Read Like a President

The White House recently released the list of books President Obama will be reading during his summer vacation at Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. Here's a rundown of the titles, which you can check out from The City Library.

All That Is by James Salter

From his experiences as a young naval officer in battles off Okinawa, Philip Bowman returns to America and finds a position as a book editor. In a world of dinners, deals, and literary careers, Bowman finds that he fits in perfectly. But despite his success, what eludes him is love. His first marriage goes bad, another fails to happen, and finally he meets a woman who enthrals him before setting him on a course he could never imagine for himself.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History. After going blind at age six, her father builds her a model of their neighborhood so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure's great uncle lives by the sea wall. In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister and is enchanted by a crude radio he finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In The Sixth Extinction, Kolbert provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy; as Kolbert observes, it compels us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

Brothers Subhash and Udayan Mitra pursue vastly different lives—Udayan in rebellion-torn Calcutta, Subhash in a quiet corner of America—until a shattering tragedy compels Subhash to return to India, where he endeavors to heal family wounds.

Between the World and Me Ta-Nehisi Coates

Coates takes readers along on his journey through America's history of race and its contemporary resonances through a series of awakenings—moments when he discovered some new truth about our long, tangled history of race, whether through his myth-busting professors at Howard University, a trip to a Civil War battlefield with a rogue historian, a journey to Chicago's South Side to visit aging survivors of 20th century America's "long war on black people," or a visit with the mother of a beloved friend who was shot down by the police.

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow

Celebrated biographer Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of our nation, dashing forever the stereotype of a stolid, unemotional man, and revealing an astute and surprising portrait of a canny political genius who knew how to inspire people.