As reported in The Washington Post, President Barack Obama gave us all a piece of his mind. If we want to know a person well then understand the books they have read. We can't say for sure if these books are the whole picture on the big man but if they were the first that sprang to mind or the ones that made it past his ferocious mental filter, then we can be sure they are relevant.
Of course, for those who want to know more about him, we can read A Promised Land, which Barack Obama has just released. However to get a real sense of the network of thinking that goes into the making of such a person, we can go behind the curtain.
These five essential reads clearly touch every base before building a global picture. Let's have a look at the titles and what they could mean.
“Song of Solomon,” by Toni Morrison
This American classic from 1977 probably came into Obama's life as a young man. It talks about the complex family dynamic within an inherently racist America. The story perhaps builds a picture of the problem, showing the future President an image of his generation's job. When feeling the energy of a story that mirrors the energy of the society of the day it can help reinforce our perceptions of self and place in the world. The struggles talked about in this book perhaps gave Barack Obama the confidence and initiative to face his own generation's strife head on.
“The Fire Next Time,” by James Baldwin
Another gem of justice and struggle, The Fire Next Time began life as a letter. This impassioned plea for action on so many levels as yet unreached sets a tone of focus and determination. The influential piece helps to define the consciousness of the equal rights movement as a whole including the plight of African Americans.
“On the Road,” by Jack Kerouac
This book about freedom in the wide open expanse of America offers another view. Sure, the same social structure is present and all the problems that go with it, but the story invites the reader to travel the country with the story as the hero finds work and opportunity. A fresh-out-of-jail nobody builds his own adventure with a mix of bravery, tomfoolery, and seized opportunity. The draws of old ways present alongside new thinking which gives the impetus to travel an extra dimension.
“Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth,” by Mohandas K. Gandhi
Like anyone Gandhi had to come of age. There was a time in his life when his ideas were not formed and the direction of his life so far unchosen. This autobiography of the great leader and quiet revolutionary no-doubt helped Obama to dissect his own reality for himself. This framework of truth discovery in a world of injustice and bias that we are brought up to exist within helps us to identify our own journey and what changes we feel magnetised to bring about.
This classic needs little introduction. The collected works of Shakespeare are of course a must have addition. What can we learn from this type of book? Shakespeare seems to know how the metaphysical elements of life that exist within our subconscious play a directing role in the physical and actual reality. The tragedies in particular draw attention to the frailty of the human heart and mind with a serious flawed nature that can bring about ruin. These books provide a warning perhaps, admitting that we as people are prone to horrible events and outcomes. When considering risk, we have to consider catastrophe. Luckily, for Barack Obama, things turned out okay.
Have you read any of these books? Let us know what you thought of them. What other books would you recommend for any potential presidents out there?
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