After his usual busy state tour during the August recess of 2015, he and his wife planned a five-day vacation at a Minnesota lodge prior to joining a congressional delegation on a grueling trip to Africa. “We were going to Senegal, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Gabon, and then to Capo Verde on the way back—all in six days,” he says. But then his wife fell ill and decided she needed to shore up her energy for the overseas trip, suggesting he go to the cabin alone.
“I’ve been threatening to write about how I became a senator, and I had nothing to do for five days. I had my laptop and went into the cabin. I felt that it was either going to be The Shining or it would turn out okay.”
It turned out more than just okay. Al Franken: Giant of the Senate debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and hasn’t fallen past fourth place since.
He decided the book would be a great way to answer questions that often come his way. “I’m always asked, ‘Is being a senator as much fun as working on Saturday Night Live?’ ” he explains. “And the answer is, ‘No, why should it be?’ But it’s the best job I’ve ever had. And then the next question I get asked is, How did you transition from being a comedian to being a senator, and what’s that like? That seemed like a pretty natural thing to write about—my first campaign and how I got into it.”
It meant a lot for Franken to run for the seat previously occupied by Senator Paul Wellstone—a man much admired by the Franken family—who set an example of someone who worked hard for his constituents.
When asked what he hopes people take away from his book, Franken responds, “There are a lot of challenges to be a senator, especially at this time. But the goal is—and I cite Wellstone—to improve people’s lives. That’s why I’m there, and that’s what I try to do. I want people to take away that it’s still a noble profession, even if some people in it are ignoble.”