15 Books Recommended by Barack Obama

Whether reading for pleasure or taking a break from work, President Barack Obama always has a stack of books by his bedside. So we asked the 44th president to recommend his favorite reads of the year—and beyond. Finally, from historical fiction to potent non-fiction, 15 books recommended by Barack Obama inspired him repeatedly.

15 Books Recommended by Barack Obama

#1 An American Marriage by Tayari Jones


About the Book

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones; Books recommended by Barack Obama
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Title: An American Marriage

Author: Tayari Jones

Genre: Fiction, Cultural

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Pages: 308

Goodreads rating: 3.9/5

Summary

An American Marriage is a novel by Tayari Jones, published in February 2018. The story follows newlyweds Celestial and Roy, who embodies the American Dream and the New South. But as they build their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. First, Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Finally, it is one of the best books recommended by Barack Obama.

Barack Obama’s Opinion:

A moving portrayal of the effects of a wrongful conviction on a young African-American couple.” 

Barack Obama

To buy/gift An American Marriage, click on the below link:


#2 A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul


About the Book

A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul
A House for Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul

Title: A House for Mr. Biswas

Author: V.S. Naipaul

Genre: Fiction, Cultural

Publisher: Picador 

Pages: 623

Goodreads rating: 3.8/5

Summary

This book tells the story of Mohun Biswas, who is born in rural Trinidad to a Hindu family of modest means. Mr. Biswas wants to be a writer, but he cannot make a living as one, so he becomes a journalist. Moreover, he marries a wealthy family, but his wife and in-laws make his life miserable. However, he eventually buys a house, which gives him some independence. Finally, Finally, Mr. Biswas dies happy, knowing he has finally become a writer.

Barack Obama’s Opinion:

Great novel about growing up in Trinidad and the challenge of post-colonial identity.” 

Barack Obama

To buy/gift A House for Mr. Biswas, click on the below link:


#3 Becoming by Michelle Obama


About the Book

Becoming by Michelle Obama; Books recommended by Barack Obama
Becoming by Michael Obama

Title: Becoming

Author: Michelle Obama

Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography

Publisher: Crown

Pages: 426

Goodreads rating: 4.4/5

Summary

Becoming by Michelle Obama is a powerful and inspiring memoir about the former First Lady’s life. She tells the story of her upbringing on the South Side of Chicago, her education at Princeton and Harvard, and her experiences as an executive working for the University of Chicago and then the City of Chicago. Finally, it is one of the best books recommended by Barack Obama.

Barack Obama’s Opinion:

“Obviously my favorite [book of 2018]!” 

Barack Obama

To buy/gift Becoming, click on the below link:


#4 Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover


About the Book

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Title: Educated: A Memoir

Author: Tara Westover

Genre: Memoir

Publisher: Random House

Pages: 352

Goodreads rating: 4.4/5

Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. However, born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the world’s end by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag.” Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. Moreover, the family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. But then, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history. However, her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her to Harvard and Cambridge. Finally, Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. 

Barack Obama’s Opinion:

“A remarkable memoir of a young woman raised in a survivalist family in Idaho.” 

Barack Obama

To buy/gift Educated: A Memoir, click on the below link:


#5 Factfulness by Hans Rosling


About the Book

Factfulness by Hans Rosling; Books recommended by Barack Obama
Factfulness by Hans Rosling

Title: Factfulness

Author: Hans Rosling

Genre: Science, Psychology

Publisher: Sceptre

Pages: 342

Goodreads rating: 4.3/5

Summary

In Factfulness, Hans Rosling offers a radical new way of looking at the world. Rosling was a doctor and a statistician who became fascinated by global trends. However, he believed that the world was in better shape than most people think, and he proved it. Moreover, Rosling’s main argument is that we tend to see the world in a negative light. We catastrophize, focus on the bad news, and make decisions based on our fears. Finally, this isn’t helpful – it makes the world look worse than it is.

Barack Obama’s Opinion:

 “A hopeful book about the potential for human progress when we work off facts rather than our inherent biases.” 

Barack Obama

To buy/gift Factfulness, click on the below link:


#6 Futureface by Alex Wagner


About the Book

Futureface by Alex Wagner
Futureface by Alex Wagner

Title: Futureface

Author: Alex Wagner

Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography

Publisher:  One World

Pages: 352

Goodreads rating: 3.4/5

Summary

The future face is a book about a young man’s journey to discover who he is. Alex Wagner, the author, is the son of a white father and a mother of Chinese descent. He was born in Bangkok, Thailand, and raised in Washington, D.C. His parents divorced when he was young, primarily raised by his mother. Finally, it is one of the best books recommended by Barack Obama.

Barack Obama’s Opinion:

“A thoughtful, beautiful meditation on what makes us who we are.” 

Barack Obama

To buy/gift Futureface, click on the below link:


#7 In the Shadow of Statues by Mitch Landrieu


About the Book

In the Shadows of Statues by Mitch Landrieu; Books recommended by Barack Obama
In the Shadow of Statues by Mitch Landrieu

Title: In the Shadow of Statues

Author: Mitch Landrieu

Genre: Non- Fiction, Historical

Publisher: Viking

Pages: 227

Goodreads rating: 4.0/5

Summary

Mitch Landrieu served as the 56th mayor of New Orleans from 2010-to 2018. However, he is a Democrat and the first white mayor of New Orleans in over 30 years. In the Shadow of Statues is Landrieu’s account of his decision to take down four Confederate monuments in New Orleans and the events. The book begins with Landrieu’s reflections on his upbringing in Louisiana and how the Civil Rights Movement shaped his views on race and equality. Finally, he provides a historical overview of the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Jim Crow era.

Barack Obama’s Opinion:

An ultimately optimistic take from someone who believes the South will rise again not by reasserting the past, but by transcending it.” 

Barack Obama

To buy/gift In the Shadow of Statues, click on the below link:


#8 Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark


About the Book

Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark
Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark

Title: Life 3.0

Author: Max Tegmark

Genre: A.I., Non-fiction

Publisher: Trade Paperbacks

Pages: 364

Goodreads rating: 4.0/5

Summary

This book summarizes the author’s thought-provoking talk on A.I. and its potential impact on our future. The book starts with the fundamental questions we should ask ourselves about A.I. What should we do with A.I.? How will it change our lives? Why does it matter? These are fundamental questions to understanding how to live in a world where A.I. is becoming more common. Next, however, the book details how A.I. will change the world, starting with jobs. Moreover, it talks about how machines can do many jobs and what will happen when they take over those jobs. Finally, it also talks about how this might affect wages globally, as people who lose their jobs because of automation may not have enough money to buy things like food or clothing.

Barack Obama’s Opinion:

Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2018 list.

To buy/gift Life 3.0, click on the below link:


#9 Speed & Scale by John E. Doerr


About the Book

Speed & Scale by John E. Doerr; Books recommended by Barack Obama
Speed & Scale by John E. Doerr

Title: Speed & Scale

Author: John E. Doerr

Genre: Fiction, Environment

Publisher: Portfolio 

Pages: 448

Goodreads rating: 4.3/5

Summary

In Speed & Scale, John E. Doerr argues that the key to success in the 21st century is to move faster and scale bigger. Moreover, to illustrate this point, he shares the stories of some of the world’s most successful companies, such as Amazon, Google, and Uber. Doerr believes that there are three essential elements to moving fast and scaling big: (1) having a clear vision and mission, (2) building a great team, and (3) using the right tools and technology. However, he also stresses being agile and constantly learning and adapting. Finally, it is one of the best books recommended by Barack Obama.

Barack Obama’s Opinion:

“If you care about climate change, [this book] offers concrete steps that we can all take to make a difference.” 

Barack Obama

To buy/gift Speed & Scale, click on the below link:


#10 The Moment of Lift by Melinda French Gates


About the Book

The Moment of Lift by Melinda French Gates
The Moment of Lift by Melinda French Gates

Title: The Moment of Lift

Author: Melinda French Gates

Publisher: Collins Business Essentials

Genre: Self-Help, Non-fiction

Pages: 273

Goodreads rating: 4.2/5

Summary

The Moment of Lift is a book about the importance of gender equality and how it can help lift women and their families out of poverty and society. Melinda Gates, the co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, tells her personal story of how she came to understand the importance of this issue and what she is doing to help promote gender equality worldwide.

Barack Obama’s Opinion:

Melinda tells the stories of the inspiring people she’s met through her work all over the world, digs into the data, and powerfully illustrates issues that need our attention.” 

Barack Obama

To buy/gift The Moment of Lift, click on the below link:


#11 The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti


About the Book

The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti; Books recommended by Barack Obama
The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti

Title: The New Geography of Jobs

Author: Enrico Moretti

Genre: Non-Fiction, Political

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Pages: 304

Goodreads rating: 4.0/5

Summary

The New Geography of Jobs examines how the economy is changing and the impact of these changes on the workforce. Moreover, the book focuses on the idea that there are now three types of jobs in America: those that are high-skill, high-pay; those that are low-skill, low-pay; and those that are in the middle. However, Moretti argues that the growth of technology and globalization have led to declining middle-class jobs. He also contends that investing in education and training is the best way to revive the middle class.

Barack Obama’s Opinion:

Still a timely and smart discussion of how different cities and regions have made a changing economy work for them.” 

Barack Obama

To buy/gift The New Geography of Jobs, click on the below link:


#12 The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds


About the Book

The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds
The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds

Title: The Word Collector

Author: Peter H. Reynolds

Genre: Fiction, Children

Publisher: Orchard Books

Pages: 40

Goodreads rating: 4.3/5

Summary

The Word Collector is the story of a boy who loves words so much that he starts collecting them. However, he finds joy in the diversity of words and their meanings. Moreover, as he collects more and more words, he begins to see their beauty and power. The boy’s family and friends don’t understand his obsession, but they come to appreciate it as he uses his words to make them laugh, comfort them, and bring them together. Finally, the Word Collector is a celebration of language and its ability to enrich our lives.

Barack Obama’s Opinion:

“A fun book that vividly illustrates the transformative power of words.” 

Barack Obama

To buy/gift The Word Collector, click on the below link:


#13 Truth Decay by Jennifer Kavanagh


About the Book

Truth Decay by Jennifer Kavanagh; Books recommended by Barack Obama
Truth Decay by Jennifer Kavanagh

Title: Truth Decay

Author: Jennifer Kavanagh

Genre: Non-Fiction, Political

Publisher: RAND Corporation

Pages: 324

Goodreads rating: 4.4/5

Summary

In “Truth Decay: The War on Truth and How to Fight It,” Jennifer Kavanagh offers a comprehensive overview of the challenges to truth and facts in America today. Moreover, she analyzes the causes of this “truth decay” and offers ways to counter it. The author, Jennifer Kavanagh, is a senior fellow at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research institution.

Barack Obama’s Opinion:

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.” 

Barack Obama

To buy/gift Truth Decay, click on the below link:


#14 Warlight by Michael Ondaatje


About the Book

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje
Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

Title: Warlight

Author: Michael Ondaatje

Genre: Fiction, Historical

Publisher:  Jonathan Cape

Pages: 290

Goodreads rating: 3.6/5

Summary

The narrator, a boy in his late teens, tells the story of his parents and a mysterious figure called The Moth. The Moth, who may be a spy, enters the lives of the narrator’s parents in the years after World War II. However, he meets them in Manila, where they have gone to start a new life, and begins to court the mother. The father is suspicious of the Moth and paranoid about what he may be up to, but the mother is drawn to him.

Barack Obama’s Opinion:

“A meditation on the lingering effects of war on family.”

Barack Obama

To buy/gift Warlight, click on the below link:


#15 Why Liberalism Failed by Patrick J. Deneen


About the Book

Why Liberalism Failed by Patrick J. Deneen; Books recommended by Barack Obama
Why Liberalism Failed by Patrick J. Deneen

Title: Why Liberalism Failed

Author: Patrick J. Deneen

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publisher: Yale University Press

Pages: 264

Goodreads rating: 4.4/5

Summary

In the book, Deneen argues that classical liberalism – the belief in a minimal state, free markets, and civil liberties – has failed because it undermined the three pillars of human flourishing: community, tradition, and morality. However, he observes that liberalism has led to the decay of community, the rise of mass society, and the erosion of traditional values and practices. He also blames liberalism for the current cultural and political crises, such as the increasing polarization of society, the rise of populism, and the decline of democratic institutions.

Barack Obama’s Opinion:

Offers cogent insights into the loss of meaning and community that many in the West feel.” 

Barack Obama

To buy/gift Why Liberalism Failed, click on the below link:

P.S.: Some books recommended here are available on Kindle Unlimited. If you have subscribed to it, you can read these books. Also, check out this article: Is Kindle Unlimited Worth It?

SO, to conclude, here is the list of the 15 Books Recommended by Barack Obama

1An American Marriage by Tayari JonesBuy Now
2A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. NaipaulBuy Now
3Becoming by Michelle ObamaBuy Now
4Educated: A Memoir by Tara WestoverBuy Now
5Factfulness by Hans RoslingBuy Now
6Futureface by Alex WagnerBuy Now
7In the Shadow of Statues by Mitch LandrieuBuy Now
8Life 3.0 by Max TegmarkBuy Now
9Speed & Scale by John E. DoerrBuy Now
10The Moment of Lift by Melinda French GatesBuy Now
11The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti Buy Now
12The Word Collector by Peter H. ReynoldsBuy Now
13Truth Decay by Jennifer KavanaghBuy Now
14Warlight by Michael OndaatjeBuy Now
15Why Liberalism Failed by Patrick J. DeneenBuy Now
15 Books Recommended by Barack Obama

We hope that this list of books recommended by Barack Obama helped you pick your next read or gave you recommendations to put on your to-be-read list. Finally, we hope that you enjoy them all!

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