Getting a Read on Presidential Candidates

And then there were three ....

Mitt Romney's surprisingly early announcement that he was bowing out last week left John McCain as the Republican candidate for president. Mike Huckabee didn't get the memo. I think it's because he's waiting for the Lord himself to deliver the message.

That leaves McCain, Obama and Clinton.

The good news for me is that I'd be happy with any of the choices. As a lifelong Democrat, I'd obviously rather see one of the latter two. But I have a ton of respect for McCain. And, hey, he actually sent me a signed photo with a birthday wish, part of my wife's 40th birthday present.

By now, you know where all the candidates stand on the issues. But where do they stand on literature. I'm talking books. Basically, what do they read? Well, last summer AP asked all the candidates to name the last book of fiction they read. There were still more than a dozen back then. (Where did you go Mike Gravel?)

These are the books named by the remaining three candidates. Can you match the book to the candidate?

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. (Yes, well all know this is not fiction, but apparently the candidate doesn't know it).
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway.

Good luck. If you want to cheat, or check out your guesses, then click to the posting on PhiloBiblos from last year. It lists all the then-candidates and their choices. No surprise that the most-mentioned author on the list is John Grisham. And it wasn't a surprise to me that Dennis Kucinich is the most avid reader of the bunch.

Thanks for all the fish, and the book recommendations
Speaking of Grisham, his Playing for Pizza is one of the several books that have been recommended to me over the last couple weeks. One of the neat things about this blog it has led to several conversations -- online and offline -- about books. As you can tell from the books I've read over the last year or so, I'm wide open to trying anything out. Thanks to GepDawg for suggesting Under the Banner of Heaven. I've put a hold on it at the library. Meanwhile, it's back to The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, who just happens to support Barak Obama.

On the same Michael Chabon fan site, I found this very exciting news. The Coen Brothers are considering writing the adaptation to Chabon's last book The Yiddish Policeman's Union. Wow, Yiddish was one of my favorite books read last year as was No Country for Old Men, the Coens' last movie. (See the whole Distractions Favorite Books (Read) in 07 list).

Ever wonder who those top 10 reviewers on Amazon are? Ladies and gentlemen, meet Grady Harp, who has reviewed more than 3,500 books, movies and CDs for the giant online seller. In fact, he probably reviewed two books while you were reading this (way too) long blog post.

You might not have read 3,500 books, but you surely know some of the classic first lines of famous books. Or do you? Test your literary knowledge at this site.

What I'm thankful for ...
OK, so why the big focus on politics AND books this week? Because this is a huge week in the Distractions' household. If you've followed my blog at all, you know my wife's young adult novel As If Being 12¾ Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother is Running for President! hits the stores officially today (if you're reading this on Tuesday, Feb. 12). Check out her Web site or her blog Wild About Words, which has been active in advance of the launch date.

Here's a description of the book from the School Library Journal.

Vanessa Rothrock is much like any girl her age. She studies hard for spelling bees, loves her best friend, hates P.E., frets about her flat chest, and has a crush on the most popular boy in school. In other ways, she is very unusual. Vanessa has a bodyguard and fan mail. And her mom has little time for her because she is the governor of Florida, running for president. Likewise, this book is much like others for this audience. It is written in friendly first person and teaches nice lessons about growing up. When Vanessa and the candidate receive death threats, the girl's concern for her mother's safety is tender and adds an exciting mystery and climax to an already compelling story. Readers learn about the political process and motivations of people who work in this milieu despite the considerable risks and sacrifices. Information is woven seamlessly into the narrative. Vanessa's mother runs on a Democratic ticket, and the book is clear about the issues that motivate her, particularly gun control.Amelia Jenkins, Juneau Public Library.

So this week I'm thankful for all the success that I know my wife is going to have with this book and the rest of her career. She has the talent. And she works really hard. She deserves all the success she gets.

So buy the book, be a Grady Harp and write a (positive) review.