President Obama and Marilynne Robinson

Last year President Obama had an interesting conversation with writer Marilynne Robinson that was published in the New York Review of Books (Part 1, Part 2)

I’ve learned I think I’ve learned from novels. It has to do with empathy. It has to do with being comfortable with the notion that the world is complicated and full of grays, but there’s still truth there to be found, and that you have to strive for that and work for that. And the notion that it’s possible to connect with some[one] else even though they’re very different from you.

– President Barack Obama

Obligatory Reading

I’m stealing this Jorge Luis Borges quote from Austin Kleon because it aligns with the way my reading has evolved over the years—I no longer feel guilty putting down books that I don’t have a connection with.

I believe that the phrase ‘obligatory reading’ is a contradiction in terms; reading should not be obligatory… If a book bores you, leave it; don’t read it because it is famous, don’t read it because it is modern, don’t read a book because it is old…. If a book is tedious to you, don’t read it; that book was not written for you. Reading should be a form of happiness, so I would advise all possible readers of my last will and testament—which I do not plan to write—I would advise them to read a lot, and not to get intimidated by writer’s reputations, to continue to look for personal happiness, personal enjoyment. It is the only way to read.