Barack Obama, the former president who’s demonstrated a fine taste in pop culture—unlike that other guy who just fast-forwards through Bloodsport—has officially released his summer reading list for 2019. Using the presidential platform of Facebook, Obama posted a list of his recommendations based on books he read over this past season, with small descriptions and a little blurb on each novel.
For you TL;DR folks (who will undoubtedly have trouble reading any of these books if reading a Facebook post is too long for you), here’s a condensed version of the list posted on Instagram.
Obama begins his recommendation list by urging everyone to catch up with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, who peacefully passed away at the beginning of this month. He mentions her novels Beloved, Song of Solomon, The Bluest Eye, and Sula, although Morrison’s cohesive body of work is certainly not limited to those masterworks of fiction.
He also recommends (as do we) The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, which details how Jim Crow-era laws and mass incarceration in America still affect the lives of many today. Exhalation, written by Arrival author Ted Chiang, is also on his list (and ours) as “the best kind of science fiction” that grapples with major questions in a human manner. The 2009 Man Booker-Prize winning fictionalized retelling of Oliver Cromwell’s rise to power in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall compelled Obama this year, despite its release a decade ago.
Obama also cooly recommends Haruki Murakami’s Men Without Women, Lauren Wilkinson’s American Spy, The Shallows (nothing to with that shark movie) by Nicholas Carr, Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl, Inland by Téa Obreht and Maid by Stephanie Land. Most notably, he recommends How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu for a better glimpse into the American immigrant story, while barely giving any details on the book as to not spoil its heavy punches.
Those are a lot of book of recommendations, but if you’ve got the free time and drive, take a page from Obama’s book and check one out at your local public library.