Revealed: our federal politicians’ favourite books
We all know the Prime Minister writes books but does he read them? We are left wondering because the author of Jasper and Abby and the Great Australia Day Kerfuffle did not take part in a landmark survey of federal politicians’ reading habits, to be published this Wednesday in The Australian Literary Review.
Tony Abbott was not so shy, revealing his favourite novel to be J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings.
Julia Gillard played it safe with Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet, Joe Hockey showed his SNAG side with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Peter Garrett was immersed in a Bunnings catalogue (he also mentioned March, the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by the one-time Fairfax reporter Geraldine Brooks).
The survey was conducted by ANU academic Andrew Leigh and Australian businessman Macgregor Duncan, who got the idea while drinking beers in a New York bar during the US presidential campaign. Their reasoning, though, was sober enough: is it important, they wondered, for our political leaders to be readers? Or can non-readers become great leaders?
In search of answers they contacted every federal MP and asked them to name their all-time favourite works of fiction and non-fiction, and also the most recent books they had read.
The results throw up some surprises, not least in the books that unite MPs from opposite sides of the fence. It’s a fair bet, for example, that Leo Tolstoy never thought he’d be the one to get Lindsay Tanner and Nick Minchin to agree on something.
Full details will be in the ALR on Wednesday but in the meantime you can read more on the ALR blog here.
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