This month, for a fourth summer, President Barack Obama will vacation on Martha's Vineyard. What will he read during his down time? That, too, has become something of a summer ritual. On his two most recent trips, Mr. Obama has made a pilgrimage to the Bunch of Grapes bookstore to pick up some books, the names of which, inevitably, find their way into the media, where they are dissected and debated by his allies and critics alike. Mr. Obama's summer choices have included Daniel Woodrell's 'The Bayou Trilogy' and Ward Just's 'Rodin's Debutante' in 2011 and Jonathan Franzen's 'Freedom' in 2010.
本月，美国总统奥巴马(Barack Obama)将第四次在马撒葡萄园岛(Martha's Vineyard)度过夏日假期。他在休假期间会读些什么？这也成为了某种夏日仪式。在最近的两次旅行之前，奥巴马都曾光顾Bunch of Grapes书店，选购了一些书，这些书的名字不可避免地进入了媒体的视线，被他的支持者和批评者仔细剖析和讨论。奥巴马2011年的夏日读物包括丹尼尔•伍德瑞尔(Daniel Woodrell)的《海湾三部曲》(The Bayou Trilogy)和沃德•贾斯特(Ward Just)的《罗丹的初次亮相》(Rodin's Debutante)，2010年他选择了乔纳森•弗兰岑(Jonathan Franzen)的《自由》(Freedom)。
For authors, the presidential imprimatur provides priceless publicity. 'Freedom, ' in particular, caught a wave. At the time of Mr. Obama's visit to Martha's Vineyard in 2010, the novel had yet to be officially released, but Mr. Obama obtained an early copy from the store, adding to the book's cachet and, as Politico's Karin Tanabe wrote, setting the 'Web atwitter.' The book shot up the best-seller lists. Only Oprah, it seems, provides a bigger sales bump.
对作者来说，总统的认可提供了无价的宣传。尤其是《自由》，它掀起了一股风潮。在2010年奥巴马造访马撒葡萄园岛时，这本小说尚未正式上市，但奥巴马从书店拿到了一本样书，这令该书声名鹊起，正如Politico 的卡琳•塔纳贝(Karin Tanabe)所写，这“给网络打了针兴奋剂”。这本书在畅销书排行榜上迅速攀升。看起来只有奥普拉(Oprah)的的影响力勘与媲美了。
Mr. Franzen liked the attention, to be sure, but he also wondered if reading fiction was the best use of presidential time. As he told an audience at the Hay Festival in Colombia: '[W]hen I heard he was reading 'Freedom' I thought, 'Why are you reading a novel? There are important things to be doing!' '
Mr. Obama is far from the most voracious presidential reader. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were among the best-read people on the continent in their day. Abraham Lincoln read a great deal as a youth, albeit from a limited library, and his reading helped to propel him from his obscure origins.
奥巴马不是最嗜好读书的总统。约翰•亚当斯(John Adams)和托马斯•杰斐逊(Thomas Jefferson)都位居他们所处那个时代美国最爱读书的人之列。亚伯拉罕•林肯(Abraham Lincoln)年轻时从图书馆借阅了很多书（尽管那座图书馆的藏书有限），他读的书帮助他从一个名不见经传的小人物成长为后来的大人物。
Teddy Roosevelt was also addicted to the printed word, observing that 'reading with me is a disease.' He could polish off two or three books a day even while serving as president, and woe betide the bore who failed to hold the president's attention in a White House meeting. If not engaged by his interlocutor, Roosevelt was prone to pick up a book and start reading.
Among modern presidential readers, Harry Truman ranks near the top. Despite being the last president not to have attended college, he was a tremendous autodidact, especially in history. He once said that 'The only thing new in the world is the history you don't know.' His daughter Margaret quipped that, if the world were about to end, Truman would 'not look up until he got to the bottom of the page he was reading.'
In recent years, nonstop coverage of the White House has led reporters to pay careful attention to presidential vacation reading. The shelves of the California ranch house where Ronald Reagan took his holidays were filled with books, from Westerns to works of conservative thought. George H.W. Bush, widely seen as a nonreader, recounted that his 1991 vacation plans included 'a good deal of tennis, a good deal of horseshoes, a good deal of fishing, a good deal of running─and some reading. I have to throw that in there for the intellectuals out there.'
近年来，对白宫的不间断报道导致记者们非常留意总统的假期读物。罗纳德•里根(Ronald Reagan)度假的加州牧场住宅的书架上放满了图书，从西部小说到思想保守作者的作品，应有尽有。乔治•H•W•布什(George H.W. Bush)被普遍认为是不读书的人，他说自己1991年的假期计划包括“打许多场网球、骑许多次马、钓许多鱼、跑很多步──和读一些书。我必须这么说给外面的文化人听”。
Bill Clinton read so much on vacation and during the rest of the year that the journalist Elizabeth Renzetti joked, '[R]emember Bill Clinton saying that Max Weber was his summer reading? No wonder college girls threw themselves at him.' George W. Bush was a more serious reader than his cowboy image suggested. His vacation reading one summer included 'Salt' by Mark Kurlansky, 'Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar' by Edvard Radzinsky and 'The Great Influenza' by John Barry. The Barry book in particular left a strong imprint on Mr. Bush. After reading it, he pushed his administration to develop a comprehensive influenza plan.
比尔•克林顿(Bill Clinton)在假期和其他时间读的书都非常多，以至于记者伊丽莎白•伦泽蒂(Elizabeth Renzetti)打趣道：“记得比尔•克林顿说他的夏日读物里包括马克斯•韦伯(Max Weber)的书吗？难怪大学女生们会向他投怀送抱。”乔治•W•布什(George W. Bush)的牛仔形象给了我们一种错觉，以为他不会是一位严肃的读者，其实不然。他在某个夏日假期的读物包括马克•科兰斯基(Mark Kurlansky)的《盐》(Salt)、爱德华•拉津斯基(Edvard Radzinsky)的《亚历山大二世：最后一位伟大的沙皇》（Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar）和约翰•巴里(John Barry)的《大流感》(The Great Influenza)。巴里的书给布什留下了尤为强烈的印象，读完这本书后，他推动内阁制定了一个全面的流感防治计划。
Political theatrics aside, the modern presidency is an enormously taxing position, and we have to be realistic about how much reading a president can accomplish in August or any other month. Mr. Obama himself cast doubt on his reputation as a reader when he admitted that, as president, 'you have very little chance to really read. I basically floss my teeth and watch SportsCenter.'
At another point, in explaining that he probably wouldn't read Sarah Palin's autobiography, Mr. Obama told CNN's Ed Henry, 'I don't get a chance to read things other than briefing books very often these days anyway.' It was a deft evasion─but also a revealing window into the competing priorities that all presidents face, even the bookish ones.
还有一次，当奥巴马说明他可能不会读萨拉•佩林(Sarah Palin)的自传时，他告诉CNN的埃德•亨利(Ed Henry)：“最近除了经常看简报，我没有机会阅读。”这是个巧妙的托词──但也让我们了解到所有总统，甚至是酷爱读书的总统的优先选择。