President Obama's Summer Reading List Revealed

President Obama Los Angeles - H 2015
AP Images

President Obama Los Angeles - H 2015

President Obama has brought some books with him on his extended late-summer holiday on Martha’s Vineyard — he arrived on Aug. 7 and he’s staying until Aug. 23 — to go along with the prodigious amount of golf he'll be playing, including a round with Curb Your Enthusiasm creator Larry David.

Here’s what’s on the president's reading list:

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow
The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
All That Is by James Salter
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

Some quick notes on his choices:

Coates is the hottest African-American intellectual out there right now. His case for slavery reparations in The Atlantic last year made a huge stir. And he’s helping David Simon pen his Martin Luther King Jr. miniseries for HBO. Between the World and Me is a memoir written in the form of an essay to his son that explores what it means to be a black male in today’s America.

Chernow has also been in the news lately, but for one of his older books, Alexander Hamilton, which was the inspiration for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hot, hip musical (read THR’s cover story on it here). In this book his goal is to replace the myth with a man, so as to appreciate him more. Presidents love to read biographies of other presidents. Sometime during their term, every president turns to either Washington or Lincoln.

New Yorker writer Kolbert argues humans are changing the world so much — “reassembling the biosphere,” in her words — that it's going to bring on the sixth great extinction of life in Earth’s history. Scary stuff and sure to reinforce the Republican view that Obama’s environmental policies are bad since, as a general rule, the party dismisses the idea of climate change and the human impact on the biosphere

Obama’s three novels — All That Is, All The Light We Cannot See and The Lowland — show an interest in highbrow literary fiction. No cheesy beach-read page-turners here. Salter won a prestigious PEN/Faulkner award, while Lahiri and Doerr won Pulitzers. Interestingly, all three novels are set in the '40s to '60s period. All That Is is about an American naval officer coming to terms with his World War II service. All the Light We Cannot See is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose lives intersect during WWII. Lowland is an India-set novel about two brothers growing up in Calcutta in the '50s and '60s.