What are you reading?

Game Change, by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. It’s about the last presidential election. I normally avoid politics, but my fiancée bought it, and she said I had to read it. I didn’t want to, but once I started getting into it…now I have only ten pages left. This was an historic election; we were either going to have our first woman president or our first black president.”

What do you like about it?

“It really dives into the internal workings of McCain’s team and Obama’s team, and before that, all the primaries, to show the internal chaos that goes on during an election. It’s like an insider story, but not smarmy or gossipy. It’s just matter-of-fact about what they were thinking inside each campaign — the major concerns, the major gaffes.”

What was McCain’s major gaffe?

“I think picking Sarah Palin for a vice-presidential candidate was an unusual choice. He maintained grace with respect to her, but obviously she struggled with being a candidate. That was a big step for her.”

What about Hillary Clinton?

“I think she had a couple of strategic mistakes. The first was that she didn’t involve Bill enough. He was a huge asset for her. She could have involved him more and still stood on her own. The other thing was that I think she felt entitled among Democrats, given the history of everything the Clintons had done for everybody — especially minorities in the party. Then all of a sudden, it was like Obama was the favorite son and they felt like outsiders, and you could tell there was this anger and jealousy. I think it was a mistake to succumb to that. And Hillary was unable to really connect with women. She cared deeply, but many people perceived her as just kind of cold and icy. Such a contrast to Bill, who is so empathetic and has such a great connectedness to people.”

Do you have a favorite player in the story?

“Obama is really the most fascinating. His vision, his ability to kind of stay above it all and maintain his strategic direction through the whole campaign. Everybody else was kind of disorganized.”

What book has been most life-changing for you?

“I read Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha every four or five years. It just grounds me, puts things in perspective from a religious and philosophical point of view. It’s about a man’s journey through life, figuring out what’s important. He starts out seeking in different religions to find the answer — he’s always looking for the answer. I think that’s part of it — at the end, he realizes that the journey is the answer.”

Who is your favorite author?

“My dad and I read a series of mystery books by Lee Child. They’re about a guy named Jack Reacher. He’s a retired military police officer, and he basically wanders around the country — no possessions, just the clothes on his back. He’s trying to mind his own business, but he keeps finding himself in these situations where he’ll have to become like a little mini-superhero — knocking heads, fighting a bad guy, helping someone in trouble. My father introduced the books to me; now, every time a new one is coming out, he tells me I have to order it and then send it to him when I’ve finished it. But I just bought an iPad, and he has one, too. This is my last paper book. Things are changing, and I will start reading electronically.”

Do you read any magazines or newspapers?

“I read the New York Times online on my iPhone.”

Name: Mark Morris | Age: 50 | Occupation: Manager
Neighborhood: UTC | Where interviewed: Food court, UTC mall

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