Barack Obama Shares His Summer 2019 Book List That He Recommends to Read

Mary Scott
Aug 15, 2019
11:05 A.M.

Former President Barack Obama is keeping up with tradition this August as he shares his 2019 Summer reading list. He paid tribute to such literary figures as Colson Whitehead and the recently-deceased Toni Morrison.


Obama, 58, took to Facebook yesterday with a long list of the books he’s been reading this summer. Cutting across a wide range of topics and authors from various backgrounds, the politician’s pick addresses issues like immigration, race, love, and class division, among others.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama at a Town Hall-styled session on Apr. 06, 2019 in Berlin, Germany | Photo: Getty Images

Former U.S. President Barack Obama at a Town Hall-styled session on Apr. 06, 2019 in Berlin, Germany | Photo: Getty Images


Obama wrote:

“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.”

Former U.S. President Barack Obama at a Town Hall-styled session on Apr. 06, 2019 in Berlin, Germany | Photo: Getty Images

Former U.S. President Barack Obama at a Town Hall-styled session on Apr. 06, 2019 in Berlin, Germany | Photo: Getty Images


The former POTUS began the list with a recommendation for “the collected works of Toni Morrison,” assuring fans they can’t go wrong with “reading or re-reading” such masterpieces like “Beloved,” “Song of Solomon,” and “The Bluest Eye.”

Morrison, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, passed away on August 5. She was 88.


Other books that made it to Obama’s list include:

“The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead

Whitehead’s 2019 novel, which Obama describes as “sometimes difficult to swallow” and “a necessary read,” explores the effects of the Jim Crow era and mass incarceration on people’s lives and how families still feel the impact till this day.

“Exhalation” by Ted Chiang

In this 2019 collection of short stories, Chiang poses poignant questions to the reader. According to Obama, the book “will make you think, grapple with big questions, and feel more human.”


“Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel

Mantel’s fictional reimagining of Thomas Cromwell’s rise to power in sixteenth-century England was released in 2009, but Obama was “busy back then.” “Still great today,” the former president confirmed.

“Men Without Women” by Haruki Murakami

In “Men Without Women,” Japanese writer Murakami uses a collection of short stories to examine the plight of men lacking meaningful relationships with women. “It'll move you and confuse you and sometimes leave you with more questions than answers,” Obama reveals of the 2014 book.


“American Spy” by Lauren Wilkinson

Wilkinson’s 2019 spy thriller explores the themes of family, love, and country and how they all tie into the life of a black female FBI intelligence officer during the Cold War in 1986.

“The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains” by Nicholas Carr

Carr’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated book examines the impact of the internet on human brains, lives, and communities. The arguments put forth in the 2010 book, according to Obama, “are still worthy of reflection, which is something we all could use a little more of in this age.”


“Lab Girl” by Hope Jahren

Writes Obama of the 2016 memoir: “[It] 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

Released on August 13, Obama avoided giving spoilers on Obreht’s novel but guaranteed that “those of you who’ve been waiting for Obreht’s next novel won’t be disappointed.”


“How to Read the Air” by Dinaw Mengestu

Mengestu’s 2010 novel, according to Obama, offers “a better sense of the complexity and redemption within the American immigrant story.”

“Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay And A Mother’s Will To Survive” by Stephanie Land

Land’s 2019 memoir 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.”

There you have it. The 11 books former President Obama has been reading this summer. Which one will you be reading?

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