows up on must-read book lists, from Oprah’s book club to one of Barack Obama’s favorite books.

“FDR” by Jean EdwardSmith

While many books have been written about Franklin Delano Roosevelt, focusing on his struggles with polio and foreign policy, not many have been written by professors at Marshall University or condensed into one volume. FDR’s relationships with women, from his strong and confident mother to his secretary (to his love-interest, Lucy) are covered just as well as the Japanese internment camps and the dynamics of the New Deal. FDR shows up as a must-read on book lists, from the favorite book of interior designer Norman Kreiss to the Amazon best seller book list. Smith has shown up on the Pulitzer Prize nomination list, for a previous work on another former President (Grant).

“The Quiet American”by Graham Greene

Also recommended by Anderson Cooper

Partly a mystery, partly a social commentary. Greene’s book belongs on mystery, history, and social commentary reading lists. Ostensibly, it’s about a love triangle between an American, an Englishman, and an Asian woman. Behind the human tragedy is the tragedy of the French Indochina war, which served as a precursor to the Vietnam War. The first chapter describes Pyle the American as learned in books and political philosophy, in contrast to Phuong the Asian woman who is unaware of even the biggest movements of the outside world, and the underlying issue of the opium trade.

Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak

– Barack Obama

This illustrated adventure book has been making book lists almost since publication. Sendak’s classic won the Caldecott Medal in 1964, as the year’s Most Distinguished Picture Book for children. It’s easy to see why. Max is a very relatable child who wants to dominate his environment, especially his mother. In a fantasy land of fearsome beasts, he is allowed to tame and conquer the way he would never be allowed to do at home, eventually becoming their honored king after a battle of wills. Google honored this 17 million seller, and favorite book of children worldwide, by showcasing a Wild Things illustration (or “doodle”) on June 10 of 2013.

Top books to read according to Bill Clinton

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photo: Mou-ikkai (flickr)

Top books to read according to one of the most influential politicians in the USA of the 21st century

 “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People ” by Stephen Covey

– Bill Clinton

Covey’s business classic has been making CEO one of top books to read since its publication in 1989 – it has sold around 15 million copies. Getting rid of the urgent, and expanding the list of important but non-urgent tasks, should be on every busy leader’s mind. Covey’s emphasis on making lists and creating new lasting habits isn’t new, but the illustrations and emphasis on cultivating inner character traits (such as personal responsibility rather than a winning personality) tend to be remembered long after reading time is over. While critics claim that the book is too simplistic in outlook, applying the principles of First Things First, listening before speaking, and teaming with other leaders can take a lifetime to fully implement.

“Lincoln”by David Herbert Donald

Bill Clinton listed this book as one of his top choices in “Today” show on NBC.

The most asked question about President Lincoln comes down to this – how did he rise from grinding poverty to world-influencing power? Using personal letters and a winning style, David Herbert Donald deserves a spot on any history student’s book list by emphasizing Lincoln’s decision-making ability while underlining his humanity and many oversights in judgment. Personal matters such as Lincoln’s family and marital relationships are woven in, though they aren’t the focus so much as the background. The history, tendencies, and outcome of Lincoln’s decisions surrounding the Civil War are examined with a careful eye to detail, along with little-known facts about Lincoln’s leadership of the Illinois bar.

 “The Emperor’s Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations” by MarcusAurelius

– Bill Clinton

Called a “must-read” by Steve Forbes, and praised for its manly tone of translation by Jacques Barzun, this book may become as much of a business classic as Sun Tzu’s “Art of War”. The emphasis on personal virtue despite others’ inclinations or pressures, reality versus fantasy thinking, and viewing obstacles as the road to improvement, are just as applicable now as in the second century A.D. Other readers who added this Aurelius work to their reading lists include the former leader of the US Ethics office (Stephen Potts), a former director of the CIA (Admiral Turner), and a Yale history professor. Hillsdale Academy included this book in its recommended summer reading list for students.

   “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Bill Clinton listed this book as one of his top choices in “Today” show on NBC.

Also mentioned in 6 Books That Everyone Must Read. Paulo Coelho Recommends

This winner of a spot on the Oprah reading list is focused on time and family. The small town of Macondo, begun by Jose and Ursula Buendia, is affected if insulated from the rest of Colombia and the world. Marquez explores human issues, from solitude to politics and poverty, from the perspective of five generations of the founding family – while the dangers from without become the dangers from within. Written in a vivid poetic style, English professor Kiely of the New York Times called this book an overwhelming mix between idealism and practicality. This may also be an accurate description of the author’s childhood in a small Colombian coastal town, fed fantastical stories of ghosts and soldiers by his grandparents.

“LifeIs What You Make It” by Peter Buffett

– Bill Clinton

Also recommended by Bill Gates, Jamie Dimon

.

Though the author bears such famous last name, Buffet, he claims that he hasn´t inherited much from his parents, concerning materialistic issues. He was gifted with a family philosophy: “Everybody must find his own way in this life”. This warm, mind broadening, and inspirational book asks every reader, what will he choose: the way of least resistance or the way greatest satisfaction? In some sense this is the life story of Peter Buffet himself.

“TheImitation of Christ” by Thomas à Kempis

Bill Clinton has put this book on a list of the books that have been the most influential in his life (the list made by Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company).

Five hundred years after writing his mystical meditations, Kempis’ work is still included on modern reading lists of philosophy professors (such as Dallas Willard) and non-profit organizations alike (such as Joshua’s Way). Classic Christian living themes are explored, from the knowledge of truth to the dangers of temptation, along with the necessity of a proper perspective on death and judgment. Despite the heavy-sounding topics, the Christian Classics Ethereal Library promotes this work on its books list as “gentle”, with an emphasis on the lovingkindness of the Almighty.

“KingLeopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa”by Adam Hochschild

Bill Clinton listed this book as one of his top choices in “Today” show on NBC.

Hochschild’s book may shed equally shed light on a forgotten historical figure (King Leopold II) as well as an English teacher’s favorite on high school reading lists: Heart of Darkness. The late 19th century monarch of Belgium cleverly built up a political reputation for altruistic works, while creating an economic stranglehold on the Congo. Natural resources of ivory and rubber were taken at gunpoint, along with forced labor from terrified villagers. Meanwhile, help was extracted via clever lobbying of the United States government for the abolition of the slave trade. Hoschild points out the freedom fighters who contributed to bringing the truth about Leopold’s reign to the world, from missionaries to shipping agents.

The Denial of Death” by Ernest Becker

Bill Clinton has put this book on a list of the books that have been the most influential in his life (the list made by Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company).

Describing the earth as an immense burial mound or wasteland of fertilizer, Becker points out man’s desire and inability to rise above the knowledge that he is mortal. Animals only have this knowledge momentarily, while humans must struggle with their abilities and inabilities along the road to the grave. Becker’s favorite reading list includes authors such as Søren Kierkegaard and Otto Rank, whose ideas crop up frequently in Becker’s assertion that the overwhelming reality of man’s terror of death is often overcome by the fiction of religion, or the temporary distractions of life.

TheWay of the World: From the Dawn of Civilizations to the Eve of the Twenty-first Century” by David Fromkin

Bill Clinton listed this book as one of his top choices in “Today” show on NBC.

The role of leaders pushing unremittingly for progress is one of the themes of Fromkin’s work, which seeks to explore one of man’s fundamental questions: where did we come from to get here? High school and college students needing to expand their reading lists may be attracted to the small size of the book, and those with an extensive book list of favorites may be attracted by the author’s Pulitzer Prize nomination. In under 300 pages, Fromkin moves through the biggest highlights of the ancient and modern world, from Socrates to Copernicus to Thomas Edison, from an agricultural to an industrial society.

“Nonzero:The Logic of Human Destiny” by Robert Wright

Bill Clinton has put this book on a list of the books that have been the most influential in his life (the list made by Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company).

In the gaming world, having one winner that necessitates one loser is a zero-sum game. Wright asserts that life on Earth is more complex, with some combinations resulting in a win on multiple fronts, or losing in many categories. Using historical examples beyond the Crusades, Wright brings out the idea that history is truly moving toward a destination point beyond mere orderly chaos developed at random – that nearly limitless information and the global era are ahead. Readers whose favorites list include “Guns, Germs and Steel” may see intriguing similarities, but devotees of Stephen J. Gould may not appreciate Wright as an addition to their reading list.

Bloomberg recommends

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photo: Ralph Alswang (flickr)

Billionier, philanthropist, mayor of New York City about his favourite reading. 2 awesome books

The Honourable Schoolboy: A George Smiley Novel” by John le Carre

– Michael Bloomberg

In the same vein as the Bruce Willis film, The Last Boy Scout, le Carre leads his readers on an adventure about men trying to maintain some higher principles in the face of those without conscience. In this second segment of the George Smiley trilogy, the tension of the Cold War is set against the plodding determination of Smiley the spy. There are battles on the homefront (an unfaithful wife), battles across nations (British intelligence versus the power of the Soviets and West Germany), and Allied attacks of the press (the Americans). Anyone who appreciates the James Bond sagas of Ian Fleming, or the terror of the Bourne Identity, should add this to their reading list.

  “How Will You Measure YourLife?” by Clayton M. Christensen

– Michael Bloomberg

More than just a Harvard Business Review addition to the reading list, Christensen’s work is a deeply personal work about the importance of life philosophy…intermingled with business. A great influence on Steve Jobs, and recommended as required reading by the Huffington Post, this would be a good time investment. Business case studies are present, but without the pom-poms and bootstrap mentality of many books encouraging readers to change their lives along with their overwhelming work ethic. The ending chapter on avoiding prison time truly shows the underlying themes of the entire book. It takes a great deal of work to both create something good, enjoy it, and maintain your principles in the face of pressure.

George Bush’s suggested reading

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George Bush recommends some fiction and historical books which helped him most when he was a president. Here is his book list.

“The Case ForDemocracy” by Natan Sharansky

– from article on Time

Whether you’re looking for a political treatise, a polemic against Communism, or a personal fighting manifesto, Sharansky and Dermer have it all. Sharansky is especially strong against societies who promote fear instead of freedom of speech, and has lived out his convictions as an outspoken ex-member of the now-defunct USSR. The social ramifications of leaders caught between the believers and the skilled double-talkers are explored, from the East to the West to Israel. Sharansky has served in Israel’s political circles for many years. According to the New York Times, his book was a necessary addition to the reading lists of White House leaders, including Condoleezza Rice and former President George W. Bush.

“April 1865: The MonthThat Saved America by Jay Winik

– from article on Time

After the horrors of Atlanta and Gettysburg, Winik argues that the continued unity of the states in the North and South had more to do with April 1865 than any other month. The respect shown between generals Lee and Grant had much to do with the state of the Union (and its salvation from decades of bushwhacking guerrilla warfare), as well as President Lincoln’s assassination. However, some uncommon details, such as the March 1865 policy allowing former slaves to win their freedom in battle, will make this work a welcome addition to anyone’s history book list, from George W. Bush to BrotherRogers.

Ronald Reagan book recommendations

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The 40th President of the United States suggests 2 books to read. Here is his reading list.

    “Witness” byWhittaker Chambers

An autobiography about an ex-Communist who informed against former comrades, this book is known as much for its value as a historical reading list addition, as its assertions. Chambers made the claim that hidden groups of Communists had infiltrated to the highest levels of Washington politics – because he had been a member of its underground movement. The book details Chamber’s introduction to the Communist party in America, his eventual flight out of Communist circles, and the excruciatingly slow Congressional investigations and court appointments. Alongside the story of politics is also a man’s journey through the world of journalism in the New York Times, and the rebuilding of his spiritual roots alongside the growth of his family farm.

                  “A Princess of Mars” by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Unlike the reading list additions of Ray Bradbury, Burroughs’ descriptions of Mars read more like the vast fantasy of H.G. Wells’ mixture of detailed grandeur. Those wanting to escape into a novel with a knight in shining armor won’t be disappointed by John Carter, who brings old Earth world notions of chivalry and hospitality into the new and harsh planet of Mars. After Carter has turned from captive to conqueror, leading in battle scenes fierce with action, his civilizing effect on the planet is felt. Love and family life are even made possible with a maiden of Mars, and the chronicle of Carter’s years on the planet make for a satisfying read.

Vladimir Putin’s 9 favorite books

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Russian president, one of the most influential people in the world recommends his favorite books

   “The Wine of Wisdom: TheLife, Poetry and Philosophy of Omar Khayyam”

My wife has recently given me a great present: Omar Khayam’s poems. It helps me in many difficult situations. I recommend you to buy this book

– Vladimir Putin

One of the best book recommendations for this fascinating compilation of Persian poems comes from Dee Hock, the intrepid founder of the Visa credit card. Just as Steve Jobs was more than fond of reading the poems of William Blake (per a Lifehacker article), and the founder of Harman Industries quotes Shakespeare, Khayyám’s poem is as well-known for its soul-searching beauty as for the fact that a mathematician wrote it. Explorations of life’s temporary nature jogs elbows with alcohol, as the author strives to make sense of the call of religion versus the immediacy of death – and the folly of trying to find Paradise on earth.

                  “The Three Musketeers” by Alexandre Dumas

I enjoyed reading Dumas’ books

– Vladimir Putin

There should be more book recommendations made on Dumas’ masterpiece, than just for the worn-out Musketeers’ quote on the magic blend of individuality and brotherly unity. There are enough quotable insults to sink a small Shakespearian ship, just between Athos and Aramis and Porthos, besides the wrangles they have with the young hothead D’Artagnan. There is villainy most foul, with Cardinal Richelieu trying to have young King Louis XIII assassinated, and Queen Anne to prove that all women’s love is not as fickle as that of Lady de Winter. A host of minor characters, including the Musketeers’ manservants, keep the dialogue lively, and the sinister blend of high-level politics and love keep everyone occupied.

                  “The Brothers Karamasov” by Dostoevsky

Vladimir Putin in one of the interviews said that his favorite authors are Dostoevsky and Tolstoy and recommended “The Brothers Karamasov” and “Crime and Punishment”

Also recommended by Albert Einstein, mentioned in 5 Good Books To Read According To Haruki Murakami

This is of the best allegorical novels to explain the fractured nature of 19th century Russia. Each character is representative of one of the ruling classes. There is the father Fyodor, the landowner who is negligent about his land, but greedy in using its produce for himself. There’s Dmitri, who has been passed around from house to house, and has grown up an entitled but debt-ridden soul. There’s the skeptic Ivan, who wishes to live more among cold concepts than people. Third is gentle Alyosha, the mystic and religious peacemaker, and the illegitimate Smerdyakov. Throughout are themes of love, law, and duty, which makes this one of the best Dostoyesky books to read besides Crime and Punishment.

Crime and Punishment” byDostoevsky

Vladimir Putin in one of the interviews said that his favorite authors are Dostoevsky and Tolstoy and recommended “The Brothers Karamasov” and “Crime and Punishment”

This is Dostoyevsky’s second most famous work (besides Brothers Karamasov), and also centers around a crime and a court case. Roskolnikov, a student deeply in debt and intellectual (and moral) issues, has a mad desire to kill the pawnbroker who owns some of his valuables, in order to pay his landlady. There are plenty of family and social issues to be explored, including the link between prostitution and arranged family marriages, the downward spiral of madness, and the nature of poverty and charity. The character of psychological detective Porfiry would prove especially interesting reading for those who love Les Miserables and Javier, the bulldog of the law.

  “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy

Vladimir Putin in one of the interviews named Leo Tolstoy among one of his two favorite authors and included “Anna Karenina” in his book recommendation list.

More humanly centered than his other well-known work, War and Peace, Tolstoy makes it clear that life is far too complicated for easy handouts of mercy or judgment. The novel begins with a case of family brokenness and adultery, and sympathy is geared mostly toward the malefactor. As the story unfolds, the dark sides of the likable siblings appear (Anna and Stiva), who are outwardly accepted by society in the face of moral betrayal. The contrast between Anna, who runs away with her lover Vronsky, and Lenin (who marries Vronsky’s former romantic interest), is especially worth reading. As one falls, the other rises, seeming to imply that following one’s heart is only as worthwhile as true morality is also followed.

     “The Singing Heart: A Book ofQuiet Reflections” by Ivan Ilyin

Vladimir Putin knows well the works of Ivan Ilyin – a prominent Russian philosopher. Russian President has also quoted Ilyin several times in his Address to the Federal Assembly.

   “The Destiny of Man” by NicolaiBerdyaev

Vladimir Putin has quoted Berdyaev in his Address to the Federal Assembly.

“For Whom the BellTolls” by Ernest Hemingway

– Vladimir Putin in an interview to Outdoor Life

Also mentioned in Song Of Solomon And 7 More Books That Made Obama

One of Hemingway’s most celebrated novels, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is an adventure story of almost mythic proportions. It has made more than a few book lists, from the American Library Association’s ‘most banned classics’ to the Modern Library’s top 100 novels of the 20th Century in English. The protagonist, a teacher named Robert Jordan, finds love and battle in the Spanish Civil War. Pilar, one of the most influential and passionate characters (though not the love interest), displayed the ‘Everyman’ fierce peasant spirit and embodied the name of the author’s fishing vessel. Hemingway wrote what he knew from his first-hand experience in that war, as well as World War I, in which he was injured while driving an ambulance.

Sketches from a Hunter’sAlbum” by Ivan Turgenev

– Vladimir Putin in an interview to Outdoor Life

Those who love the Hunger Games series won’t be disappointed by this Russia classic. These 25 real-life observations of Turgenev include the human landscape, from peasants to mothers and doctors, in their struggle for existence and poetic depictions of sorrow. In the end, his insights of beauty and sorrow led to the hunter becoming hunted by the state, although rumor has it that these tales also led to the abolition of the serf classes’ misery.

Joseph Stalin’s book recommendations

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photo: Wikimedia

As historians say Stalin was an avid reader: in average he read about 300 pages a day. The leader of the communist Soviet Union on books that changed him

  The Ladies’ Paradise” by ÉmileZola

Émile Zola was among the authors admired by Joseph Stalin

This novel of 19th-century Paris (and its BBC film production) may be no match for the grace of Downtown Abbey on screen, but Octave Mouret’s escapades in personal and professional sales can hold readers spellbound. The mixture of the innocent country girl thrust into city life and struggle (Denise Baudu) are reminiscent of Fantine in Les Misérables, while the exploration of business and politics also strike a similar note. The lion-like image of the department store ruling over human lives is symbolic of the highs and lows of consumerist culture today.

                  “The Brothers Karamasov” by Dostoevsky

In one of the conversations with his daughter Stalin mentioned Dostoyevsky as an example of a deep psychologist. It is known that since his youth Stalin was reading Dostoevsky with great interest. While reading “The Brothers Karamazov”, Stalin has made a lot highlights and notes in the margins

Also recommended by Albert Einstein, Vladimir Putin, mentioned in 5 Good Books To Read According To Haruki Murakami

This is of the best allegorical novels to explain the fractured nature of 19th century Russia. Each character is representative of one of the ruling classes. There is the father Fyodor, the landowner who is negligent about his land, but greedy in using its produce for himself. There’s Dmitri, who has been passed around from house to house, and has grown up an entitled but debt-ridden soul. There’s the skeptic Ivan, who wishes to live more among cold concepts than people. Third is gentle Alyosha, the mystic and religious peacemaker, and the illegitimate Smerdyakov. Throughout are themes of love, law, and duty, which makes this one of the best Dostoyesky books to read besides Crime and Punishment.

   “The Crowd: A Study of thePopular Mind” by Gustave Le Bon

To some extent, echoes of Le Bon’s book can be found in the works of Stalin, who has studied the work of Le Bon and has drawn his own conclusions from this book

Either meant for everyday reading or as an introduction to sociology, this book indicates why Wal-Mart crowds act both mindfully and mindlessly on Black Friday. The suppression of logic mixed with enhanced emotion makes for a charged atmosphere, as individuals lose their ability to be restrained while buoyed by a feeling of invincibility. The equality and unity of a crowd can be a powerful tool, or a double-edged sword. The secret lies in the capture of the imagination, for a crowd’s momentum can be enhanced or governed by images.

 ”The Knight in the PantherSkin” by Shota Rustavel

Stalin knew all the old translations of this book, and when the new edition of the book was being published in 1940-1941, he even made several amendments to the translation from Georgian

The Bible

Stalin has been quoting long passages from the Bible

  Stories of Anton Chekhov

Stalin has been quoting passages from Chekhov many times

Out of these thirty top stories of one of Russia’s premier writers, Chekhov had a personal favorite: “The Student”. The mood shifts from contemplation of history (Peter and Ivan the Terrible) to a deep discussion with widowed neighbors about Biblical and spiritual topics, to the joyous uplift of past meeting present. This trajectory could describe many of Checkhov’s unflinching portrayals of poverty, marriages without affection, and older members of the family in a state of death near a stove. Almost every story has a redemptive note of hope mixed in with levels of bleak despair.

The Prince” byNiccolo Machiavelli

This is said to be one of the most favorite books of Stalin, from which he took advice on governing the state

Also included in Best Leadership Books According To Donald Trump, 7 Books To Read Before You Die According To Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Called everything from “ruthless” to “masterpiece” over its checkered publishing career, civil servant Machiavelli’s posthumous work can be bundled on a reading list with the Art of War for true insight on how to build power and decimate enemies. (Perhaps this is also why Donald Trump has added “The Prince” to his reading list of books leading to success.) Though the advice was meant for the Medici ruling family in Italy, the principles can still hold true, or at least shed a light on how to weave through the murky waters of politics.

Hillary Clinton on books that shaped her mind

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photo: Wikimedia

One of the most influential American politicians on fiction she has learned a lot from

“The Brothers Karamasov” by Dostoevsky

During her tour in New Hampshire, Clinton named Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov” as her favorite book

Also recommended by Albert Einstein, Vladimir Putin, mentioned in 5 Good Books To Read According To Haruki Murakami

This is of the best allegorical novels to explain the fractured nature of 19th century Russia. Each character is representative of one of the ruling classes. There is the father Fyodor, the landowner who is negligent about his land, but greedy in using its produce for himself. There’s Dmitri, who has been passed around from house to house, and has grown up an entitled but debt-ridden soul. There’s the skeptic Ivan, who wishes to live more among cold concepts than people. Third is gentle Alyosha, the mystic and religious peacemaker, and the illegitimate Smerdyakov. Throughout are themes of love, law, and duty, which makes this one of the best Dostoyesky books to read besides Crime and Punishment.

                  “The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance” by Edmund de Waal

– from interview to The New York Times

In the 1800’s, the family of Ephrussis bankers lit up the Parisienne and Venetian world in similar fashion to the Vanderbilts and Morgans of the Roaring ‘20s. However, the family left behind much less as a legacy – just 264 ‘netuske’ carvings of Japanese ivory and wood. These carvings were given by one family member (an inspiration to Marcel Proust) to a cousin for her wedding gift, but when Austria was annexed by Germany, only the carvings remained as a memorial. History students who enjoy a mixture of royal and peasant life stories (the carvings were hidden in a straw mattress) will want to read this multiple award-winning account.

                  “The Signature of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert

Gilbert took over a decade to write an award-winning novel of love, science, and the lure of knowledge. Ostensibly, the novel hinges on a tale of ambition and botany, just as her most famous novel (Eat, Pray, Love) is ostensibly about overcoming depression following a divorce. A winter-born ugly duckling child named Alma is born in Philadelphia to a wealthy titan who made his fortune on exotic plants. As Alma becomes dissatisfied with unfulfilling social life and fascinated with her own internal contradictions, she begins a tour of exotic locations to discover that the plant world can speak to the world of humans.

Citizens of London” by LynneOlson

If you’ve ever wondered about Winston Churchill’s inner circle, this 2010 Amazon Best Book of the Month will reveal the bold souls who forged an Anglo-American alliance before the public came on board. From pragmatism to idealism, these men reflect the spirit of their age, and yet defied the slow-moving speed at which an old world power and a young world power decided to combine purposes against the dominance of Nazi Germany. Fans of aviation history will be glad to know the background of the Eagle Squadrons, made up of Americans who volunteered their services to the RAF war effort.

A Suitable Boy” by Vikram Seth

In 1950’s India, it is most important that a lovely Indian girl have an arranged marriage with an impressive groom. This novel of magical realism weaves together the lives of four families, and has been described as a Dickensian work meant for 20th Century readers. Dickens’ style of the thin veneer of civilization overborne by waves of human misery or quiet suffering is evident in Seth’s work, especially in dealing with the oppressive tapestry of the caste system that rules the lives of India, from the most to the least privileged. The author’s own mother swept through London bar exams to become India’s first female chief justice.

 “Our Divided Political Heart”by E. J. Dionne

– from interview to The New York Times

What is truly the soul of America – a rugged individualism or a balance of individual and communal strengths? Washington Post columnist and Oxford Rhodes scholar Dionne argues that the country’s political split could be traced to a misunderstanding of the Federal vision shared by both the Founding Fathers to the Progressives – that the Federal government is a partner in the promotion of national greatness and prosperity. From former President Bill Clinton to Hendrik Hertzberg and Rachel Maddow, Dionne has stolen our divided American hearts.

After the Music Stopped” byAlan S. Blinder

– from interview to The New York Times

The positive aftermath of the 2007 financial crisis, or credit crunch, was to show the fragility and interconnected threads binding global governments and businesses together. From open-eyed descriptions of the Clinton Treasury’s approach to derivatives, to the shadowy practices of murky banking and leveraging, the tone is instructive while avoiding rants about global inequality more suited for a political piece. This book explains complex and world-affecting financial trends such as Quantitative Easing without requiring its readers to become professors of economics or history.

“The Color Purple” By AliceWalker

– Hillary Clinton for The Oprah Magazine

For a book titled after a royal color, there seems to be no hint of greatness or glamor about Celie’s life. The men or overlords who rule her from morning to night have no names; Pa and ‘Mr.” simply take what they want from her and her children, and leave very little meaning or affection behind. Early after her marriage to Mr., Celie loses her beloved sister Nettie to the wide world, but is able to rediscover some of the joys of life through a terminally ill woman (Shug) who also happens to be Mr.’s mistress. Celie and Nettie’s struggle to live as worthwhile human beings in a world that tries to reject them, and forge a future, is inspirational.

Little Women” By Louisa MayAlcott

– Hillary Clinton for The Oprah Magazine

Published in 1869 as a way to provide for her financially struggling parents, this classic American novel was lived by the Boston-born author before she put pen to paper. While Alcott initially resisted writing a novel that mirrored her own family life (she grew up with three other sisters in New England), she eventually gave in to the persistence of her editor at Roberts Brothers Publishing and finished the first half of the book in 10 weeks. The adventures of Meg, Amy, and Beth were inspired by Alcott’s real-life sisters; one married a fellow play-actor, one died of scarlet fever, and one showed her paintings at the Paris Salon. The result of their literary sister’s efforts has been made into countless plays and films, and even a ballet.

“The Clan of the Cave Bear” ByJean M. Auel

– Hillary Clinton for The Oprah Magazine

This novel could be termed ‘Ayla and the Ice Age’, since these are the primary protagonists of the story of disaster and survival. Ayla is a transplant into the Clan, and considered rather ugly due to her unusual blonde-and-blue appearance as a Cro-Magnon. Her main enemy is the dominant and upcoming leader Brun, who fears and rejects this outsider who doesn’t belong with a Neanderthal clan clinging to life in a harsh but beautiful world. This is the first novel in a five-part Earth Children series.

West with the Night” By BerylMarkham

– Hillary Clinton for The Oprah Magazine

First written in 1942, the 2010 reprint has captured the timeless appeal of man versus nature…only in this case, the plane-flying daredevil is female. Though Markham eventually spent her years as a horse trainer in Kenya, in her younger years, she became famous as the first female to fly nonstop across the Atlantic. Though she was forced to crash in Nova Scotia before reaching her goal, she did manage to fly from Britain to America in a small silver-and-turquoise plane – in the dark, by herself, against headwinds. Her courage would do credit to Ernest Hemingway’s determination to face internal fears; she met him on safari.

“Wild Swans: Three Daughters ofChina” by Jung Chang

– Hillary Clinton for The Oprah Magazine

Also mentioned in Richard Branson On Books That Will Change Your Life

Whether the reader wants an insider’s take on communism worked out in China, or the feminine perspective of a world caught between medieval and modern life, Wild Swans would be one of those good books to read in either category. The historical accounts are real, which should satisfy political science students. Personal accounts of the trials endured by the author’s grandmother (bound feet and life as a concubine), the author’s mother (living through Chairman Mao’s purges) and the author herself (from doctoring to steelwork), give a family shape to this true account.

Mahatma Gandhi: top 8 books that influenced the leader

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photo: Wikimedia

Prominent Indian political leader talks about the books that made a deep impression on him

Isis Unveiled: Secrets of theAncient Wisdom Tradition” by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

Gandhi has read a lot of books by Madame Blavatsky and was very much interested in her teaching of Theosophy

Also mentioned in Albert Einstein’s 5 Favorite Books

Along with The Infinite Way and Kahlil Gabran’s The Prophet, this book made its way into Elvis Presley’s reading list. As a Theosophist, Blavatsky promoted pantheism and greatly influenced both Mahatma Gandhi and Annie Besant. In this work, spiritualism and occult practices are the base for examining ancient Eastern and Western wisdom, rather than the traditionally reversed path of finding knowledge. Like David Hume, Blavatsky examines existing philosophical systems and ideas and finds them to be inadquate, especially in the light of the Kabbala, the Vedas, and Nostradamus prophecies.

                  “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens

– from an article on gandhi-manibhavan.org

One of Dickens’ more famous works, the comparisons and contrasts are woven together in his signature and masterful style. The story of the capital cities of two national houses, England and France, are set side-by-side with a depiction of two men who vastly differ in character and outlook: service versus self. Their unifying factor, besides their striking physical resemblance, is that they both love a French woman (Lucie Manette) who influences others to be better than they think they can be – and who is vastly superior to the bloodthirsty Defarges.

                  “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” by Edward Gibbon

– from an article on gandhi-manibhavan.org

Fans of Charles Dickens’ masterpiece Our Mutual Friend will remember this classic series as the inspiration for the peerless Mr. Boffin. Real-life history students may prize this six-volume set for its sophisticated and ironical tone, which was praised publicly by David Hume, Horace Walpole, and Adam Smith. The author spoke and wrote his way into the House of Commons, Dr. Johnson’s Literary Club, and replaced Goldsmith in the Royal Academy. Over twelve centuries, Rome ran the world and fell into decline; the sequence is instructive and illuminating.

“The Trial and Death ofSocrates” by Plato

– from an article on gandhi-manibhavan.org

These four dialogues set in the fifth century B.C. (Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo) have provided a reliable understanding of the great philosopher for many centuries. The famous court battle between Athenian jurists and thinkers against Socrates as a youth-corrupting revolutionary is good fuel for lively discussion on the nature of piety and justice, the extent of wisdom and the soul’s immortality, and the necessary wakening of the state from slumber. Besides the themes, the story of state versus individual makes for a captivating true-life tale.

Unto This Last” by John Ruskin

– from an article on gandhi-manibhavan.org

A controversial figure in his own Victorian times, Ruskin believed in the ideals of the Middle Ages and reviled the Machine Age as a destroyer of life and humanity. Both an artist and a critic, it is clear that the author’s upbringing from a wine merchant and an evangelical mother were deeply affecting in his attacks on the exploitation of the working poor. It was commonly believed that governments were meant to bolster the natural laws of supply, demand, and self-interest, while the plight of the poor was shrugged off. By contrast, Ruskin believed that wealth ought to be regulated and restrained by honor, honesty, and justice.

The Gospel in Brief” by LeoTolstoy

– from an article on gandhi-manibhavan.org

Tolstoy believed in a historical Jesus who showed the solution to the ‘problem of life’. This book emphasizes the accounts of Jesus in the gospels minus the distractions of the controversial virgin birth and miraculous walking on water. Tolstoy was no fan of the organized and dogmatic Church, so he hones in on man’s struggle against the world and the giving of love as a divine purpose, and also as a protest against his own century’s preoccupation with evolutionary meaninglessness.

The Kingdom of God is WithinYou” by Leo Tolstoy

– from an article on gandhi-manibhavan.org

Deemed a threat against the state, the book’s status as previously banned in Russia shows the impact of Jesus’ emphasis on living beyond revenge. To Tolstoy, violence of any sanctioned sort went against all moral living and thinking, as well as the requirements of Christianity to care for the poor and less fortunate souls trapped in difficult circumstances. This pacifist classic of the importance of non-resistance to evil greatly inspired a young Mahatma Gandhi, as well as encouraging American Quakers and the son of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison.

“Gulliver’s Travels” byJonathan Swift

– from an article on gandhi-manibhavan.org

Also mentioned in 7 Books To Read Before You Die According To Neil DeGrasse Tyson

The first story, by the morose Lemuel Gulliver, is the most well-known. The fierce but tiny Lilliputians are determined not to be over-awed by their captive’s size, but his use in battle against the nefarious Blefuscu people (who crack eggs the wrong way) is overshadowed by Gulliver’s social crimes against the Lilliputians’ castle. His next sailing trip to the Brobdingnag giants also ends badly, after he’s made a national curiosity. The Laputa researchers seem to have genius for experimentation but no common sense, like Gulliver, who becomes captain of a crew who mutinies against him. Gulliver then studies the wise horses (Houyhnhnms) who rule over human slaves (Yahoos), and draws conclusions about England’s colonies. Reading this novel is fun, on the cynical side.

Fidel Castro on books that he likes

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Cuban revolutionary leader about the classics that are dear to him

“For Whom the BellTolls” by Ernest Hemingway

– Sean Hemingway in the Introduction to the book “Hemingway on War”

Also mentioned in Song Of Solomon And 7 More Books That Made Obama

One of Hemingway’s most celebrated novels, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is an adventure story of almost mythic proportions. It has made more than a few book lists, from the American Library Association’s ‘most banned classics’ to the Modern Library’s top 100 novels of the 20th Century in English. The protagonist, a teacher named Robert Jordan, finds love and battle in the Spanish Civil War. Pilar, one of the most influential and passionate characters (though not the love interest), displayed the ‘Everyman’ fierce peasant spirit and embodied the name of the author’s fishing vessel. Hemingway wrote what he knew from his first-hand experience in that war, as well as World War I, in which he was injured while driving an ambulance.

                  “The Old Man and The Sea” by Ernest Hemingway

Castro named this book among his favorites during one of the official dinners

– from an article on counterpunch.org

Hemingway’s reporter roots are evidence in this five-day journey of an old man whose greatest battle at sea leads to his greatest loss. Poignant and searing, this tale of the giant marlin and the man underlines the double blade of success stories: you might lose even as you win. For those who appreciate seafaring tales but don’t want to wade through all of the endless antics of Moby Dick, this simple story took Hemingway 16 years to write, and was dedicated both to friends and in honor of critics who thought his writing days were done.

                  “Don Quijote” by Cervantes Saavedra

Castro named this book among his favorites during one of the official dinners

– from an article on counterpunch.org

Also mentioned in Albert Einstein’s 5 Favorite Books

Much reading and book-learning can drive you to try and become one of the characters in your favorite novels. This is what happens to Don Quixote, who attempts many chivalrous knightly acts while hampered by a world that has rejected knightly virtues. The Guardian rightly placed this 400-year-old classic novel among the its all-time Top 100 books, and quite rightly between these three selections: Diary of a Madman, The Divine Comedy, and Anderson’s Fairy Tales. Cervantes weaves all three elements – madness, comedy, and fantasy – in between conversations and adventures shared between Quixote and Sancho Panza, his seemingly simple-minded but loyal and outspoken aide de camp.

“The Castle” by Franz Kafka

Castro named this book among his favorites during one of the official dinners

– from an article on counterpunch.org

Also mentioned in Haruki Murakami Recommends 5 Good Books To Read

Hailed as one of the best books of Kafka by the Guardian,this novel details the unquenchable human spirit of the unnamed protagonist (K)in his monumental struggle against the mist-enveloped Castle. The overwhelmingbeauty and reality of snow and darkness are almost tangible things, along with the isolation and need for companionship experienced by K. The superstitious awe and suspicion of the villagers is reminiscent of Silas Marner, while the constant struggle with snow and darkness seem in keeping with Solzhenitsyn’sOne Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Castro named this book among his favorites during one of the official dinners

– from an article on counterpunch.org

Also mentioned in 6 Books That Everyone Must Read. Paulo Coelho Recommends, Top Books To Read According To Bill Clinton

This winner of a spot on the Oprah reading list is focused on time and family. The small town of Macondo, begun by Jose and Ursula Buendia, is affected if insulated from the rest of Colombia and the world. Marquez explores human issues, from solitude to politics and poverty, from the perspective of five generations of the founding family – while the dangers from without become the dangers from within. Written in a vivid poetic style, English professor Kiely of the New York Times called this book an overwhelming mix between idealism and practicality. This may also be an accurate description of the author’s childhood in a small Colombian coastal town, fed fantastical stories of ghosts and soldiers by his grandparents.

“Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare

Castro named this book among his favorites during one of the official dinners

– from an article on counterpunch.org

Take heart, those who tuned out impassioned high school speeches on the nature of Romeo and roses. While this tale of self-centered star-crossed teens has inspired every knock-off story from the Twilight series to Bollywood films, there is real value in the comments of side characters such as the Priest and Juliet’s incomparable Nurse. No modern drama can truly recreate a family feud or city-wide manhunt without evoking concepts from this classic novel of love and war, in which fairness doesn’t stand a chance.

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