Former President Barack Obama has long been known for his love of books and his insightful reading recommendations. With summer in full swing, Obama recently shared his list of nine must-read books for the season.
Spanning a wide range of genres and styles, these selections promise to captivate readers with their thought-provoking narratives, compelling characters, and rich storytelling. However, he also used this opportunity to discuss the growing number of books being banned across the country.
Obama’s summer reading recommendations 2023:
Let’s take a closer look at the books that made the cut for Obama’s summer reading recommendations.
- “Poverty, By America” by Matthew Desmond. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author, takes readers on an intimate journey into the lives of families struggling with poverty in America. Through vivid storytelling and meticulous research, Desmond sheds light on the systemic issues that perpetuate poverty and the challenges faced by those who strive to overcome it. Check out the review on Poverty, By America.
- “Small Mercies” by Dennis Lehane. Lehane, a master of crime fiction, delivers another gripping tale set in the shadows of working-class America. “Small Mercies” explores themes of loss, redemption, and the resilience of the human spirit as it follows the lives of various characters grappling with personal tragedies and searching for meaning.
- “King: A Life” by Jonathan Eig. This comprehensive biography delves into the complex and extraordinary life of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. With meticulous research and a compelling narrative, Eig paints a vivid portrait of King’s journey, shedding light on his activism, his personal struggles, and his enduring legacy as an icon of the Civil Rights Movement.
- “Hello Beautiful” by Ann Napolitano.
In this emotionally charged novel, Napolitano explores the aftermath of a plane crash and its impact on the lives of the survivors. “Hello Beautiful” delves into themes of trauma, healing, and the interconnectedness of human experiences, weaving a poignant and unforgettable tale of resilience and hope.
- “All the Sinners Bleed” by S.A. Cosby. Cosby presents a gripping crime thriller that follows the journey of a Black ex-con named Isaiah Coleridge, who becomes entangled in a web of violence and revenge. With its compelling characters and atmospheric setting, “All the Sinners Bleed” offers a fresh take on the noir genre, tackling issues of race, justice, and personal redemption.
- “Birnam Wood” by Eleanor Catton. The Booker Prize-winning author, returns with a mesmerizing novel that intertwines history, mythology, and the power of storytelling. “Birnam Wood” takes readers on a magical and lyrical journey through time and place, exploring themes of identity, love, and the enduring nature of stories.
- “What Napoleon Could Not Do” by DK Nnuro. This historical fiction novel transports readers to the era of Napoleon Bonaparte, offering a fresh perspective on the French emperor’s failed attempt to invade Africa. Through vivid descriptions and engaging characters, Nnuro weaves a tale of courage, resistance, and the indomitable spirit of a people fighting for their freedom.
- “The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny, and Murder” by David Grann. Grann, known for his gripping non-fiction narratives, delivers another thrilling account of adventure and survival. “The Wager” takes readers on a harrowing journey through the treacherous waters of the Pacific, recounting the true story of a shipwreck, a mutiny, and the desperate struggle for survival in the face of unimaginable odds.
- “Blue Hour” by Tiffany Clarke Harrison. Clarke Harrison’s debut novel explores the complexities of family, love, and the pursuit of happiness. Set against the backdrop of the vibrant city of New Orleans, “Blue Hour” follows the intertwined lives of three women as they navigate their own personal journeys, illuminating the power of resilience, forgiveness, and self-discovery.
Obama’s summer reading recommendations offer a diverse collection of literary gems that are sure to engage and inspire readers. From thought-provoking non-fiction to gripping crime thrillers and captivating works of fiction, these books invite us to explore different perspectives, question the world around us, and reflect on our shared humanity.
Obama on banned books
The former US president also took a moment to thank librarians across the country in the middle of books being banned. In a statement addressed to workers, he said: “In any democracy, the free exchange of ideas is an important part of making sure that citizens are informed, engaged and feel like their perspectives matter.”
To ensure nationwide and permanent access to banned books, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) launched The Banned Book Club, a new digital library that creates free e-books of banned titles for readers in areas across the United States where titles have been banned.
The Banned Book Club works by utilising GPS-based geo-targeting. As a result, when a reader is within an area whose library has been affected by book banning, they can visit TheBannedBookClub.info to see the exact titles that have been banned. Then, they can download the Palace e-reader app, choose ‘Banned Book Club’ as their library, obtain a free virtual library card and download those books for free on any handheld device.
“At DPLA, our mission is to ensure access to knowledge for all and we believe in the power of technology to further that access,” said John S. Bracken, executive director of Digital Public Library of America. “Today book bans are one of the greatest threats to our freedom, and we have created The Banned Book Club to leverage the dual powers of libraries and digital technology to ensure that every American can access the books they want to read.”
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