> Zed Book Club / Barack Obama Shares His Favourite Books From 2020

Barack Obama's list of favourite reads has something for everyone, from the non-fiction fan to sci-fi enthusiast. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

> Buzz

Barack Obama Shares His Favourite Books From 2020

/ BY Judy Gerstel / December 21st, 2020

Former U.S. president Barack Obama knows about great books. His third best-selling memoir, The Promised Land, was published last month and immediately topped the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list. “He is a polished writer, with a novelist’s skill in describing a place or a person and framing a scene,” The LA Times noted in its 1995 review of his first memoir, Dreams From My Father.

Obama’s 2020 list of 17 favourite books includes non-fiction, literary fiction and even a sci-fi novel, The Ministry For The Future by Kim Stanley Robinson, about climate change.

“Setting aside being president, and the most important set of understandings that I bring to that position of citizen, the most important stuff I’ve learned I think I’ve learned from novels,” he said in an interview published in The New York Review of Books in 2015.

Among his 2020 picks:

The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson’s portrait of Winston Churchill;

Memorial Drive, Natasha Trethewey’s memoir about her mother’s murder;

Hidden Valley Road, Robert Kolker’s biography of a Colorado family dealing schizophrenia;

Caste: The Origins of our Discontents, Isabel Wilkerson’s observations on an America divided by race;

Luster, Raven Leilani’s debut novel about a young Black woman’s affair with an older white man;

Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism, Anne Applebaum’s discussion of democratic decline and the rise of right-wing populist politics with authoritarian tendencies;

Long Bright River, Liz Moore’s suspense novel about sisters, addiction and family estrangement;

Obama also shared the titles of his favourite movies, TV shows, streaming features and music of the year. On the list: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Lovers Rock, David Fincher’s Mank, The Queen’s Gambit and The Good Place.



Here’s What You Need to Know About the Toronto International Festival of AuthorsDirector Roland Gulliver lands in Toronto to open his second, much-expanded virtual festival with more than 200 events

Tanzanian Novelist Gurnah Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for Depicting the Impact of Colonialism and Refugee StoriesGurnah, 72, is only the second writer from sub-Saharan Africa to win one of the world's most prestigious literary awards

Miriam Toews Garners Third Giller Prize Nomination for “Fight Night” after Shortlist AnnouncedSophomore efforts from novelists Omar El Akkad and Jordan Tannahill join debut books from Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Angélique Lalonde

Tina Brown’s New Book, ‘The Palace Papers’, Covers the Royal Family’s Reinvention After Diana’s Tragic DeathTina Brown's sequel to her 2007 release 'The Diana Chronicles' is set to hit shelves April 12, 2022. 

Audible.ca Releases Andrew Pyper’s Exclusive Audiobook “Oracle” For New Plus Catalogue LaunchThe thriller about a psychic FBI detective is one of 12,000 titles now available for free to members

Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen to Release Book Based On Their “Renegades” PodcastThe new book will feature a collection of candid, intimate and entertaining conversations

Prince Harry Will Publish a Memoir in Late 2022Harry says he's writing the book "not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become."


Sign Up for the Weekly Book Club Newsletter