Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Barack Obama Book Club

The odds that President Elect Obama reads this blog are slim. Slim to none. Okay, they're none. But what if he did?

Well, if he did, first I'd say good luck on that Herculean task awaiting you at the White House: make the economy hang a u-turn on a dime—actually a nickel would be better. Next, I'd tell him that he really should make the Barack Obama Book Club "a thing." It could be huge. Bigger than Oprah (...hey, I didn't mean it that way). I have no doubt that President Obama's Book Club would get people reading again. Wouldn't that be an impressive accomplishment to chalk up in the first 100 days?

Let me back up. I get a daily email newsletter about the publishing business called "PublishersLunch." While scanning it today, I ran across the phrase "Obama Book Club." The bells went off in my head. The bologna fell from my eyes. I screamed "Holy Romano cheese! That could be bigger than Taft!"

Think of the positive influence he'd have on reading in this country if he made this thing "a thing." People are inspired by him. He's cooler than Clinton. He's our first real celebricrat. So if his press secretary announced the Obama Book Club selection on the first of every month, half the dang country would stumble out the door, buy the book, and read it immediately. That book would rule the water cooler roost. Imagine a "book" in that position.

Look, nobody can deny Oprah's Book Club has gotten lots of people reading again. It has, in a big way. But Obama is bigger. Much bigger. As far as I can tell, the Obama Book Club idea started out as a fun campaign strategy to get book clubs formed to read his autobiographies and discuss them. Cool idea. But since I've heard him say on numerous occasions that parents should turn off the TV and the video games, he should encourage them to use that free time to go hit the dang library.

Now here's the selfish part of this post (it always comes back to me somehow...). He's got two young kids, right? So in addition to his monthly grownup selection, he could simultaneously recommend a book for American kids, or two (since his older daughter is more likely reading middle school books). And guess what? Maybe in May he could recommend "Bobby Bramble Loses His Brain," a hilarious and heart-warming tale of a boy whose head cracks open and his brain runs off, written by a great American named Dave Keane, who he'd invite—with his wife and three kids, of course— to the White House to spend the night in the Lincoln Bedroom—for a WHITE HOUSE SLEEPOVER!.

Hey, a guy's gotta dream.

But Mr. Obama, if you read this, seriously, I promise to make the pancakes in the morning.

And if not, would you consider posting a guest blog on Dave's Book Bits? The offer is on the table.

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