If you need any more proof that books can save lives, look no further than President Barack Obama! When asked how he survived the ups and downs of being the President of the United States, Obama said books have had an "indispensable role" during his time in office.
The White House may seem like a grand structure of unity and strength from the outside, but some of the most important decisions in our country's history take place behind those walls. Ours is "a noisy era of information overload, extreme partisanship, and knee-jerk reactions" that President Obama has handled with grace and seeming ease. But he says he cannot take all the credit. Books help him “slow down and get perspective” at times when situations appear crazier than anything he has dealt with before.
Combined with the "ability to get in somebody else’s shoes," these two things have really helped President Obama keep his cool while holding the office of one of the highest officials in the country.
"Whether they’ve made me a better president I can’t say," Obama said. "But what I can say is that they have allowed me to sort of maintain my balance during the course of eight years, because this is a place that comes at you hard and fast and doesn’t let up.”
Writers that gave him a "sense of solidarity" included Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela. President Obama admitted that the Oval Office and its duties "can be very isolating.” Being able to "hop across history" and read about different experiences has been useful for the president, who has walked from his home office to the Lincoln bedroom to read "a handwritten copy of the Gettysburg Address."
Even William Shakespeare played a role in shaping President Obama's time in office! The tragedies, in particular, he said, have been “foundational for me in understanding how certain patterns repeat themselves and play themselves out between human beings.”
Reading has been an important part of our president's life and will continue to serve him and his family well when they leave the White House. Reading has allowed President Obama "to get out of my own head" and to "imagine what’s going on in the lives of people” across the United States.
Writing out his thoughts -- in diaries, short stories, poems -- also allowed him to sort through the different parts of his life. Family, race, class, jobs: they are all part of who he is and why the American people elected him to office in the first place.
One last question, Mr. President: can we follow you on Goodreads?