Six months ago, Megyn Kelly asked Trump what his favorite book was, besides The Art of the Deal (which he didn’t even write). He said All Quiet on the Western Front, suggesting that he had not read a novel since he was 11. Kelly then asked him if he reads at all and Trump said this: “I read passages, I read areas, chapters, I don’t have the time. When was the last time I watched a baseball game? I’m watching you all the time.” There could be only one conclusion: Trump doesn’t read books.
But in a 2005 op-ed, unearthed by The Washington Post’s Carlos Lozada, in which he complains about a book review, Trump makes it sound like he is [Bob Dylan voice] very well read:
Most writers want to be successful. Some writers even want to be good writers. I’ve read John Updike, I’ve read Orhan Pamuk, I’ve read Philip Roth. When Mark Singer enters their league, maybe I’ll read one of his books. But it will be a long time—he was not born with great writing ability. Until then, maybe he should concentrate on finding his own “lonely component” and then try to develop himself into a world-class writer, as futile as that may be, instead of having to write about remarkable people who are clearly outside of his realm.
Trump clearly wrote (or more likely dictated) parts of this letter to the editor. “I have no doubt that Singer’s and MacGregor’s books will do badly—they just don’t have what it takes,” is very much in his register. The paragraph quoted above, however, is not. And if Trump really was such a fan of Updike and Pamuk and Roth, he might not have told Kelly his favorite book was All Quiet on the Western Front, because he would have had a lot of grown-up books to choose from. But I could be wrong. I’ve reached out to Trump to ask about his favorite novels by Updike, Pamuk, and Roth.