As a part of his effort to raise the awareness of the problems of small businesses, President Obama bought more than twenty books at a local bookstore.
His visit to Politics & Prose was carried out on Saturday after the Black Friday, also known as Small Business Saturday. And although the main goal was to encourage the US citizens to help their local businesses, this visit is likely to lead to the traditional analysis of President’s reading list.
This time, however, Obama is unlikely to provide political pundits a lot of food for thought: the list is way too eclectic to form any kind of balanced picture. There are a lot of books obviously aimed at children and young adults (most likely for his two daughters, Malia and Sasha).
Two books are dedicated to sports in this or that way: “The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance” is aimed at breaking down some traditional views on sports and the reasons why some people excel at them, and “Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football” is an account of the National Football League, its internal politics and those parts of its life that are usually not presented to the public.
Among notable fiction reads there are “Red Sparrow”, a spy novel by Jason Matthews critically praised for its realistic approach to the subject matter, “All That Is” by James Salter, “The Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahiri and “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena” by Anthony Marra. They all are likely to experience some rise in sales in the near future, just like it happened several years ago, when the White House mentioned that Obama was reading “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen before its release and buyers swarmed booksellers who didn’t have it in stock yet.
Most of the other books are younger readers: “Heart of a Samurai”, a critically acclaimed novel about a life of a teenager from Japan in mid-19th century America, “Half Brother” by Kenneth Oppel, telling the story of a relationship between a teenager and a chimpanzee taken in by his parents, and “My Antonia” by Willa Cather. Who is going to read them in his family Obama didn’t say.
All in all, this visit was unlikely to be much more than a demonstrative gesture – Obama is well-known for being attached to his iPad, and it is more than possible that he does most of his reading on it.