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From the Corner of the Oval

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  14,066 ratings  ·  1,952 reviews
The compulsively readable, behind-the-scenes memoir that takes readers inside the Obama White House, through the eyes of a young staffer learning the ropes, falling in love, and finding her place in the world.

In 2012, Beck Dorey-Stein was just scraping by in DC when a posting on Craigslist landed her, improbably, in the Oval Office as one of Barack Obama's stenographers. T
Hardcover, 330 pages
Published July 10th 2018 by Spiegel & Grau
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Kara Towns I just finished the book today and had the same questions! I've been scouring Dorey-Stein's social media to try to find out!! I've found Teddy and Noa…moreI just finished the book today and had the same questions! I've been scouring Dorey-Stein's social media to try to find out!! I've found Teddy and Noah's true identities, but no sign of Jason. Dying to know!!(less)
Lori The only similarity I could find is that they both take place in the Obama administration and there are references to some of the same people. You can…moreThe only similarity I could find is that they both take place in the Obama administration and there are references to some of the same people. You can read my review--I did not like this book, at all. It is not an insightful look into working in that administration; it is a look into the chaos of her personal life with the White House as the setting. "Who Thought..." mentions the author's personal life in some passing references but truly focuses on her job, responsibilities, world affairs and much more of the actual experience with mature insight and humor. It truly depends on what you're most interested in but for me--"Who Thought" is the way to go if you want a grown up look.(less)

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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  14,066 ratings  ·  1,952 reviews

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Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
My rating moved up and down through the entire book. Her experiences in The Oval Office were really interesting and I felt like I was there with her! 5 stars! On the other side of the equation, her relationships were a train wreck and I couldn't figure out if she was incredibly brave for sharing them or incredibly stupid (I know that's harsh) to think she could come out looking good, when she was (spoiler) sleeping with a man who was in a relationship and expecting, well I don't know what she wa ...more
Larry H
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
4.5 stars here.

Beck Dorey-Stein was a twenty-something former teacher unsure of not only what she wanted to do with her future, but whether she'd even be able to find a job to sustain her until she figured out her life. Living in Washington, DC to be closer to her boyfriend, she cobbles together a number of part-time jobs to make ends meet, but she's envious of those who know what they want.

When she answers a Craigslist posting for a job, she figures it won't amount to anything. She's more than
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was looking for a less wonky take on the Obama era. I got less wonk, but plenty of alcohol-fueled bad decisions, a ton of self-doubt, a toxic relationship that took up so much of the memoir I have to wonder if the author is STILL hung up on him, all peppered with the obligatory "how lucky we are to serve our country this way." It was definitely a reminder that staffers are human and the political heights are a unique pressure cooker. I just wish I had picked a guide who told a less repetitive ...more
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
From the Corner of the Oval is not what I expected. Beck Dorsey-Stein worked as a stenographer in the Obama administration. This means that she was one of a handful of people who’s job it was to record and transcribe every public meeting, interview or statement made by Obama. This also means that she spent an awful lot of time in close proximity to Obama and his entourage, including traveling through the US and around the world on Air Force One. I expected Dorsey-Stein’s book to be about the inn ...more
May 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
I think my quibble with this book was far more with the way it is being marketed, or positioned, than with the memoir itself. Ms. Dorey-Stein's book felt more like a coming-of-age story to me than a White House memoir.
It may well be my age, or experience level, but I read it as a personal struggle for emotional and professional maturity more than a political memoir. And, after wading through her rather repetitive series of disappointing relationships with lovers, she didn't grow emotionally, so
Jul 11, 2018 rated it did not like it
Juvenile. For thought provoking insight into working in the Obama White House read Alyssa Mastromonoco, David Litt or Ben Rhodes. For the importance of being "cool," rationalizing an (extremely) emotionally abusive relationship that hurts multiple parties and drinking/getting drunk around the world--there is this. Sadly the important events/people of this administration are mere back drops to all the mess. ...more
Roman Clodia
Great hook but if you’re expecting White House gossip and the inside track on the Obamas and politics more generally then you may end up as disappointed as I am. The highlights are definitely the Obama cameos: his ease with everyone, the moment when he tells the story of how he first met Michelle and she refused to date him... But they are just that: cameos.

About 80% of the book is the life-story of Beck who acts like a teenager throughout: she’s constantly drunk, she cheats on her boyfriend wh
Karen Geiger
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
I totally hate-read this book. I devoured it like tasty popcorn that makes you a little sick. Beck Dorey-Stein gives us a behind-the-scenes look at being a stenographer for President Obama - an entry-level job that enables her to travel around with other Obama staffers. What ensues is basically a 5 year frat party filled with boozing, boy craziness, hookups in hotels, endless comparing of herself to other female staffers, and an unabashed idolization of Obama. I can literally hear her squealing, ...more
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
[3.5] Irritating and irresistible, I liked this book in spite of the heavy doses of 20-something boyfriend angst - especially the repetitive descriptions of Dorey-Stein's poisonous affair with a White House staffer.

The author's job as a stenographer is ordinary, but the setting is extraordinary. She is open-hearted and funny and allows us glimpses of the Oval Office and Air Force One. From her "corner," she is privy to an extraordinary view of Obama, whom she adores.
Patricia Romero
May 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I wanted to read this book because of the behind the scenes look at Obama and what goes on during all of that travel.

While it began strongly, Beck gets caught up in the trap of drinking with and sleeping with her co-workers. I’m not sure how she got anything done as drunk as she always is and not really picky about who she is sleeping with.

We got a few interesting glimpses of Obama and other staff members, but it was all overshadowed by her almost teen-aged angst and sleeping with men already in
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
An enlightening and captivating journey around the world on Air Force One.

In 2012, Beck Dorey-Steinback was just scraping by in DC, when a posting on Craigslist landed her, most improbably, in the oval office as one of Barack Obama stenographers. She joined the elite team who accompanied the President wherever he went and recorded and transcribed all of his talks. She traveled across time zones, and forge friendships with a group of fellow travelers-young men and women who, like her herse
Jennifer Blankfein
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Twenty something Beck is living in DC, enjoying time with her boyfriend, working a part time teaching job and part time at Lululemon, trying to make ends meet, when she answers an ad for a job as a stenographer at a law firm on Craigslist. They ask for her resume and cover letter and Beck, thinking nobody even reads her cover letters, omits it. She hears back with a request for the cover letter and feeling discouraged from her ongoing job search she tells them in an email that her resumé speaks ...more
Oct 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
I am at 155 pages and debating whether to stop... (ETA: skimmed the rest and it was painful.)

Do you remember when you would write in your diary or journal, and then ten years, two years, six months later, you would read what you wrote and think my God, what an idiot I was!?! I seriously believe Dorey-Stein is somewhere, already cringing... at least I hope. She may not be self-aware enough.

Things I hate about this memoir so far: Beck's terrible boyfriend Sam. Sam calls her "cookie" affectionately
Cindy Burnett
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
From the Corner of the Oval is a fun and highly entertaining read. From her hilarious process of getting hired as one of Obama’s stenographers to her final days at the White House after President Obama leaves, the book is informative, at turns hilarious, and always chock full of tales about life at the White House. The best parts of the book are those detailing her travels and the ins-and-outs of working for the president. I could have done with a little less information on her inability to jett ...more
Allegra Poschmann
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book started strong, and then got very repetitive. Ultimately, it's a coming-of-age story about a young girl falling in love, falling out of love and learning to love herself set against the backdrop of working as President Obama's stenographer. I wish she would have gone into more detail about her experience and all of the amazing things she got to witness; instead, it felt like there were some minor references to 'big news stories' (i.e. the Newtown mass shooting, Obama's lift on the Cuba ...more
Kate Vocke (bookapotamus)
From the Corner of the Oval is the EXACT book you want to read for all the revealing scoop inside the Obama Administration White House and what it would be like to work inside. We see what it's like to work alongside the president, travel the world and hang out with other staffers. MINUS the boring political swill and old school players in Washington, DC. OK, well there ARE technically players, but of a "sleep me with and then don't talk to me for months" kinda way.

It's not so much about the inn
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I devoured this book. Beck pulls us along on her journey into the Obama administration from her vantage point as a stenographer. Access to the history-making moments and the people who made them was fascinating. The relationship sagas woven into the snapshots of history was icing on the cake. This is a memoir but reads like fiction. The writing is smart and well developed. The end came too soon and left me mourning (along with Beck) the end of Obama’s time all over again. A must read for anybody ...more
The Lit Bitch
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is not your grandma’s White House biography.

Non fiction is not a genre that I read a whole lot of. Non fiction—especially biographies etc—aren’t not my thing, but ever once in a while a non fiction book comes up that captures my eye and this was one of those books.

The summary promised the most random story—a woman lands a job at the White House via Craig’s List.

Yes you read that right. Craig’s List. The White House. Stenographer for the President. Yes—THE POTUS. What the actual *&%????? Sol
Rod Brown
Jun 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-real-books
Reviewed from an Advance Reader's Edition.

I found this book to be in turns engrossing and frustrating.

First, I picked this book up solely because I saw the author was a stenographer. For about seven years, I assisted in the training of realtime machine stenographers at the now-defunct AIB College of Business in Des Moines, Iowa. I was the department dictator, helping instructors read court transcripts out loud to the students, usually taking the part of the witness in the testimony selections. (
Sep 25, 2018 rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book. I’m still deciding whether to give it one or two stars. The only thing that saves it is some of the wonderful moments that involve President Obama. I expected it to be much more about her work and Obama insights (which there is some of) than reading what probably boils down to journal entries recalling the years of bad personal relationship decisions. I forced myself to finish the book because I wanted the glimpses of President Obama. Otherwise, every time the ...more
Jul 19, 2018 rated it did not like it
The two stars was because the Obama stuff was fun and enjoyable. The rest was a mess of her getting drunk all the time and rambling on incessantly about how she shouldn’t be sleeping with someone and then turning around and sleeping with them. Over and over and over again.
Grace Lindsey
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
Maybe not everyone needs to write a book?
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In the spirit of Thanks Obama, My Hopey, Changey, White House Years comes From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein. Beck is a young 20-something in Washington DC who's finding her way. She's working a couple of jobs to help ends meet and comes upon a Craigslist ad and applies, assuming it's just another job. She's stunned to find out that it's a position as a stenographer -in the Obama White House. She travels on Air Force One and comes to be a part of her own White House family. I'm find ...more
Kat Narvaez
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
EXCELLENT! Simply EXCELLENT. I flew through this memoir and forgot about the rest of life moving around me. Beck Dorey-Stein is an incredible author, I will be sure to keep an eye out for her upcoming books (****please write more books*****)
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I listened to this, which I think greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the book. The author is a fantastic narrator and I often found myself sitting in my car, listening for a few more minutes. Beck Dorey-Stein was unemployed when she randomly answered an ad on Craig's List for a stenographer, thereby landing a job with the Obama White House. She traveled extensively with the President and even worked out in the hotel gym next to him in the pre-dawn hours. There is one scene where he wants to use th ...more
Nicole Chinnici
3.5, rounding down. I really enjoyed the author's writing style but could have done with a little less detail of her personal life. ...more
Aug 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
THIS SOUNDS LIKE A 14 YEAR OLD GIRL’S DIARY. This author is so cringey to listen to. I thought it would be about how she got a job at the White House and what it’s like working in politics and like 2 pages in she says “yeah so I applied and did and interview and took a test and I was in!!!” Doesn’t talk about politics or anything exciting in politics. She just talks about drinking and tries and be cute and quirky but really it’s just uncomfortable to read because it’s so tacky and predictable.
Dick Reynolds
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
I got about half way through this book before giving up. There are some interesting incidents about President Obama and other senior White House staffers but they are outweighed by the author’s uninteresting problems with life and her lovers, marking her with an inconsistent level of maturity.
As a writer, Ms. Dorey-Stein commits the unforgivable sin: She made me not care a whit about her or her White House experience.
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was fantastic!! I’m a political junkie, so I really enjoyed Beck’s retelling of all the ins & outs of working for President Obama. The juicy details about the trials & tribulations of her personal life made this book spectacular as well !!

5 Stars !
Aug 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Needed more Obama and less boy-crazy.
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Goodreads Librari...: please add original publication date 2 17 Oct 28, 2018 12:04AM  

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Beck Dorey-Stein is a native of Narberth, Pennsylvania and a graduate of Wesleyan University. Prior to her five years in the White House, she taught high school English in Hightstown, New Jersey; Washington, D.C.; and Seoul, South Korea.

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