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President Obama's beach reads

August 24, 2009 | 10:57 am


President Obama and his family have taken off for some beach vacation time at Martha's Vineyard. But the president has more on his agenda than just steamers and beer -- he brought books along. Our blog Top of the Ticket reports:

Today, Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton volunteered -- even before anyone could ask him -- that President Obama had brought along a pile of books on his family summer vacation to Martha's Vineyard.

The list, with some additional bookish notes from Jacket Copy:

"The Way Home," by George Pelecanos. Jacket Copy talked to Pelecanos about the book in May. "This is really about a relationship between father and son, and how they find each other over a long, kind of tortuous road," he said. "On the thriller side of things, also I try to deliver the goods there, but I'm most concerned with my characters."

"Lush Life" by Richard Price. Like Pelecanos, Price has written for the TV show "The Wire," and deals with both individual characters and their larger social context. "For Price," David Ulin wrote in our review, "the social novel is also a crime novel, or maybe it's just that in the intersection between criminality and citizenship we get our truest sense of what the city means."

"Plainsong," by Kent Haruf, a novel set in Colorado that was nominated for the 1999 National Book Award. "People sometimes think then that the way I write, this kind of spare stark writing, has to do with the fact that I am writing about the high plains," he told the website Identity Theory in 2004. "Well, that's nonsense, too. The high plains are spare and they are stark. Of course they are. But that doesn't, in my view, affect the way I write. The way I write is simply my nature and what appeals to me."

"Hot, Flat and Crowded" by Thomas Friedman. Focusing on climate change and energy issues, this seems more like homework than fun reading.

"John Adams" by David McCullough. A presidential biography? That's bound to remind him of the office.

Looks like President Obama hasn't quite got this escapist-beach-read thing down. Oh well, a working vacation can't hurt.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: President Barack Obama leaves Long Beach Airport in March, 2009. Credit: Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times