The president who boasts of having no time to read books has found a way to make use of them (the green ones, anyway): turn them into a very large holiday decoration. Photos of the White House library decked out for the holidays show an unusual selection of (mostly green) books organized into the shape of a Christmas tree. Constructed beneath the chandelier once owned by James Fenimore Cooper, this literary Tannenbaum has lofty aspirations.
The books were purchased especially for their decorative value, “based on their varieties of green color tones,” according to Stephanie Grisham, director of communications for first lady Melania Trump. “The concept for the color of the room was red and green, hence the green books and red ribbons.” This palette is meant “to highlight FDR’s personal copy of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ which is bound in red leather and loaned from the FDR presidential library in Hyde Park, New York,” she added.
But you know what they say about choosing a book by its cover — or in this case, by the color of its cover.
The titles that make up President Trump’s holiday book tree are a perplexing assortment. “Holding Up the Earth” (2000) is a teen novel about five generations of women whose tales come together in a “story quilt.” “Sangoma” is a memoir of a former Eagle Scout from Illinois who moves to Swaziland to become a spiritual healer. “Developing Superior Work Teams” seems like a book the president might want to at least skim. “American Mourning,” an academic study of how public mourning shapes politics “and might be employed to shape our future outcomes,” seems an unusual choice, given the public mood.
Less odd, perhaps, are “World of Golf” and the thriller “Tainted Evidence.” Same goes for James Patterson’s “Cat & Mouse.”
Highlighting books in holiday decorations is a lovely tradition. But then again, so is reading them.
Nora Krug is an editor and writer at Book World.