The Books on Barack Obama’s Summer Reading List (2019)

Pho­to by Pete Souza via

As is his cus­tom, Barack Oba­ma post­ed on Face­book his sum­mer read­ing list, a mix of nov­els, mem­oirs, and instruc­tive non-fic­tion. If you haven’t achieved the per­fect state of tsun­doku, you can get a few new reads for the wan­ing days of sum­mer. Pres­i­dent Oba­ma writes:

It’s August, so I want­ed to let you know about a few books I’ve been read­ing this sum­mer, in case you’re look­ing for some sug­ges­tions. To start, you can’t go wrong by read­ing or re-read­ing the col­lect­ed works of Toni Mor­ri­son. Beloved, Song of Solomon, The Bluest Eye, Sula, every­thing else — they’re tran­scen­dent, all of them. You’ll be glad you read them. And while I’m at it, here are a few more titles you might want to explore:

Some­times dif­fi­cult to swal­low, The Nick­el Boys by Col­son White­head is a nec­es­sary read, detail­ing the way Jim Crow and mass incar­cer­a­tion tore apart lives and wrought con­se­quences that rip­ple into today.

Exha­la­tion by Ted Chi­ang is a col­lec­tion of short sto­ries that will make you think, grap­ple with big ques­tions, and feel more human. The best kind of sci­ence fic­tion.

Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel­’s epic fic­tion­al­ized look at Thomas Cromwell’s rise to pow­er, came out in 2009, but I was a lit­tle busy back then, so I missed it. Still great today.

Haru­ki Murakami’s Men With­out Women exam­ines what hap­pens to char­ac­ters with­out impor­tant women in their lives; it’ll move you and con­fuse you and some­times leave you with more ques­tions than answers.

Amer­i­can Spy by Lau­ren Wilkin­son is a whole lot more than just a spy thriller, wrap­ping togeth­er the ties of fam­i­ly, of love, and of coun­try.

The Shal­lows by Nicholas Carr came out a few years ago, but its argu­ments on the internet’s impact on our brains, our lives, and our com­mu­ni­ties are still wor­thy of reflec­tion, which is some­thing we all could use a lit­tle more of in this age.

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren is a beau­ti­ful­ly writ­ten mem­oir about the life of a woman in sci­ence, a bril­liant friend­ship, and the pro­fun­di­ty of trees. Ter­rif­ic.

Inland by Téa Obre­ht just came out yes­ter­day, so I won’t spoil any­thing. But those of you who’ve been wait­ing for Obreht’s next nov­el won’t be dis­ap­point­ed.

You’ll get a bet­ter sense of the com­plex­i­ty and redemp­tion with­in the Amer­i­can immi­grant sto­ry with Dinaw Mengestu’s nov­el, How to Read the Air.

Maid by Stephanie Land is a sin­gle mother’s per­son­al, unflinch­ing look at America’s class divide, a descrip­tion of the tightrope many fam­i­lies walk just to get by, and a reminder of the dig­ni­ty of all work.

POTUS’ pre­vi­ous lists of rec­om­mend­ed books can be found in the Relat­eds below.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

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

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

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