Hillary Clinton's Favorite Books From Years Past Can Still Tell Us A Lot About Her — Or At Least Her Reading Habits
Books can tell you a lot about a person — and a lot about a presidential candidate. And if Hillary Clinton's list of favorite books from 2000, which has now resurfaced during her current presidential run, is any indication, she certainly has some excellent literary taste. In fact, if elected, it might be just as much fun to keep track of her reading material as it's been keeping track of Barack Obama's.
Hillary Clinton is no stranger in the books world. She's authored several books, and has been the subject of many more during her several decades in the national spotlight. But it seems she also has a soft spot for literature. In 2000, she wrote a piece for O Magazine about her favorite books, and it's full of some great titles — though she added that she'd never be able to narrow it down to just one. "Choosing a favorite book was an impossible assignment," she writes. "There's simply no way to take a lifetime of reading great books and single out a handful as the most influential in my life."
Instead, Clinton gives a list of favorite titles, and it's striking how many are written by female authors. In fact, of the titles she lists, only one, Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen, is written by a man. From classics like Little Women to modern classics like The Joy Luck Club , Clinton's tastes seem to run towards books by women — though it could be she merely wanted to highlight such books in a feature for a women's magazine.
Some of Clinton's selections are more surprising than others. Books like The Color Purple by Alice Walker should be on everyone's reading list, and several books such as Wild Swans by Jeung Chang and Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel, were particularly popular in the 1990s, even if they aren't as widely read anymore. But West with the Night , the 1942 memoir of aviation pioneer Beryl Markham is more surprising, given that the book has never been a particularly popular or famous.
In other words, Clinton seems to be quite widely read, embracing books from multiple eras and written in multiple styles and by women from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds.
And it seems that in the years since, Clinton's reading habits have remained more or less consistent in that regard. In more recent interviews, Clinton has listed her favorite authors as Laura Hillenbrand, Walter Isaacson, Barbara Kingsolver, John le Carre, John Grisham, Hillary Mantel, Toni Morrison, Anna Quindlen, and Alice Walker. And she's mentioned that she's also a fan of people like Alice Munroe and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Her nightstand in 2014 included contemporary novels like The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, classics like Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou, and even a few books by politicians on the other side of the aisle.
Overall, it seems that Clinton has a fondness for books by women, and from what we can tell of her tastes, she reads broadly — though she does seem to largely stick to literary fiction and nonfiction.
So this time next year will we be keeping track of her book purchases the same way we do President Obama's? Only time will tell.