President Obama brought along three books with him to Martha’s Vineyard and purchased two more at the Vineyard bookseller, Bunch of Grapes, to add to his reading list. Of the five books, four are novels. One is a nonfiction account of the exodus of African Americans from the South.
Ever wondered if the president’s taste in books is close to yours? Here’s what he’s reading for the next few weeks:
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.
The Bayou Trilogy by Daniel Woodrell
Rene Shade is an uncompromising detective swimming in a sea of filth. As Shade takes on hit men, porn kings, a gang of ex-cons, and the ghosts of his own checkered past, Woodrell’s three seminal novels pit long-entrenched criminals against the hard line of the law, brother against brother, and two vastly different sons against a long-absent father.
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers … orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics — their passion for the same woman — that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him — nearly destroying him — Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.
To the End of the Land by David Grossman
Just before his release from service in the Israeli army, Ora’s son, Ofer, is sent back to the front for a major offensive. In a fit of pre-emptive grief and magical thinking, so that no bad news can reach her, Ora sets out on an epic hike in the Galilee. She is joined by an unlikely companion — Avram, a former friend and lover with a troubled past — and as they sleep out in the hills, Ora begins to conjure her son. Ofer’s story, as told by Ora, becomes a surprising balm both for her and for Avram — and a mother’s powerful meditation on war and family.
Rodin’s Debutante by Ward Just
Tommy Ogden declines to give his wife the money to commission a bust of herself from the French master Rodin and announces instead his intention to endow a boys’ school. Ogden’s decision reverberates years later in the life of Lee Goodell, whose coming-of-age is at the heart of Ward Just’s emotionally potent new novel.
Well damn, a brotha could’ve picked up Skin Deep by Kathleen Cross. It has a biracial-but-black-identified theme Mr. Obama could definitely relate to. Maybe next summer …