Becoming was one of the most hotly anticipated books of 2018. So it was hardly surprising that the memoir from former First Lady and absolute inspiration Michelle Obama received rave reviews and has been flying off shelves since it was released on Nov. 16. And it's even less surprising that, once news hit that Obama would be appearing at London's Southbank Centre in conversation with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, tickets sold out quicker than you could say "when they go low we go high." Thankfully, if you weren't one of the lucky ones to receive a seat, you can hear Michelle Obama reading Becoming on BBC Radio 4 and, honestly, I can’t imagine a better way to start the morning. Quick-witted, honest, and raw — there is something so special about hearing Obama's words read in her own voice. If you haven’t already run out to get Becoming, you certainly will after this.
If, like myself, you find yourself asking What Would Michelle Do in trying times, this week, you can start your day by having that question answered. Obama will be on BBC Radio 4 at 9.45 am each day to read extracts from her memoir, Becoming. And if you have missed the first couple of readings, you can catch up on the BBC Sounds website or app. There is absolutely no denying it, Obama has an amazing story, before, during, and after the White House. And now you can listen to her tell it at your desk at work. What more could you want?
So what can you expect from Becoming? Starting with what it was like growing up in the South Side of Chicago in the '70s, Obama talks about living above her very strict great-aunt in a small flat with her parents and brother. You can hear the warmth in her voice when she talks about her family. She goes on to tell the story of moving away to Princeton University, her dad driving her and her then boyfriend David in his prized possession, his Buick. Talking about her time at college, she reads, “Black students made up less than 9 percent of my freshman class. Poppy seeds in a bowl of rice.”
As she works through the book, she details meeting, falling in love with, and marrying Barack Obama. Prepare yourself: It is a really dreamy story that will tug on all of your heartstrings. However, Michelle is also completely honest about what it's like being married to the leader of the Free World. She writes, “I was now married to one of the most heavily guarded human beings on earth. It was simultaneously relieving and distressing.” Listeners can also hear about the the family's move to the White House from her perspective. She talks about going on trips abroad and meeting the Queen as well as life after the 2016 election when she moved back to relative normality.
With so much packed into one life, when you hear Michelle read Becoming, it sounds almost like a fictional adventure. It's funny and light in places, but also really raw in others. She hasn’t held back in sharing her experiences and her opinions. It goes without saying, but she is insanely inspiring. If you fancy your daily dose of female empowerment, I can’t think of a better way than hearing Michelle Obama speak.
Listen to previous episodes of Michelle Obama reading Becoming on Radio 4 here.