President Obama has been shopping again – for books. At a Bunch of Grapes Bookstore in Martha’s Vineyard on Aug. 19, he bought two books for himself, Daniel Woodrell’s The Bayou Trilogy and Ward Just’s Rodin’s Debutante.
Isn’t it inspiring to have a president who reads literature? He also brought three books from home to Martha’s Vineyard: Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone, David Grossman’s To the End of the Land, and Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns.
So do you suppose he’s like the rest of us: bringing several books on vacation so he can browse and graze and pick something to suit his mood?
According to an article in The Daily Beast, “Obama’s Book Club,” Obama has read 24 books since May 21, 2008. It’s an excellent list.
My only criticism? He needs to read more women writers.
So I’ve decided cheekily to make a list of women writers he might like to read on vacation. Well, maybe next year’s vacation.
Here is the list.
Oh Pure and Radiant Heart by Lydia Millet. In this brilliant novel, Ann, a librarian, dreams about Robert Oppenheimer, Father of the Atom Bomb. Suddenly Oppenheimer and two other physicists responsible for the bomb, Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard, magically appear in 2003 in Santa Fe, and are appalled by the results of their invention. Soon the physicists, with Ann, and her garedener husband, take off in a caravan to preach world peace and nuclear disarmament. Things do not, of course, go smoothly.
A Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich. This exquisite novel is a collection of beautifully written stories that fit together as a novel. Erdrich relates how several generations of a group of American Indians in North Dakota are affected by racist accusations that they murdered a white family.
Nella Last’s War: The Second World War Diaries of Housewife, 49. This extraordinarily well-written diary of a middle-aged housewife’s life in England during World War II was written for The Mass-Observation Archive, founded in 1937 to conduct social research on everyday life in England.
Nox by Anne Carson. Carson is a classics professor at the University of Michigan. The title of the poem, Nox, means “night” in Latin and is used interchangeably with mors, “death.” Carson’s elegy for her brother Michael, who died in 2000, is inextricably entangled here with Catullus’ stunning elegy for his dead brother (Poem 101) . In fact, Carson’s poem is a homage to Catullus and an exploration of the difficulties of translation, grief, and customs honoring death across time and cultures.
Kingfishers Catch Fire by Rumer Godden. This autobiographical novel is based on Godden’s experiences when she moved to Kashmir with her two children to “live simply.” Set in a gorgeous landscape poetically described, it delineates the family’s struggles and the resentment of the villagers when the rebellious, hip mother intrudes on village life and transgresses social barriers.
So that’s my list. And if anyone has any other reading suggestions for President Obama (or anyone else, like for me), please add them.