Check out the following books that our former President describes as having “reaffirmed my faith in our ability to move forward together when we seek the truth,” as well as the titles he shared before his trip to Africa in July.

  • Educated: A Memoir
    Tara Westover

    This book is a memoir of Westover’s education, from her faith-based childhood education at home to her Cambridge doctorate. Obama remarks at the “great understanding and love for the world she leaves behind” that Westover shows throughout the book.

  • Warlight
    Michael Ondaatje

    Ondaatje tells the story of two children left in London by their parents during World War II. As one of the children remembers his adolescence and then tries to piece together the story of his parents, the book plays with the nature of memory and provides vivid images along the way. Obama calls it “a meditation on the lingering effects of war on family.”

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

    Obama marked the passing of V.S. Naipaul in August by re-reading what he called the author’s “first great novel about growing up in Trinidad and the challenge of post-colonial identity.”

  • An American Marriage
    Tayari Jones

    This novel describes the impact of wrongful conviction on a family after a husband is sent to jail for a sexual assault he didn’t commit. This may be a subtle suggestion that the “American carnage” approach to solving crime may not be the best one.

  • Factfulness
    Hans Rosling

    Obama closed off his list by recommending a hopeful book about the potential for human progress when we work off facts rather than our inherent biases. Written by a Swedish physician and also endorsed by Bill Gates, Obama’s final pick stands out from the rest of his fiction and memoir picks.

  • Things Fall Apart
    Chinua Achebe

    From Obama: “A true classic of world literature, this novel paints a picture of traditional society wrestling with the arrival of foreign influence, from Christian missionaries to British colonialism. A masterpiece that has inspired generations of writers in Nigeria, across Africa, and around the world.”

  • A Long Walk to Freedom
    Nelson Mandela

    From Obama: “Mandela’s life was one of the epic stories of the 20th century. This definitive memoir traces the arc of his life from a small village, to his years as a revolutionary, to his long imprisonment, and ultimately his ascension to unifying President, leader, and global icon. Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand history—and then go out and change it.”

  • Americanah
    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    From Obama: “From one of the world’s great contemporary writers comes the story of two Nigerians making their way in the U.S. and the UK, raising universal questions of race and belonging, the overseas experience for the African diaspora, and the search for identity and a home.”

  • The Return
    Hisham Matar

    From Obama: “A beautifully-written memoir that skillfully balances a graceful guide through Libya’s recent history with the author’s dogged quest to find his father who disappeared in Gaddafi’s prisons.”

  • The World As It Is
    Ben Rhodes

    From Obama: “It’s true, Ben does not have African blood running through his veins. But few others so closely see the world through my eyes like he can. Ben’s one of the few who’ve been with me since that first presidential campaign. His memoir is one of the smartest reflections I’ve seen as to how we approached foreign policy, and one of the most compelling stories I’ve seen about what it’s actually like to serve the American people for eight years in the White House.”