In between the nationally hyped Black Friday and Cyber Monday, some Americans did their holiday shopping at locally owned stores on Small Business Saturday. Among those supporting smaller, non-corporate businesses was President Obama, who, along with daughters Sasha and Malia, picked up 17 books at Washington bookstore Politics and Prose.
The president and the first teens selected a wide range of books, including titles for both children and adults. Two of this year’s National Book Award winners left the store with the family: Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir in verse “Brown Girl Dreaming,” which won for young people’s literature, and Evan Osnos’ “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China,” the nonfiction winner.
The president also bought Anthony Doerr’s critically acclaimed “All the Light We Cannot See” and Denis Johnson’s new “The Laughing Monsters.” There was one bona fide classic in the mix too: Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.”
Sasha and Malia left with some books of their own, including two titles from Barbara Park’s popular “Junie B. Jones” series and three of Brian Jacques’ “Redwall” young adult fantasy books.
It wasn’t all fun for the first family. The president was asked by one customer when he would close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp (Obama replied that he’s “working on that”). When it came time to pay, he jokingly asked for a discount, as he’s a “neighbor” of the store.
There’s one book that didn’t go home with the family: Chuck Todd’s “The Stranger: Barack Obama in the White House,” which is highly critical of the president.
Claire Kirch at Publishers Weekly noted that Obama and his daughters passed a display of the books: “Obama’s older daughter, Malia, noted that her father looked ‘sad’ on the cover, while he described himself as looking ‘lonely.’”