President Obama Names His Favorite Books, Movies & Songs of 2018

Photo by Pete Souza via

On Facebook this morning, President Obama wrote: “As 2018 draws to a close, I’m continuing a favorite tradition of mine and sharing my year-end lists. It gives me a moment to pause and reflect on the year through the books, movies, and music that I found most thought-provoking, inspiring, or just plain loved. It also gives me a chance to highlight talented authors, artists, and storytellers – some who are household names and others who you may not have heard of before. Here’s my best of 2018 list – I hope you enjoy reading, watching, and listening.” Note that you can hear all of the music on this Spotify playlist.

Books That Pres. Obama Read This Year:

Becoming by Michelle Obama (obviously my favorite!)
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects the Way We Think, Live, and Die by Keith Payne
Educated by Tara Westover
Factfulness by Hans Rosling
Futureface: A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging by Alex Wagner
A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiong’o
A House for Mr Biswas by V.S. Naipaul
How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt
In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History by Mitch Landrieu
Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti
The Return by Hisham Matar
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Warlight by Michael Ondaatje
Why Liberalism Failed by Patrick Deneen
The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes

Favorite Books of 2018:

American Prison by Shane Bauer
Arthur Ashe: A Life by Raymond Arsenault
Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday
Feel Free by Zadie Smith
Florida by Lauren Groff
Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight
Immigrant, Montana by Amitava Kumar
The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson
Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark
There There by Tommy Orange
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Favorite Movies of 2018:

Black Panther
The Death of Stalin
Eighth Grade
If Beale Street Could Talk
Leave No Trace
Minding the Gap
The Rider
Support the Girls
Won’t You Be My Neighbor

Favorite Songs of 2018

Apes••t by The Carters
Bad Bad News by Leon Bridges
Could’ve Been by H.E.R. (feat. Bryson Tiller)
Disco Yes by Tom Misch (feat. Poppy Ajudha)
Ekombe by Jupiter & Okwess
Every Time I Hear That Song by Brandi Carlile
Girl Goin’ Nowhere by Ashley McBryde
Historia De Un Amor by Tonina (feat. Javier Limón and Tali Rubinstein)
I Like It by Cardi B (feat. Bad Bunny and J Balvin)
Kevin’s Heart by J. Cole
King For A Day by Anderson East
Love Lies by Khalid & Normani
Make Me Feel by Janelle Monáe
Mary Don’t You Weep (Piano & A Microphone 1983 Version) by Prince
My Own Thing by Chance the Rapper (feat. Joey Purp)
Need a Little Time by Courtney Barnett
Nina Cried Power by Hozier (feat. Mavis Staples)
Nterini by Fatoumata Diawara
One Trick Ponies by Kurt Vile
Turnin’ Me Up by BJ the Chicago Kid
Wait by the River by Lord Huron
Wow Freestyle by Jay Rock (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
And in honor of one of the great jazz singers of all time, who died this year, a classic album: The Great American Songbook by Nancy Wilson

You can find all of these song neatly listed in a playlist here on Spotify.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newsletter, please find it here.

If you would like to support the mission of Open Culture, consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere. You can contribute through PayPal, Patreon, and Venmo (@openculture). Thanks!

Related Content:

The Books on Barack Obama’s Summer Reading List: Naipaul, Ondaatje & More

Barack Obama Shares a List of Enlightening Books Worth Reading

The 5 Books on President Obama’s 2016 Summer Reading List

A Free POTUS Summer Playlist: Pres. Obama Curates 39 Songs for a Summer Day

by | Permalink | Comments (16) |

Support Open Culture

We’re hoping to rely on our loyal readers rather than erratic ads. To support Open Culture’s educational mission, please consider making a donation. We accept PayPal, Venmo (@openculture), Patreon and Crypto! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (16)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Ray Balson says:

    Kept scrolling down, but I didn’t see a list of President Trump’s favorite books or music from 2018. Did I miss that post?

  • Brad smith says:

    Who gives a rodents rump what that waste if skin thinks?

  • Damien Forbes says:

    Assuming he can read, we know THe Lorax by Dr. Suess is not on his list.

  • A.R. says:

    Is the book ‘How to torture whistleblowers’ on his list? He sure was good at that- even the UN had to slap him on the wrist there. Also, looks like ‘How to fast-track shady trade deals- TPP Edition’ is missing as well. Those are essential Obama pieces, to be topped off with, ‘How to be a Black President for two terms yet still call the country racist.’

  • Bill W. says:

    “Curious George Bombs Seven Countries” wasn’t on his list?

  • Ray Balson says:

    Exactly, Bill. Only President in the history of the U. S. to be at war with at least one nation every single day for eight years.

  • Brian C Gay says:

    When there is an article about Obama on Openculture, I know it is going to be warm and fuzzy. When there is an article on America, religion, and Conservative values, it is going to be a hit piece.

  • Michael says:

    Brian, The author’s commentary consisted of exactly this:

    “On Facebook this morning, President Obama wrote: ”


    “Note that you can hear all of the music on this Spotify playlist.”

    Very warm and fuzzy!

  • Karen says:

    He hasn’t been president for a few years… Are you celebrating New Years a little early?

  • Luke says:

    Who cares what this Marxist, American-hating globalist thinks.

  • Marissa says:

    Since when did a simple list of books, music and films become so offensive to people?

    Don’t you guys think you’re going a bit overboard here?


  • Bethany Meyer says:

    Here’s a list of Trump’s favorite books from 2018:

  • Donna West says:

    Why are y’all getting all bent out of shape over a former president s comments on books and entertainment? It isn’t a political or partisan issue. And why isn’t a Trump list published? Seriously? Unless it’s a book or movie about him, he isn’t interested. Who would care anyway?q

  • Kelly says:

    IKR! I can’t wait to listen to it.

  • Jão Fiorot says:

    I suppose reading this commentary section was THE mistake of my night

  • kyle says:

    There’s no list like a Kill List.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.