The 5 books you have to read this summer, according to Barack Obama

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Kayleigh Dray
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Barack Obama really wants you to read these soul-soothing books

The former president really wants us all to read these soul-soothing books.

Barack Obama may not be president anymore, but he still holds a very special place in many people’s hearts. And so, when the Harvard Law graduate and published author posted a list of the books he’s been reading this summer to Facebook, everyone on got very excited.

“One of my favourite parts of summer is deciding what to read when things slow down just a bit,” Obama wrote. “Whether it’s on a vacation with family or just a quiet afternoon. This summer I’ve been absorbed by new novels, revisited an old classic, and reaffirmed my faith in our ability to move forward together when we seek the truth.”

The first book on his list is Educated by Tara Westover, which Obama describes as 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”.

His next recommendation is Warlight by Michael Ondaatje. Set in post-World War II London, this tome offers a “meditation on the lingering effects of war on family” as it follows the story of two British children who are left in the care of a mysterious stranger.

Following the recent death of V. S. Naipaul, Obama has also reread A House for Mr. Biswas. The 1961 novel, which was written early in Naipaul’s career, is set in Trinidad and discusses “the challenge of post-colonial identity,” according to Obama’s post.

The fourth entry on Obama’s list is An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, a “moving” novel which chronicles the lives of a young African-American couple dealing with the husband’s incarceration due to a wrongful conviction.

The final book on Obama’s list? Factfulness by Hans Rosling, whom the former POTUS describes as “an outstanding international public health expert”. And, in what appears to be a nod to our current era of fake news, Obama notes that Factfulness “is a hopeful book about the potential for human progress when we work off facts rather than our inherent biases”.

Obama has always had an important relationship with books: indeed, he recently revealed that he has always made a point of reading fiction – even when he was busy with, y’know, being president.

He said: “It was important to pick up the occasional novel during the presidency, because most of my reading every day was briefing books and memos and proposals. And so working that very analytical side of the brain all the time sometimes meant you lost track of not just the poetry of fiction, but also the depth of fiction.

“Fiction was useful as a reminder of the truths under the surface of what we argue about every day and was a way of seeing and hearing the voices, the multitudes of this country.”

Obama added: “There’s something particular about quieting yourself and having a sustained stretch of time that is different from music or television or even the greatest movies.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Image: Getty


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.