As 2019 comes to an end, former American president Barack Obama continued his annual tradition of sharing his literary highlights of the year.
The eclectic book list features nineteen fiction and nonfiction titles that “made the last year a little brighter,” with two books specifically tagged for sports fans.
“Outlets like literature and art can enhance our day-to-day experiences. They’re the fabric that helps make up a life — the album that lifts us up after a long day, the dog-eared paperback we grab off the shelf to give to a friend, the movie that makes us think and feel in a new way, works that simply help us escape for a bit,” Obama wrote about his annual book list on Instagram.
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Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing my annual list of favorites — books, films, and music — with all of you. This has become a fun little tradition for me, and I hope it is for you, too. Because while each of us has plenty that keeps us busy—work and family life, social and volunteer commitments—outlets like literature and art can enhance our day-to-day experiences. They’re the fabric that helps make up a life—the album that lifts us up after a long day, the dog-eared paperback we grab off the shelf to give to a friend, the movie that makes us think and feel in a new way, works that simply help us escape for a bit. To start, here are the books that made the last year a little brighter for me. Most of them came out in 2019, but a few were older ones that were new to me this year. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Among the titles that made this year’s list are Sarah M. Broom’s National Book Award-winning memoir, “The Yellow House”, which chronicles her upbringing in a shotgun house in New Orleans East and Albert Woodfox’s “Solitary”, in which the activist reflects on his four decades in solitary confinement.
Additional highlights include Sally Rooney’s award-winning “Normal People”, Jia Tolentino’s “Trick Mirror”, Valeria Luiselli’s “Lost Children Archive” and Casey Cep’s “Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee”, which takes a look at the Alabama murder case that novelist Harper Lee attempted — and failed — to chronicle.
Earlier this year, the former United States president singled out nineteen other books, including Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall”, Colson Whitehead’s “The Nickel Boys” and Min Jin Lee’s “Pachinko”.
At the time, Obama also mentioned the collected works of late Nobel-winning novelist Toni Morrison, to whom he awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.
See the full list of Obama’s favorite books from 2019 below: