Your must-read holiday book list from members of Congress

Once I flew on Air Force One and sat in Oval Office meetings. Now I find myself crawling around a dark basement loading shelves and looking for utility hookups. I’ve opened a small bookshop in my hometown. It’s an apt place for a store named Theodore’s: Theodore Roosevelt used to live up the road, where he consumed books voraciously. (There are 7,000 volumes preserved on the shelves of the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site.) 

So, in the spirit of Roosevelt, I asked prominent pols on both sides of the aisle what books they would recommend as holiday gifts. The results are refreshingly bipartisan, if a tad wonky. 

Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesClyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' Inflation offers steep hike for Biden House Democratic conference postponed due to COVID-19 MORE (D-N.Y.): Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Manchin says no; White House fires back House Democrats find drug companies 'unjustified' in price hikes Your must-read holiday book list from members of Congress MORE’s book “We’re Better Than This.” Jeffries calls it “a must read for all who care about America’s march toward a more perfect union.”


Former Speaker Newt GingrichNewton (Newt) Leroy GingrichMORE (R-Ga.): “Plague Year: America in the Time of Covid” and “Premonition: A Pandemic Story.” He calls the books “Two well-written reflections on the failure of our public health system and the unnecessary loss of life from a mismanaged response to Covid.”

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharApple warns antitrust legislation could expose Americans to malware Big Tech critics launch new project Overnight Defense & National Security — Texas hostage situation rattles nation MORE (D-Minn.): "An Ugly Truth." “If you want to understand the power Facebook wields over our society and why we need clear rules of the road for big tech companies, read this book.”

Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauroRosa DeLauroNegotiators report progress toward 2022 spending deal Republicans must join us to give Capitol Police funding certainty  Democrats return with lengthy to-do list MORE (D-Conn.): “Simply put, Frances Perkins is my role model. And I would encourage everyone to read Kirstin Downey’s inspiring biography, titled ‘The Woman Behind The New Deal,’ which illuminates Frances Perkins’ career.”

Rep. Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeUS budget deficit narrows sharply GOP lawmaker opens door to funding bill to combat omicron Stand-alone reconciliation must end MORE (R-Okla.): “The First Man of Rome.” “A compelling portrait of the personalities and politics that shaped the last days of the Roman Republic and the establishment of the Roman Empire by one of the greatest authors of our era.”

Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.): “Bus Ride to Justice.” “The book is written by [Rosa] Parks’ lawyer Fred Gray who at 90 is a living legend as a leading civil rights lawyer of our times having represented Parks, MLK and even John LewisJohn LewisSenate Democrats eye talking filibuster NAACP president presses senators on voting rights: 'You will decide who defines America' Schumer tees up showdown on voting rights, filibuster MORE and the 600 protesters who dared to March for Justice in Selma. An inspiring read from a first-hand participant to history who I just nominated to President BidenJoe BidenMadame Tussauds unveils new Biden and Harris figures US raises concerns about Russian troop movements to Belarus Putin tests a model for invading Ukraine, outwitting Biden's diplomats MORE as deserving of a Presidential Medal of Freedom.”


Rep. Billy LongWilliam (Billy) H. LongThe 10 races that will decide the Senate majority Members of Congress not running for reelection in 2022 Republicans fret over Trump's influence in Missouri Senate race MORE (R-Mo.): “Victoria’s Voice: Our Daughter’s Dying Wish To Share Her Diary and Save Lives.” “It should be on everyone's reading list with Opioid and Fentanyl deaths in the U.S. recently surpassing 100,000 annually. Featuring the diary of Victoria 'Rikki' Siegel who's dying wish at 18 years old was to share her diary and save lives from drugs from beyond the grave.”

Rep. French HillJames (French) French HillYour must-read holiday book list from members of Congress How expanded credit data can help tackle inequities Fighting Biden's dangerous reshaping of the Federal Reserve MORE (R-Ark): “Three Days At Camp David: How a Secret Meeting in 1971 Transformed the Global Economy.” “With America once again facing rapid inflation and simultaneously very expansive monetary and fiscal policies, Jeff Garten’s intimate story of President Nixon’s abandonment of the gold standard and Bretton Woods brings home the economic risks of today’s policy debates.”

Rep. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerLobbying world Congress to take up marijuana reform this spring Your must-read holiday book list from members of Congress MORE (D-Ore.): “Katrina: A History.” “Details all of the horrendous mistakes made by the Corps of Engineers and politicians in Louisiana to set the stage for the catastrophe that was Katrina.”

Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanJD Vance raises more than million in second fundraising quarter for Ohio Senate bid Republicans must join us to give Capitol Police funding certainty  On The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood MORE (D-Ohio): “The 33 Strategies of War.” “Our country is in the midst of a great power competition with China. It is the defining relation of our time. It is imperative for us to study and understand what approaches have worked and not worked throughout history. This book is our bible.”

Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.): “High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out.” “A must read for anyone concerned about the intractable conflicts that we are pulled into - and eager to figure out how we get out… It profiles a city council in California, a synagogue in New York, former gang leaders in Illinois, and a few others to illuminate strategies for overcoming high conflict.”  


Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.): “The Great Upheaval.” “We’ve all heard of the American, French and Russian revolutions but this book is a deep dive into what leaders of those nations were dealing with during and after the revolutions.”

As for me, as a new retailer, I’m fascinated by “Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping.” It studies the behavior of consumer, providing vital takeaways for anyone trying to sell a candidacy. 

Happy reading! 

Steve Israel represented New York in the U.S. House of Representatives over eight terms and was chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2011 to 2015. He is now the director of the Institute of Politics and Global Affairs at Cornell University. Follow him on Twitter @RepSteveIsrael.