First Family’s Summer Reading List

By Dschabner

Aug 20, 2011 1:58pm

ABC News' Stephanie Smith and David Kerley report:

We now know how the president’s going to spend some of his downtime while vacationing here in Martha’s Vineyard.

Yesterday, we reported that President Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha made an impromptu stop at Bunch of Grapes, a popular island bookstore in Vineyard Haven. When they left the bookstore some 30 minutes later, Sasha emerged with a large brown paper bag, but despite several requests by tenacious reporters as to what books the president might have purchased, it took 24 hours to finally learn most of the bag’s contents.

Drum roll please:  On President Obama’s reading list were two new purchases. One was “The Bayou Trilogy,” a collection of three novels by Daniel Woodrell that features a recurring character, Det. Rene Shade, an ex-boxer turned cop. These thrillers take place in the Louisiana swamp town of Saint Bruno, according to Amazon.com, which says “there’s poetry in Woodrell’s mayhem, each novel — and scene — full of gritty and memorable Cajun details.”

His second purchase, “Rodin’s Debutante,” written by Ward Just, his 17th novel. This book may ring more familiar to President Obama as it takes place on the outskirts of Chicago around the mid-20th century and features an adventurous kid, Amazon says, who “tries to find a way to create art in the face of the world’s harshness.” 21st century translation: an adventurous president who tries to find a way to create a balanced budget in the face of Congress’ harshness.

The president also brought along three other books with him. “Cutting for Stone” is a novel by Abraham Verghese that spans decades and continents, from India to Ethiopia to an inner-city hospital in New York City. “To the End of the Land,” by Israeli author David Grossman, is a novel about an Israeli mother caught up in a love triangle with two men who each fathered a son with her. The story is intertwined with the reality of decades of military conflicts in the region, described by Amazon.com as “a book of mourning for those not dead, a mother's lament for life during a wartime that has no end in sight.”

Lastly, “The Warmth of other Suns,” written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson, the only non-fiction book on the president’s list. It follows three African-Americans who fled the south as part of the “great migration,” the exodus of 6 million black Southerners.

No word yet on what the girls purchased. Stay tuned.

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