Former US President Barack Obama, an avid reader and writer, has shared a list of his summer reads.
It’s an eclectic mix of novels, non-fiction and short story collections, ranging from Japanese author Haruki Murakami to the complete works of Toni Morrison – the Nobel Prize winner who recently passed away.
Many of the works suggested by the ex-president tackle issues of race, immigration, gender and class. At the end of his time in office, President Obama told The New York Times about the “indispensable role” of reading during his presidency and throughout his life.
Have you read?
Here are titles on Obama's summer reading list.
What is the World Economic Forum's Book Club?
The World Economic Forum launched its official Book Club on Facebook in April 2018. Readers worldwide are invited to join and discuss a variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction. It is a private Facebook group dedicated to discussing one book every month.
Each month, we announce a new book on our social media channels. We then publish an extract and begin a chapter-by-chapter discussion with group members. Selected comments and questions are sent to the author, who in return sends us a video response.
Unlike other book clubs, the group features the direct involvement of the authors, giving you - our global audience with members all around the globe - a chance to directly connect with some of the most influential thinkers and experts in the world.
We have featured authors such as Steven Pinker, Elif Shafak, Yuval Noah Harari, and Melinda Gates.
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The collected works of Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison’s writing explored black identity in American life. She penned 11 novels, as well as children’s books and essay collections. These included celebrated works such as Song of Solomon and Beloved, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988.
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
This novel follows the lives of two boys sentenced to a harsh reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida, and looks at how mass incarceration tore apart lives.
Exhalation by Ted Chiang
This collection of science fiction short stories grapples with big questions that force the reader to think about the universe and our place in it.
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
A fictionalized look at Thomas Cromwell’s rise to power in 16th-century England, with the royal adviser portrayed at once as charming, ruthless, idealistic and opportunistic in his rapid climb through the court of Henry VIII.
Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami
As the title suggests, this moving short-story collection explores what happens to male characters who live without important women in their lives.
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
More than a spy thriller, the ties of family, of love, and of country entwine the book’s protagonist, a black, female secret agent.
The Shallows by Nicholas Carr
A look at how the internet impacts our brains, the way we live and the community ties that bind us.
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
This book, in Obama’s own words, is “terrific – a beautifully written memoir about the life of a woman in science, a brilliant friendship, and the profundity of trees”.
Inland by Téa Obreht
The true but little-known story of how two very different lives collide during an epic journey across the lawless and drought-ridden lands of 1893 Arizona.
How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu
Themes of love, family and the power of imagination follow a young man on a journey to retrace his parents’ honeymoon as young Ethiopian immigrants.
Maid by Stephanie Land
A look at the class divide in America through the eyes of a single mother, revealing the hardships many families face to make it from one day to the next.