It's always good to hear from President Obama, especially when he's got reading suggestions to share.
Barack Obama recommended six books on Facebook on June 16, and they're perfect for anyone who wants to do some heavy reading this summer.
You don't have to look very hard to see why a 2014 report by
U.S.A. Today ranked Obama as the second most-literary politician of all time, just behind Winston Churchill and ahead of U.S. Presidents Lincoln, Grant, and Theodore Roosevelt. President Obama is the author of two books for adults, Dreams from My Father and , and one book for children, The Audacity of Hope . He and his family were frequently spotted at Of Thee I Sing independent bookstores on Small Business Saturdays during his presidency. The New York Times reported in 2017 that books were "Obama's secret to surviving the White House," and Obama recommended 10 books for future leaders to read as he prepared to leave the White House in 2016. Put simply, books and Obama go together like PB&J.
The five books — plus one essay, if you want to be technical — Obama recommended on Facebook are all nonfiction, but even novel enthusiasts can find something to love on his shortlist. Check out President Obama's book recommendations below:
'Futureface: A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging' by Alex Wagner
Taking its title from a 1993
Time cover that purported to show the face of the future, which Alex Wagner thought looked very much like her own, Futureface chronicles the author's search for details of her own ancestry.
Obama says: "I once wrote a book on my own search for identity, so I was curious to see what Alex, daughter of a Burmese mother and Iowan Irish-Catholic father — and a friend of mine — discovered during her own. What she came up with is a thoughtful, beautiful meditation on what makes us who we are — the search for harmony between our own individual identities and the values and ideals that bind us together as Americans."
Click here to buy.
'The New Geography of Jobs' by Enrico Moretti
Since the 2008 housing crisis, the working world's landscape has changed, and the U.S. is highly unlikely to revert to its past state. As the economy continues to recover a decade later, we're still wrestling with the shadows of the past and the promises of the future. In
The New Geography of Jobs, Enrico Moretti mythbusts some common misconceptions about the American job market, and provides thoughtful suggestions to improve our future.
Obama says: "It's six years old now, but still a timely and smart discussion of how different cities and regions have made a changing economy work for them — and how policymakers can learn from that to lift the circumstances of working Americans everywhere."
Click here to buy.
'Why Liberalism Failed' by Patrick J. Deneen
Why Liberalism Failed, Patrick J. Deneen examines what he identifies as the flaws in liberal ideology, which he predicts will lead to the 20th century political movement's ultimate failure. Although Obama disagrees "with most of the author's conclusions," he still recommends this book to readers.
Obama says: "In a time of growing inequality, accelerating change, and increasing disillusionment with the liberal democratic order we've known for the past few centuries, I found this book thought-provoking. I don’t agree with most of the author’s conclusions, but the book offers cogent insights into the loss of meaning and community that many in the West feel, issues that liberal democracies ignore at their own peril."
Click here to buy.
"The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy" by Matthew Stewart
In this essay, Matthew Stewart examines how meritocratic achievement has passed down through generations in much the same way as other, inherited wealth. This money has stabilized the 9.9 percent — the members of the wealthiest tenth of Americans who are not the 0.1 percent — who had a minimum net worth of $1.2 million in 2012, and yet "keep insisting that we're 'middle class.'"
Obama says: "Another thought-provoking analysis, this one about how economic inequality in America isn’t just growing, but self-reinforcing — and what that means for education, health, happiness, even the strength of our democracy."
Read the essay here.
'In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History' by Mitch Landrieu
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu removed four Confederate monuments from the city in 2017. Part memoir and part microhistory,
In the Shadow of Statues traces Landrieu's evolution of thought on race, and examines the history of racism and pro-Confederate sentiment in the modern-day South.
Obama says: "A few years ago, I eulogized the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who was slain by a white supremacist in his church in Charleston, South Carolina. And I'll never forget something Clem said while he was alive: 'Across the South, we have a deep appreciation of history. We haven't always had a deep appreciation of each other's history.' That's something Mitch takes to heart in this book, while grappling with some of the most painful parts of our history and how they still live in the present. It's an ultimately optimistic take from someone who believes the South will rise again not by reasserting the past, but by transcending it."
Click here to buy.
'Truth Decay: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life' by Jennifer Kavanagh and Michael D. Rich
Available free from Rand Corporation, this eBook analyzes disturbing trends in U.S. discourse today — "an increasing disagreement about facts and analytical interpretations of facts and data; a blurring of the line between opinion and fact; an increase in the relative volume, and resulting influence, of opinion and personal experience over fact; and lowered trust in formerly respected sources of factual information" — and attempts to explain how and why those trends took hold in the country over the last 20 years.
Obama says: "The title is self-explanatory, but the findings are very interesting. 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."
Read the eBook here.