This week Obama will be maxin’ relaxin’ on the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. To accompany him, he’s lugging quite the carry-on of books. How many books does a president read in one week? No that’s not your cue to give the punch line, and yes there’s a real answer: five incredible books. Pack a few for your summer own summer travels – here’s what Obama is reading in the waning weeks of summer.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Heeding Oprah’s recommendation, nice.
Since its debut, Colson’s historical sci-fi novel has captivated the attention of some notable readers. It’s been recognized nationally as a 2016 must-read, and selected by Oprah as the next read for her notorious book club. Add Obama to that list of notables and you’ve got more than enough reasons to add this book to your list. It’s far from your high school history class’ explanation of slavery and the impending Civil War, but Colson’s take does capitalize on a common misconception I’m sure many had at the age: that the ‘underground railroad’ was an actual railroad. His book follows an escaped slave, Cora, traveling on the train as it snakes from state to state, each leg of the journey a new bout of twists and perils.
The Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan
Although he’s more likely to be surfing waves of rose and crisp cabernet at the vineyard, it doesn’t hurt to dream of the California shore or the barrelling seas of the Asian and African coasts! With a backdrop of tides, swells and plenty of white wash, The Barbarian Days follows Finnegan’s wave-chasing days of youth. For Finnegan, surfing is a love, an addiction, an enchantment – the arena for brotherhood and a medium for explaining his history – but more than anything, it’s a testimony to the intense bond that can form between man and nature.
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
Perhaps a good read for Obama to jump into after The Barbarian Days, H is for Hawk retains a similar appreciation for bonds beyond the bind of human connection and a deep appreciation for nature. Macdonald’s bestselling novel tells the story of when she decided to adopt and raise a hawk after the death of her father. The rare bird is a vicious raptor, but like Helen, filled with the desperate will to survive life’s harsh circumsatnces.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Rest assured even Obama can’t turn down a hop on the band wagon. The Girl on the Train has killed it this year, pushing Hawkins into the ranks of richest authors, scoring her a film adaption and worldwide recognition as the next author to climb the trove of ‘gone girl’ reads and ascend the sub-genre’s throne. With the film hitting theatres this fall, Obama’s selection comes just in time.
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
I knew there was a sci-fi geek under that cool-dad facade… The fifth and final book Obama will be reading during his vacation asks a question that much of sci-fi and many a bomb-shelter building fanatic seem to ask: if the world is ending, how do we deal? In Stephenson’s take, the world is a ticking time bomb and the nations band together in a unilateral move to propel the human race on another planet. Five thousand years later, the remaining people, composed of seven distinct races, take a perilous journey back to their roots on Earth.
Featured image courtesy of Patch.