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Obama's vacation reading picks: How do they stack up?

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A confession: I just returned from a lovely two-week vacation, and I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t pick up one single book during my time off — not even while spending hours planted in a beach chair with nothing to look at but the Atlantic Ocean and elaborate gold jewelry of my fellow Jersey Shore vacationers. But since a good portion of my job entails burying myself in a book, I figured I deserved the break, right? Right? Well, I feel ever more ashamed of myself after discovering that President Obama packed five books in his suitcase for his Martha Vineyard vacay. And this is a man whose 9-5 involves, you know, trying to save the world and stuff.

But let’s look at his list to make sure our prez is being swayed in the right direction at his local Barnes & Noble. According to deputy press secretary Bill Burton, Obama brought along George Pelecanos’ 2009 novel The Way Home; Tom Friedman’s 2008 environmental manifesto Hot, Flat, and Crowded; Richard Price’s 2008 thriller Lush Life; Kent Haruf’s 1999 novel Plainsong; and David McCullough’s 2001 biography John Adams. I have to say, I’m impressed with Obama’s attention to fiction — presidents like George W. Bush tended to focus on nonfiction titles like James L. Swanson’s Manhunt and David Halberstam’s The Coldest Winter. Or so says Karl Rove, who last year wrote in the Wall Street Journal about his yearly reading contest with the then-president — Rove won every time.

Tell me, how does Obama’s vacation reading stack up against your own? Do you applaud his beach-reading choices, or should he have thrown in a Nicholas Sparks novel like seemingly everyone else on my beach?

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