Judy Woodruff's Late-Summer Reading List

One of Washington's most recognizable journalists, Judy Woodruff has been covering politics for more than 35 years at CNN, NBC and PBS. Lately, she is a senior correspondent for "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer."

Asked recently to put together a reading list for young people who want to stay sharp, Woodruff came up with an intriguing selection across the spectrum from politics to economics to classic fiction to thrillers.

Here are her picks, with her comments:

"The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election" by Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson

I'm a political junkie, and this book is in the genre of the best presidential campaign look-backs. Balz and Johnson pull you inside the conversations, the memos, and the thinking that helped determine the outcome. The Obama team's discipline; the Clinton team's confidence; and McCain's choice of Palin are just some of the highlights.

"A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens
"The Last of the Mohicans" by James Fenimore Cooper
"Moby Dick" by Herman Melville

These are just a few of the books most of us read growing up that are worth returning to. It's wonderful to be able to re-read them as adults; to get lost in the stories, to see things we didn't notice when we were younger; to appreciate the writers' technique.

"The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow.

An inspirational book based on the lecture Pausch gave as he was dying of cancer. But it is living he focused on, with humor - how he turned his childhood hopes and dreams into reality; how he lived his life. It's about overcoming obstacles, staying focused, making the most of the time you're given - the sort of humbling advice all of us might benefit from.

"Fool's Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe" by Gillian Tett.

The title says it all. Gillian Tett is a gifted columnist and editor for the Financial Times and this book is for all of us who are still trying to figure out what led to the financial meltdown of 2008 - who made mistakes - why - and why no one stepped in to prevent the resulting disaster. Her reporting skills and clear-eyed observations make it worthwhile.

"The Defector" by Daniel Silva.

A confession: Dan Silva is a former colleague of mine at CNN so I'm biased. He's a one-time foreign correspondent-turned-fiction writer who has created one best selling thriller after another. All the clichés apply: page turner, can't put it down. In this case, they're true. I don't normally like thrillers but this is escapism at its finest, rooted in real-time international tensions.

By Steven E. Levingston |  August 11, 2009; 5:30 AM ET
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Judy’s list is wonderful. Of course, being a novelist, I’m partial to Dickens, Melville and Fenimore Cooper.

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done…” A line that people today could benefit from taking to practice and to heart. At sixteen, Dickens showed me the noble of noble, and I see it even more now, decades later.

Thanks for posting this!


Posted by: Sarah_McCoy | August 12, 2009 4:33 PM

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