Sure, the eurozone is collapsing, the economy is headed toward recession, the Middle East is in flames, and the GOP race has finally begun. But what I really want to know is which piece of pretentious literary fiction President Obama will read on vacation this year.
President Bush loved reading books on American diplomatic and political history. But President Obama has evinced a taste for more highbrow fare: In 2007 he famously told David Brooks that Reinhold Niebuhr was "one of my favorite philosophers." In 2008 he was spotted carrying a copy of Fareed Zakaria's Post-American World (a sign of what was to come!). In 2009 he read Joseph O'Neill's Netherland and Richard Price's Lush Life. In 2010 he got an early copy of Jonathan Franzen's Freedom.
And in 2011? I wouldn't be surprised if the president touts former New York Times reporter Amy Waldman's The Submission, in which the innate bigotry and intolerance of American society is exposed when a Muslim architect wins the commission to design the 9/11 memorial. According to Michiko Kakutani, the novel "reminds us how inextricably linked the personal and the political, the private and the public have become in our post-9/11 world." Catnip for literary types.
Of course, I could be wrong. Which book do you think President Obama will take with him on vacation?