Barack Obama’s Summer Reading List

In uncertain times, we look to the familiar things, and this past week, it was great to see a  summer reading from President Barack Obama. One of our most literary presidents, and a prolific reader and writer, he began a tradition of posting his summer list while at the White House. And happily, he’s continued the tradition this year.

As President Obama told Michiko Kakutani in 2017, his childhood was spent immersed in books:

I loved reading when I was a kid, partly because I was traveling so much, and there were times where I’d be displaced, I’d be the outsider.

He’s also said that he “rediscovered writing and reading and thinking” in his early college years, and those formative years of intense reading proved fruitful. He’s noted that reading during that time

reintroduced me to the power of words as a way to figure out who you are and what you think, and what you believe, and what’s important, and to sort through and interpret this swirl of events that is happening around you every minute.

Posting on Facebook last Sunday, Obama wrote, “One of my favorite parts of summer is deciding what to read when things slow down just a bit, whether it’s on a vacation with family or just a quiet afternoon,” and for 2018, he’s made some great choices.

In the past, the President’s picks have ranged from history to poetry to literary fiction like Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies. This year’s list runs from an acclaimed memoir to a favorite covered here at LitStack. Check out the list, and you might discover your current or future favorite read.

From Barack Obama’s Facebook page:

Image result for Westover, Educated“Tara Westover’s Educated is a remarkable memoir of a young woman raised in a survivalist family in Idaho who strives for education while still showing great understanding and love for the world she leaves behind.

Set after WWII, Warlight by Michael Ondaatje is a meditation on the lingering effects of war on family.

With the recent passing of V.S. Naipaul, I reread A House for Mr Biswas, the Nobel Prize winner’s first great novel about growing up in Trinidad and the challenge of post-colonial identity. Image result for an american marriage

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones is a moving portrayal of the effects of a wrongful conviction on a young African-American couple.

Factfulness by Hans Rosling, an outstanding international public health expert, is a hopeful book about the potential for human progress when we work off facts rather than our inherent biases.”

Read Michiko Kakutani’s interview with Barack Obama on books and his reading life here.

—Lauren Alwan

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