My “Must Read” Book List for the Presidential Election Season

Today the Daily Beast is allowing me to force my tastes on the masses. I’ve written an annotated list of my top ten books for the Presidential election season. The list includes three of my favorite authors – Norman Mailer, David Foster Wallace, and Gore Vidal, who I recently eulogized for PopMatters.

One of the reasons I enjoy writing about pop culture and literature is that it enables me to introduce unpopular political or philosophical ideas into mainstream discussion.

The overarching theme of my Daily Beast article, and the dominant theme of all the books I’ve chosen for inclusion, is that Presidential politics is a ghastly and fraudulent spectacle of stagecraft in which personality dramas, public relations, and image branding silence and defeat discussion of the issues most important to the lives of the American people. It is often difficult to enter such an unforgiving critique into political debate, but with the usher of pop culture and/or literature, it can happen.

The main reason I’ve selected all of the books on the list, however, is that they are valuable and insightful works of art or research that elevate their respective genres to new standards of excellence. Everyone, regardless of ideology or level of political passion, could benefit from reading great books.