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79 books Barack Obama recommended during his Presidency

From Moby Dick to Harry Potter

Jack Shepherd
Thursday 19 January 2017 17:26 GMT
Obama reading
Obama reading (Getty)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Throughout his time in the White Office, President Barack Obama has recommended hundreds of books.

For the last two years, for instance, Obama has shared with the world his recommended summer reading, leading to bookstores selling out of his chosen novels across America.

With the Democrat leaving the Oval Office within the week, we look back at some of the books Obama recommended over the last eight years.

Summer reads - In 2015 and 2016, Obama recommended various books to sit back and read while enjoying the sunshine, ranging from sci-fi to a portrait of Alexander Hamilton’s life.

1. Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, William Finnegan

2. H Is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald

3. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins

4. Seveneves, Neal Stephenson

5. The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead

6. All That Is, James Salter

7. All The Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

8. The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert

9. The Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri

10. Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates

11. Washington: A Life, Ron Chernow

Favourite books (according to Facebook) - On his social media account, Obama - who whoever set up his Facebook page - lists numerous classic books along, including the Bible.

"Call me Ishmael"
"Call me Ishmael"

12. Song Of Solomon, Toni Morrison

13. Moby Dick, Herman Melville

14. ‘Shakespeare’s Tragedies’

15. Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch

16. Gilead, Marylinne Robinson

17. Self-Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson

18. The Bible

19. Lincoln’s Collected Writings

Favourite books (according to The New York Times) - In an email to the NYT, Obama added a few more classics to his favourite books list.

20. Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois

21. Self-Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson

23. Gandhi’s autobiography

24. All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren

25. Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam

26. The Federalist, Alexander Hamilton

27. Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith

28. Cancer Ward, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

29/30. The Power and the Glory and The Quiet American, Graham Greene

31. Working, Studs Terkel

For his daughters - While speaking to the Times, Obama listed the books he suggested his 18-year-old daughter read

32. The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer

33. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez

34. The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing

35. The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston

From independent bookstores - The NYT were once again on hand when Obama visited an independent bookstore and picked 17 novels, some of which were listed by the publication.

36. Redwall series, Brian Jacques

37. Junie B. Jones series, Barbara Park

38. Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson

39. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

40. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

41. Nora Webster, Colm Toibin

42. The Laughing Monsters, Denis Johnson

43. Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China, Evan Osnos

44. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Dr. Atul Gawande

45. Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms, Katherine Rundell

46. The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan.

Favourite books (again) - When visiting the public library in Washington’s Anacostia neighbourhood, Obama spoke to young students about some of his favourites from childhood.

47. The Hardy Boys series, Edward Stratemeyer

48. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson

49. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

50. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

51. Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak

Other favourites - back in 2009, the year he officially became President, Obama also listed numerous favourite books. A comprehensive piece in The Telegraph also lists numerous other additions to the favourites list.

52. Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin

53. The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing

54. Various writings of Reinhold Niebuhr

55. Lush Life, Richard Prince

President Barack Obama's best viral moments

56. Philosophy & Literature, Peter S Thompson

57. Collected Poems, Derek Walcott

58. Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese

59. To the End of the Land, David Grossman

60. Lessons in Disaster, Gordon Goldstein

61. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Edmund Morris

62. John Adams, David McCullough

63. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

64. Plainsong, Kent Haruf

65. The Way Home, George Pelecanos

66. Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution, Thomas L Friedman

67. What Is the What, Dave Eggers

68. Netherland, Joseph O’Neill

69. Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet, Jeffrey D. Sachs

70. Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope, Jonathan Alte

71. FDR, Jean Edward Smith

72. Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, Steve Coll

73. Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age, Larry Bartels

74. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, Doris Kearns Goodwin

75. Fates and Furies, Lauren Goff

76. Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling

77. Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, Salman Rushdie

78. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn

79. The Three-Body Problem, Liu Cixin

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