5 Books Barack Obama’s Been Reading (and Loving) Lately
Former U.S. President Barack Obama knows a thing or two about noteworthy books. In fact, he often turned to them for solace during his presidency. “The ability to slow down and get perspective, along with the ability to get in somebody else’s shoes — those two things have been invaluable to me,” Obama said of his love for reading in a New York Times interview in 2017. Post-presidency, Obama is still an avid reader, and he’s even here with some recs.
In a Facebook post shared over the weekend, Obama spotlighted a handful of non-fiction books on topics like economics and political philosophy (you know, books to feed your brain), writing, “I’m often asked what I’m reading, watching, and listening to, so I thought I might share a short list from time to time. There’s so much good writing and art and variety of thought out there these days that this is by no means comprehensive — like many of you, I’ll miss The Americans — but here’s what I’ve been reading lately.”
Related: The Best Books Based in Every State
Scroll through to see Obama’s book recommendations, and then call up your book club, because these aren’t ones to miss.
'Futureface: A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging' by Alex Wagner
Obama turned to this book while on the search for self-discovery, sharing on Facebook, "I once wrote a book on my own search for identity, so I was curious to see what Alex, daughter of a Burmese mother and Iowan Irish-Catholic father – and a friend of mine – discovered during her own. What she came up with is a thoughtful, beautiful meditation on what makes us who we are – the search for harmony between our own individual identities and the values and ideals that bind us together as Americans."
To buy: amazon.com, starting at $14
'The New Geography of Jobs' by Enrico Moretti
Here University of California Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti investigates the relationship between location and economics, exploring why some U.S. cities prosper while others wither.
Obama writes, "It’s six years old now, but still a timely and smart discussion of how different cities and regions have made a changing economy work for them – and how policymakers can learn from that to lift the circumstances of working Americans everywhere."
To buy: amazon.com, starting at $10
'Why Liberalism Failed' by Patrick J. Deneen
University of Notre Dame political philosophy professor Patrick Deneen argues that "liberalism is built on a foundation of contradictions," and is "a system whose success is generating its own failure." While Obama admittedly doesn't agree with the author's conclusions, he finds the book "thought-provoking," writing, "The book offers cogent insights into the loss of meaning and community that many in the West feel, issues that liberal democracies ignore at their own peril."
To buy: amazon.com, starting at $15
'In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History' by Mitch Landrieu
In addition to his efforts to remove Confederate monuments from New Orleans, Mayor Mitch Landrieu confronts racial divisions in the American South in his 2018 book, "In the Shadow of Statues."
Obama shares a personal memory with regards to the book: "A few years ago, I eulogized the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who was slain by a white supremacist in his church in Charleston, South Carolina. And I’ll never forget something Clem said while he was alive: 'Across the South, we have a deep appreciation of history. We haven’t always had a deep appreciation of each other’s history.' That’s something Mitch takes to heart in this book, while grappling with some of the most painful parts of our history and how they still live in the present. It’s an ultimately optimistic take from someone who believes the South will rise again not by reasserting the past, but by transcending it."
To buy: amazon.com, starting at $13
'Truth Decay: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life' by Jennifer Kavanagh and Michael D. Rich
In the 2018 book "Truth Decay," authors Jennifer Kavanagh and Michael Rich explore society's diminishing pursuit of truth and facts. Obama writes, "The title is self-explanatory, but the findings are very interesting. A look at how a selective sorting of facts and evidence isn’t just dishonest, but self-defeating to a society that has always worked best when reasoned debate and practical problem-solving thrive."
To buy: amazon.com, starting at $8