What to read while waiting to vote

The Washington Post has a blog today entitled "Long Wait at the Polls? Bring a Book." It's a good idea and some of their suggestions are worth repeating.

If you want a political classic, of course, you can't miss with "All the King's Men" by Robert Penn Warren. (It also falls into the category of "If you haven't read this yet, you really should someday.")

They also suggest more current political reading, like "Angler," Barton Gellman's biography of Dick Cheney, and of course candidate bios and writings like Barack Obama's "Audacity of Hope" and John McCain's "Faith of my Fathers." (Although, really, I would suggest, the time to have read these was several months ago....)

And of course they also point readers to Amazon's Election 2008 which will give you your fill (and then some) of red titles, blue titles, and (for the chronically undecided) purple titles.

But I have a few other titles to recommend and you won't find any of them on the Election 2008 site.

One is a quiet gem of a novel from earlier this year that you might have missed, "America, America" by Ethan Canin. It tells the story of an earlier era in America, a time when we still considered politicians to be our heroes. It will make you nostalgic and perhaps a little sad – but it will also remind you why the wait on the polling line is worth it.

You could also try, if you haven't been there yet, David McCullough's "1776." Not only will it remind you why voting day matters, but it will also make you feel like a total wimp for complaining about the wait at all.

"This I Believe" and "This I Believe II," both sets of essays collected by National Public Radio's Jay Allison are not only great reads but also reminders that America is much more than the sum of its politicians. If you want to be reminded of the ordinary greatness and courage of the people on that line with you, this is your book.

Then there's "Integrity," a recent memoir by Egil "Bud" Krogh. Those of us old enough to remember Watergate of course know that name. Krogh participated in some of Richard Nixon's political high jinx and went to jail to pay the price.

His memoir, however, is aptly titled. Integrity shines throughout as he fully acknowledges his wrongs and writes an honest book that may help prevent some others from making similar mistakes. In addition to everything else, it's a good read.

Then, if want something that is sweet, absorbing, and full of meaning, you might try a children's book. If you haven't yet read "Elijah Buxton" by Christopher Paul Curtis (or read it to your children), you should.

This historical novel for younger readers tells a tale of the lives of freed slaves. First of all, it's a beautiful read and will make your time on line fly away.

But in addition, it will also remind you that, whether Obama wins or loses, today is an historic day and also the mark of the distance this country has traveled in the right direction. And that's something that should make the wait on line a little easier to bear.

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