In contrast to his reputation, George W. Bush was a prolific behind-the-scenes reader. Despite the fact that he was regularly derided as incurious and unread, Bush has long read a great many books. Karl Rove wrote in 2008, “In the 35 years I’ve known George W. Bush, he’s always had a book nearby.”
Bush read 186 books between 2006 and 2008, mainly history and biography. By way of comparison, the typical American reads four books annually and 27 percent of Americans report reading no books over the course of a year. Bush, in contrast, read fourteen biographies of Lincoln alone while in the White House. This was in addition to his annual reading of the entire Bible, along with a daily devotional. In another surprise, Bush read both liberal and conservative authors without appearing to discriminate. Clinton and Obama, by contrast, read almost exclusively liberal authors, while Reagan favored conservatives.