It's summertime and across the nation many people are asking themselves the same pressing question: What books should I pack in my beach bag this year?
Helpfully, plenty of the nation's top minds have stepped forward to offer suggestions. Everyone from top VC Marc Andreessen to TED speakers have shared the titles that are making into their suitcase or onto their e-reader. And now, even President Obama is getting into the act.
Vogue recently outlined what books the President has kicked back with when he and his family vacation on Martha's Vineyard each summer, as well as sharing the picks that are coming with the commander-in-chief this year. The titles are an eclectic mix of timely nonfiction and critically acclaimed novels that would make a great crib sheet for any wondering what to take along on their own summer break.
1. Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction
I read this one recently. It's mind-blowing and totally readable, but not exactly cheerful. The title of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book refers to a gargantuan die off of species -- the worst, according to scientists, since a giant meteor killed off the dinosaurs -- that's currently going on outside of the notice of most people. What's the culprit behind this environmental cataclysm? Us.
2. Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me
This is a topical choice given the recent spate of depressing headlines reflecting the troubled state of race relations in the country. A National Book award winner, Coates's much praised book "offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation's history and current crisis," according to Amazon.
3. James Salter's All That Is
"When I think about how I understand my role as citizen," Obama has previously said, "the most important stuff I've learned I think I've learned from novels." No wonder several fiction titles are making it into his vacation bag this summer. Salter's novel follows the life of a naval officer just returned from the battlefields of World War II. The New York Times called it "a crowning achievement," for the celebrated writer.
4. Jhumpa Lahiri's The Lowland
Another novel, The Lowland follows two brothers from Calcutta from the tumultuous 1960s through to the present. Booklist called Lahiri's second novel "a magnificent, universal, and indelible work of literature. An absolute triumph."
5. Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See
Another Pulitzer Prize winner, this "beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller," traces the story of "a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II," Amazon explains.
6. Ron Chernow's Washington: A Life
Perhaps the president is trying to get a little perspective on his time in the White House as he nears the end of his second term by reading this biography of the nation's first commander in chief. It's by the same author who wrote the biography that inspired the wildly popular musical Hamilton.
What do you think of the President's book picks?