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Obama's Beach Reading: "Freedom" By Jonathan Franzen

Obama's Beach Reading: "Freedom" By Jonathan Franzen

By Scott Conroy - August 20, 2010


On his first full day of vacation in Martha's Vineyard, President Obama's motorcade made its way down Main Street in the port town of Vineyard Haven where the president browsed inside Bunch of Grapes bookstore with daughters Malia and Sasha.

Obama walked out with the new Jonathan Franzen title, Freedom.

The book's title may sound like a political tome, but it is actually a character-driven literary novel about a family in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Freedom made Amazon's "Best of the Month" list and earned a star review from Publisher's Weekly. It is already one of Amazon's top-ten most popular titles as of Friday morning, and the presidential publicity isn't likely to hurt the book's chances for publishing success.

This is actually not the first time that Franzen has benefited from a high-profile validation. Oprah Winfrey, perhaps one of the few people on the planet whose endorsement of a book can have an even bigger effect than the president's, selected his 2001 novel The Corrections for her book club.

Franzen later declined to appear on Oprah's show, generating even more media attention, and The Corrections went on to become one of the bestselling literary novels of the decade.

The Associated Press reported that the cashier at Bunch of Grapes said that the president also purchased To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Red Pony by John Steinbeck, perhaps summer reading titles for his young daughters.

Hundreds of vacationers stood behind yellow tape in Vineyard Haven to catch a glimpse of the president, who was dressed in jeans and sandals.

Residents and tourists on Martha's Vineyard are no strangers to presidential visits, as President Clinton made multiple trips to the island during and after his presidency. Obama also vacationed there last summer.

Obama has no public events scheduled during his stay on the quaint Massachusetts island. On Friday afternoon, he headed to Edgartown to play hit the links at Vineyard Golf Club.

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at sconroy@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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