Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A bully reader: TR's favorite books.

The following is information I've gleaned on some of the favorite books of Theodore Roosevelt from various sources (according to his autobiography [18], he was not allowed to read dime novels when he was a child, which apparently did not thwart him from obtaining a few. He was forbidden to read Ouida's Under Two Flags but did so anyway):
  • Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, Little Men, and An Old-Fashioned Girl (according to TR's autobiography)
  • Dante's Divine Comedy (according to J. A. Zahm—see below for source)
  • Inazo Nitobe, Bushido (according to Donald Keene's Emperor of Japan)
  • William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair (according to TR's autobiography)
  • H. G. Wells, The Time Machine (reported by Wells after his 1906 White House visit)
What TR didn't like to read:
  • Hamlet
  • Jane Austen
Roosevelt's concentration of mind when reading was quite as remarkable as his ability to read at any and all times and under the most unfavorable circumstances without inconvenience or annoyance. When interested in a book, he seemed to be absolutely dead, for the time being, to all the rest of the world. Noise did not affect him in the least. He could sit in the midst of a talking, shouting crowd and be totally oblivious of and insensible to everything but the contents of the volume in his hands.
— J. A. Zahm, C.S.C., "Theodore Roosevelt as a Hunter-Naturalist,"
The Outlook 121 (March 1919): 435
About the image: TR reads, ca. 1904. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

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