Gabriel García Márquez on meeting Bill Clinton

From Salon (via Sean Carroll of Cosmic Variance):

02marquez_apWhen we asked him what he was reading, he sighed and mentioned a book on the economic wars of the future, author and title unknown to me.

“Better to read ‘Don Quixote,'” I said to him. “Everything’s in there.” Now, the ‘Quixote’ is a book that is not read nearly as much as is claimed, although very few will admit to not having read it. With two or three quotes, Clinton showed that he knew it very well indeed. Responding, he asked us what our favorite books were. Styron said his was “Huckleberry Finn.”

I would have said “Oedipus Rex,” which has been my bed table book for the last 20 years, but I named “The Count of Monte Cristo,” mainly for reasons of technique, which I had some trouble explaining.

Clinton said his was the “Meditations of Marcus Aurelius,” and Carlos Fuentes stuck loyally to “Absalom, Absalom,” Faulkner’s stellar novel, no question, although others would choose “Light in August” for purely personal reasons. Clinton, in homage to Faulkner, got to his feet and, pacing around the table, recited from memory Benji’s monologue, the most thrilling passage, and perhaps the most hermetic, from “The Sound and the Fury.”

More here.  In the comments to Sean’s post at Cosmic Variance, a reader says the following:

Bill20clinton20vertical_240I once wrote President Clinton about the books that most influenced his growing up and as president. He wrote back and included a list of 21 books that he felt really had an impact on him. They included:

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker
Lincoln by David Donald
One Hundred Years of Solitude by G.G. Marquez
Politics as a Vocation by Max Weber
The Evolution of Civilizations by Carroll Quigley
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-1963 by Taylor Branch
Living History by Hillary Clinton
The Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
The Way of the World: From the Dawn of Civilzations to the Eve of the 21st Century by David Fromkin
The Cure at Troy: A Version of Sophocles’s Philoctetes by Seamus Heaney
King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Herois in Colonial Africa by Adam Hochschild
The Imitation of Christ by Thomas Kempis
Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics by Reinhold Niebuhr
Home to Catalonia by George Orwell
The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron
You Can’t Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe
Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny by Robert Wright
The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats by W.B. Yeats

Thanks for sharing this list, Cameron!