top of page
  • NYS Writers Institute

Here's what one former president is reading this summer. What's on your list?

"Whether you're camped out on the beach or curled up on the couch on a rainy day, there's nothing quite like sitting down with a great book in the summer."

Barack Obama on Instagram.

Former President Barack Obama shared his summer reading list a few days ago, continuing a wonderful tradition he started during his White House days.

More than 500,000 likes and 6,000 comments on his Twitter and Instagram give us sunny optimism that readers embrace our over-too-soon summer months with gusto.

Recognize some names? In 2005, we brought Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day) to Albany for an event at the State Museum. And in 2007 Elizabeth Kolbert visited us on the UAlbany campus to talk about her book Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change.

What are you reading this summer? Share a title and your blurb in the comments.

We asked Writers Institute Director Paul Grondahl to kick things off. He shared two summer reads:


By Russell Banks

"Russell is a longtime friend of Bill Kennedy and the Writers Institute. I’ve interviewed him many times and I’ll read anything that he writes. He is one of our great American novelists.

I’m excited to dive into his latest, Foregone, a deep character study of Leonard Fife, a documentary filmmaker who fled to Canada to avoid serving in Vietnam. In his 70s, dying of cancer and living in Montreal, Fife comes to an unflinching reckoning of his secret life and curated collection of lies as his wife and film collaborator observes while the camera rolls in a richly layered narrative."

The Vanishing Point

By Elizabeth Brundage

"Elizabeth is an Albany novelist who is drawing raves for this one, her fifth novel, a literary thriller that focuses on a love triangle and the fragile egos of three fine arts photographers whose lives became intertwined in a photography workshop.

The novel is set in Albany, Hudson and New York City and addresses the theme of the opioid epidemic in a young man in Albany – a son of two photographers -- who got pulled down by addiction beginning in middle school. Brundage writes with an assured power and creates memorable and moving characters. Also, Brundage’s previous novel, All Things Cease to Appear, has been adapted into a film streaming on Netflix, and re-titled Things Heard & Seen. It stars Amanda Seyfried, James Norton and F. Murray Abraham. The movie is earning Brundage new fans."

We encourage our friends to do their shopping at local, independent booksellers.


bottom of page