In the second part of his interview with President Trump that aired on Thursday night, Fox News’s Tucker Carlson sought to give us a picture of the man we don’t see, the private Trump who maybe explores the White House at night in a bathrobe.
“What do you do at the end of the day?” Carlson asked. “What do you read? What do you watch?”
“Well, you know, I love to read,” Trump replied. “Actually, I’m looking at a book, I’m reading a book, I’m trying to get started. Every time I do about a half a page, I get a phone call that there’s some emergency, this or that. But we’re going to see the home of Andrew Jackson today in Tennessee, and I’m reading a book on Andrew Jackson.”
Trump continued, saying, “I love to read. I don’t get to read very much, Tucker, because I’m working very hard on lots of different things, including getting costs down. The costs of our country are out of control.”
It’s been awhile since he has read a lot, apparently. In his famous makeup interview with Megyn Kelly in May, he offered the same excuse.
“I just — I don’t have the time,” he told her. “You know, when was the last time I watched a baseball game? I’m watching you all the time, okay?”
Not that it was just watching her that was keeping him from his reading, he said; he was also watching Bill O’Reilly, Greta van Susteren and Sean Hannity.
“I don’t have the time,” he reiterated. “I would love to sit down and read a book, but I just don’t have the time anymore.”
Once upon a time, he had a lot of time to read books. So much time, in fact, that he was once able to list off 20 books he enjoyed on the subject of China alone. Mind you, this was according to a report from the Chinese state news agency, which perhaps had a motivation for suggesting that Trump could summon Brother Yun’s “The Heavenly Man” at the drop of a hat.
But his inability to devote time to reading hasn’t stopped Trump from recommending books for people to read. Consider what follows a presidentially approved reading list.
1. The Bible. Trump regularly touted the Bible as his favorite book on the campaign trail. At times, he said it was even better than his other favorite book, “Trump: The Art of the Deal.”
2. “Trump: The Art of the Deal,” by Donald Trump. As above.
3. “Trump: Surviving at the Top,” by Donald Trump. Recommended in an interview with “Extra” in November. Trump included this 1990 book alongside “The Art of the Deal.”
4. “Clinton Cash,” by Peter Schweizer. Recommended in a speech in New York in June.
5. “Unlikeable: The Problem with Hillary,” by Edward Klein. Recommended on Twitter in May.
6. “The Field of Fight,” by Michael Flynn. Recommended on Twitter in July. Flynn served briefly as Trump’s national security adviser before resigning after it was revealed that he’d lied about meetings with the Russian ambassador.
7. “The Conservative Case for Trump,” by Phyllis Schlafly. Recommended on Twitter in September. Trump’s recommendation came shortly after Schlafly’s death. He suggested that people buy the book “as a tribute” to her.
8. “Green Card Warrior,” by Nick Adams. Recommended on Twitter two weeks ago. Trump referred to the book, which looks at immigration policy, as a “must read.” Our book reviewer read it, and was not impressed, calling it a “must groan.”
9. “Wake Up America,” by Fox News’s Eric Bolling. Recommended on Twitter in June. Bolling has been a consistent defender of Trump on Fox.
10. “Adios, America! The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country into a Third World Hellhole,” by Ann Coulter. Recommended on Twitter in May 2015. Coulter is a well-known and inflammatory conservative pundit.
11. “In Trump We Trust,” by Ann Coulter. Recommended on Twitter in August.
12. “Unprecedented,” by the staff at CNN. Recommended on Twitter (sort of) in January. Trump said he hoped the book about his campaign did well — but complained about the photo on the cover.
13. “Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800,” by John Ferling. Mentioned during an interview in January. While showing ABC’s David Muir the Oval Office, Trump picked the book off his desk, saying it had been given to him by one of his competitors on the campaign trail.
This was not a recommendation, however. Trump brought it up to Sean Hannity and in an interview with the media outlet Axios, too. When Axios asked if it was worth reading, Trump replied, “I wouldn’t.”
Trump did once recommend a book that wasn’t either by him or somehow rolled into his politics and his campaign:
14. “All Quiet on the Western Front,” by Erich Maria Remarque. Recommended in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter in June. Trump referred to the novel as “one of the greatest books of all time.”
So if you want a Trump-recommended read that isn’t about politics, there you go. That or the Bible.