Thirteen Books

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama, Memoir, 1995: 9.0

When the year started, I set a goal of reading 26 books this year. As of last night, I'm at the midway point. With 18 days remaining in the year, I am fairly certain that I won't meet my goal.

Nevertheless, I have read some great books this year. And the one I finished last night may have been the most important. Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father was published in 1995, one year before he was elected to the Illinois State Senate. This is a fantastic read on many fronts, and provides a glimpse into Obama's life and heritage, but most importantly, his intellectual curiosity.

Over the course of 400+ pages, Obama's interest in his family both present and past, his neighbors, those facing hardships, the political climate and just about every aspect of daily life from the ground up is somewhat astounding. He doesn't seek out this understanding at a manic or scattered pace, and never seems to be exploring different areas of life in an attempt to gain advantage. Just about everything seems driven by a genuine interest in understanding and doing a small part to assist in making things better.

If this memoir is an indication of the man, then we can rest assured that we have elected a man of monumental character. Granted, there remain parts of Obama that we've yet to see, and his ability to preside over this country is still a wide open question. But as I put this book down, I had an overriding feeling that despite all the questions and uncertainties, unlike the past two elections, we have elected a good man. And this represents his first promise of change.