Barack Obama officially left the White House on January 20, 2017. For the 8 years he was president, he not only served as Commander in Chief but also commander in books! Literature, he said, played a significant role during his presidency. He has continually proven that he is an avid reader through;
- Reading to kids at the White House
- Giving book recommendations to his daughters
- Showing up at local bookstores on Black Friday.
The following are the books he recommended for his teen daughter Malia at 18.
- The Woman Warrior – Maxine Hong Kingston
- The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing
- The Naked and the Dead – Norman Mailer
- One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Obama as a Bookie supports small businesses. On one of his trips to the bookstore with his daughters, he left with several shopping bags packed with the following fiction titles;
- Redwall – Brian Jacques. This is a fantasy series
- Brown Girl Dreaming – Jacqueline Woodson
- Junie B. Jones series – Brian Jacques
- Heart of darkness – Joseph Conrad. The only classic that made the list!
- All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
- Nora Webster – Colm Toibin
- The Laughing Monsters – Denis Johnson.
- Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms – Katherine Rundell
- The Narrow Road to the Deep North – Richard Flanagan
- Nuts to You – Lynn Rae Perkins
The Nonfiction Titles.
- Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China – Evan Osnos
- Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End – Dr. Atul Gawande
Obama’s Childhood Favorite Books
Reading for most bookies starts when they are kids. It is a habit that one has to cultivate. Just like Obama, you should cultivate your reading culture. It’s never too late to get smarter! Back in the day, Obama enjoyed read the following;
- Hardy Boys series. Didn’t we all read and love these?
- Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
- Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak
- Other adventure stories by authors such as Dr. Seuss.
While he was in high school, he enjoyed reading;
- Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
- The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Obama’s Summer Reading List
If you always struggle to decide what to read next, Obama has got your back! Every year he releases a list of his favourite reads. In 2016, he released this list that we still feel is relevant to date!
- Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life – William Finnegan
- H is for Hawk – Helen Macdonald
- The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
- Seveneves – Neal Stephenson.
And in case you are wondering, here is what made the cut in 2015;
- All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
- The Sixth Extinction – Elizabeth Kolbert
- The Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri
- Between the World and Me – Te-Nehisi Coates
- Washington: A Life – Ron Chernow
- All that Is – James Salter.
Of course, he has his most influential books;
- All the Kings Men – Robert Pen Warren
- Theory of Moral Sentiments – Adam Smith
- Wealth of Nations – Adam Smith
- Working – Studs Terkel
- Gandhi’s Autobiography
- Cancer Ward – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
- The Quiet American – Graham Greene
- Moby Dick – Herman Melville
- Self-Reliance – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Song of Solomon – Toni Morrison
- Parting the Waters – Taylor Branch
- Gilead – Marylinne Robinson
- Best and the Brightest – David Halberstam
- The Federalist – Alexander Hamilton
- Souls of Black Folk – W.E.B Du Bois
- The Power and The Glory – Graham Greene
For those who appreciate Poetry and well-written novels, he’s got you covered. Here are important life lessons about novels from him that will motivate you to visit the bookstore;
- ‘Novels introduces you 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.’
- The thing that brings people together to have the courage to take action on behalf of their lives is not just that they care about the same issues, it’s that they have shared stories.
- If you learn how to listen to people’s stories and can learn what’s sacred in other people’s stories, then you’ll be able to forge a relationship that lasts.
The list that brought about these sentiments? Here you go.
- Cutting for tone – Abraham Verghese
- To the End of the Land – David Grossman
- Purity – Jonathan Franzen
- A bend in the River – V.S Naipau
- Fates and Furies – Lauren Groff
- Lush Life – Richard Price
- Netherland – Joseph O’neil
- Collected poems – Derek Walcott
- Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
- Harry Potter series – J.K Rowling.
What did other Presidents read?
Leaders always read books that other leaders read. Here is a list that Obama borrowed from former presidents;
- The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt – Edmund Morris
- John Adams – David McCullough
- Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer – Fred Kaplan
- Defining Moment: FDR’S Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope – Jonathan Alte.
- FDR – Jean Edward Smith
- The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln
- Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln – Doris Kearns Goodwin
If you fancy economic and environmental related topics, these 4 recommendations will make you as knowledgeable as Obama!
- Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America – Thomas L Friedman
- Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 – Steve Coll
- Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age – Larry Bartels.
- The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York – Robert a. Caro
You might not want to be Obama. Or the next president of the United States. But you definitely need some life hacks. Reading as many books as you can will give you the advantage of having a solution to most of your life’s problems. Grab a book and see you on the smart side of town!