Which political books should Romney and Obama read?

Woman in bookstore
In this 2008 file photo, Barbara Carpenter flips through a copy of former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's memoir "What Happened" that is on display at Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

As we gear up for the start of political convention season next week, we take a look at the world of political books. What books should the presidential candidates be reading to prepare for leadership? What books are more relevant today than ever before?

Lissa Muscatine, co-owner of Washington, D.C. bookstore Politics and Prose, joined The Daily Circuit Wednesday to discuss the best political books. J. Peder Zane, journalism and mass communication chair at St. Augustine's University in Raleigh, N.C., also joined the discussion.


'Predictably Irrational' by Dan Ariely

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!

Our guest, J. Peder Zane, thinks a book about behavioral psychology would be a good read for this political season. He wants people to think about how we process the information that campaigns and the news throw at us. Zane also says it is especially important to think about how we get trapped into our own worldview and stop being able to put ourselves into the shoes of others.

'Utopia' by Thomas More

A caller, Jake, recommended it and says it's a "short, easy novel that presents a society that works perfectly" by incorporating conservative and liberal ideologies. Neither of our guests nor Kerri had read it. Maybe you've missed this 1516 classic, too.

'A Man without a Country' by Kurt Vonnegut

Jordan, a caller, said this short, funny collection of essays is perfect for this election season. Our political climate could use some dispassion and humor. Kerri adds that Vonnegut's humor is so sharp that you get a history lesson while being thoroughly entertained.

'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood

The 1985 dystopian novel was recommended by a few different people. "In light of those who are 'confused' about legitimate rape," Loren said the book will make you think about "control and freedom" and ask "who is in charge?"

'God's Long Summer' by Charles Marsh

Kirsten wrote on our blog that "it examines the links between the Christian faith and theological assumptions of five different leaders in the civil rights and anti-civil rights movements in 1964, and how those assumptions interacted with the political process of change then. It raises important questions regarding how civil rights influences what is happening now."

'A Hologram for the King' by Dave Eggers

Guest Lissa Muscatine says that when you start this book, you may not expect much. A "schleppy character" gets stranded in a tent in a desert awaiting the arrival of dignitary that he must woo over. Even if it seems scattered, stick with it she says: "you get to the end and it all comes together."

'Honey Bee Democracy' by Thomas D. Seeley

"It is an intriguing study of how a swarm of bees collectively make the life or death decision of locating a new hive," Jan wrote on our blog. "He also relates this to the human democratic process."

Read the full list of recommendations on our blog.