On a recent Saturday, President Obama and his family went to a local independent bookstore, Politics and Prose, and purchased 21 books. Here are the books the president bought, ranked from most popular to least popular (based on the number of Amazon reviews).
1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The publisher says: The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.
2. Wild: From Lost to Found On the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
The publisher says: A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
3. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
The publisher says: National Book Award Finalist. An extraordinary new novel, set in both India and America, that expands the scope and range of one of our most dazzling storytellers: a tale of two brothers bound by tragedy, a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past, a country torn by revolution, and a love that lasts long past death. Masterly suspenseful, sweeping, piercingly intimate, The Lowland is a work of great beauty and complex emotion; an engrossing family saga and a story steeped in history that spans generations and geographies with seamless authenticity.
4. The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
The publisher says: Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award For Fiction. A gorgeous novel by the celebrated author of When the Emperor Was Divine that tells the story of a group of young women brought from Japan to San Francisco as “picture brides” nearly a century ago. In eight unforgettable sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces the extraordinary lives of these women, from their arduous journeys by boat, to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; from their experiences raising children who would later reject their culture and language, to the deracinating arrival of war.
5. Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews
The publisher says: In present-day Russia, ruled by blue-eyed, unblinking President Vladimir Putin, Russian intelligence officer Dominika Egorova struggles to survive in the post-Soviet intelligence jungle. Ordered against her will to become a “Sparrow,” a trained seductress, Dominika is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash, a young CIA officer who handles the Agency’s most important Russian mole. As the action careens between Russia, Finland, Greece, Italy, and the United States, Dominika and Nate soon collide in a duel of wills, tradecraft, and—inevitably—forbidden passion that threatens not just their lives but those of others as well…
6. My Antonia by Willa Cather
The publisher says: One of Cather’s earliest novels—written in 1918—is the story of Antonia Shimerda, who arrives on the Nebraska frontier as part of a family of Bohemian emigrants. In quiet, probing depth, the story commemorates the spirit and courage of the immigrant pioneers whose persistence and strength helped to build America.
7. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
The publisher says: For grades Preschool–2. “One night, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight.” Armed only with an oversized purple crayon, young Harold draws himself a landscape full of wonder and excitement. Full of funny twists and surprises, this joyful story shows just how far your imagination can take you. Harold and the Purple Crayon has delighted readers of all ages for over fifty years.
8. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
The publisher says: A National Book Awards Longlist Selection. A story of the transcendent power of love in wartime, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a work of sweeping breadth, profound compassion, and lasting significance. Two doctors risk everything to save the life of a hunted child in this majestic debut about love, loss, and the unexpected ties that bind us together.
9. All That Is by James Salter
The publisher says: A sweeping, seductive, deeply moving story set in the years after World War II. 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. 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 enthralls him—before setting him on a course he could never have imagined for himself.
10. The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance by David Epstein
The publisher says: We all knew a star athlete in high school. The one who made it look so easy. He was the starting quarterback and shortstop; she was the all-state point guard and high-jumper. Naturals. Or were they? In this controversial and engaging exploration of athletic success, Sports Illustrated senior writer David Epstein tackles the great nature vs. nurture debate and traces how far science has come in solving this great riddle.
11. Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
The publisher says: Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time. Published in 1975, Ragtime changed our very concept of what a novel could be. An extraordinary tapestry, Ragtime captures the spirit of America in the era between the turn of the century and the First World War.
12. Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
The publisher says: For grades 3–7. Winner of the 2014 Newbery Medal. Holy unanticipated occurrences! A cynic meets an unlikely superhero in a genre-breaking new novel by master storyteller Kate DiCamillo.
13. Jinx by Sage Blackwood
The publisher says: For grades 3–7. The highly acclaimed first book of a fantasy adventure series set in a mysterious forest, starring a daring new hero. “Readers will thrill to journey with Jinx” (School Library Journal, starred review), a wizard’s apprentice, as he sets off on a quest through the dangerous Urwald, a magical forest full of wizards and were-creatures, and discovers that it is more complex than he could imagine, and that it needs him more than he could ever guess.
14. Journey by Aaron Becker
The publisher says: For grades Preschool–3. Follow a girl on an elaborate flight of fancy in a wondrously illustrated, wordless picture book about self-determination—and unexpected friendship. A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free.
15. Ballad of the Sad Café: And Other Stories by Carson McCullers
The publisher says: A classic work that has charmed generations of readers, this collection assembles Carson McCullers’s best stories, including her beloved novella The Ballad of the Sad Café. A haunting tale of a human triangle that culminates in an astonishing brawl, the novella introduces readers to Miss Amelia, a formidable southern woman whose café serves as the town’s gathering place. The Ballad of the Sad Café is a brilliant study of love and longing from one of the South’s finest writers.
16. Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football by Nicholas Dawidoff
The publisher says: By spending a year with the New York Jets, Nicholas Dawidoff entered a mysterious and private world with its own rituals and language. Equal parts Paper Lion, Moneyball, Friday Night Lights, and The Office, this absorbing, funny, and vivid narrative gets to the heart of a massive and stressful collective endeavor. Here is football in many faces: the polarizing, brilliant, and hilarious head coach; the general manager, whose job is to support (and suppress) the irrepressible coach; the defensive coaches and their in-house rivals, the offensive coaches; and of course the players. Dawidoff makes an emblematic NFL season come alive for fans and nonfans alike in a book about football that will forever change the way people watch and think about the sport.
17. Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus
The publisher says: For grades 5–9. In 1841, a Japanese fishing vessel sinks. Its crew is forced to swim to a small, unknown island, where they are rescued by a passing American ship. Japan’s borders remain closed to all Western nations, so the crew sets off to America, learning English on the way. Manjiro, a fourteen-year-old boy, is curious and eager to learn everything he can about this new culture. Eventually the captain adopts Manjiro and takes him to his home in New England. The boy lives for some time in New England, and then heads to San Francisco to pan for gold. After many years, he makes it back to Japan, only to be imprisoned as an outsider. With his hard-won knowledge of the West, Manjiro is in a unique position to persuade the shogun to ease open the boundaries around Japan; he may even achieve his unlikely dream of becoming a samurai.
18. Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst and Lane Smith
The publisher says: For grades 1–5. Lulu is so accustomed to getting what she wants that when her parents deny her birthday request for a brontosaurus, she throws a four-day temper tantrum and then storms off into the forest in search of the dinosaur she clearly deserves. Lulu isn’t particularly impressed with the snake, tiger, and bear she encounters, but then she finds him—a beautiful, long-necked, graceful brontosaurus. Beloved children’s author Judith Viorst and Caldecott-winning illustrator Lane Smith offer a fresh and funny tale with several surprise endings!
19. Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel
The publisher says: For grades 7–11. From a Printz-Honor-winning author, an absorbing novel about a teen boy whose scientist parents take in a chimpanzee.
20. Ottoline and the Yellow Cat by Chris Riddell
The publisher says: For grades 3–7. Meet Ottoline Brown and her best friend, Mr. Munroe. No puzzle is ever too tricky for the two of them to solve.
21. Moonday by Adam Rex
The publisher says: For grades Preschool–2. What do you do when the moon lowers itself into your backyard? You take the moon for a ride. Adam Rex creates a fantastic tale that is both imaginative and beautiful; one that blurs the line between dreams and reality.
Get Free Bestsellers for Your Ereader
BookBub alerts you to free and discounted ebooks matching your interests.