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Barack Obama’s 2019 Summer Reading List

The former president of the United States has some recommendations for you.

Every summer there are some things we can always count on: overwhelming heat, surprise thunderstorms, and Barack Obama’s summer reading list. Last week the former president posted on his Facebook page his annual round-up of books he’s reading this season. We’re not sure if it’s because of his life-long habit of reading or his connection to Chicago, but the man has great taste in books. Below is his list of favorites. (You can read the original post here.)

Beloved and the Collected Novels of Toni Morrison
Knopf

“You can’t go wrong by reading or re-reading the collected works of Toni Morrison. Beloved, Song of Solomon, The Bluest Eye, Sula, everything else — they’re transcendent, all of them. You’ll be glad you read them.”

The Nickel Boys
By Colson Whitehead
Doubleday

“Sometimes difficult to swallow, The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead is a necessary read, detailing the way Jim Crow and mass incarceration tore apart lives and wrought consequences that ripple into today.”

Exhalation: Stories
By Ted Chiang
Knopf

Exhalation by Ted Chiang is a collection of short stories that will make you think, grapple with big questions, and feel more human. The best kind of science fiction.”

Wolf Hall
By Hilary Mantel
Picador

Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel­’s epic fictionalized look at Thomas Cromwell’s rise to power, came out in 2009, but I was a little busy back then, so I missed it. Still great today.”

Men Without Women: Stories
By Haruki Murakami; Translated by Philip Gabriel & Ted Goossen
Knopf

“Haruki Murakami’s Men Without Women examines what happens to characters without important women in their lives; it’ll move you and confuse you and sometimes leave you with more questions than answers.”

American Spy
By Lauren Wilkinson
Random House

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson is a whole lot more than just a spy thriller, wrapping together the ties of family, of love, and of country.”

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains
By Nicholas Carr
W. W. Norton & Company

The Shallows by Nicholas Carr came out a few years ago, but its arguments on the internet’s impact on our brains, our lives, and our communities are still worthy of reflection, which is something we all could use a little more of in this age.”

Lab Girl
By Hop Jahren
Vintage

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren 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
Random House

Inland by Téa Obreht just came out yesterday, so I won’t spoil anything. But those of you who’ve been waiting for Obreht’s next novel won’t be disappointed.”

How To Read the Air
Dinaw Mengestu
Riverhead

“You’ll get a better sense of the complexity and redemption within the American immigrant story with Dinaw Mengestu’s novel, How to Read the Air.

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive
By Stephanie Land
Hachette Books

Maid by Stephanie Land 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.”

About Amy Brady

Amy Brady is the Editor-in-Chief of the Chicago Review of Books and Deputy Publisher of Guernica Magazine. Her writing has appeared in Oprah, The Village Voice, Pacific Standard, The New Republic, McSweeney's, and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter at @ingredient_x.

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