Barack Obama's Favorites of 2019

Barack Obama's Favorites of 2019

It's no secret that the 44th President of the United States is a voracious reader. Barack Obama has been recommending dozens of books to fellow bibliophiles every year through his social media channels, a tradition he has kept alive even after leaving office. With the turn of the decade and a good part of 2020 still ahead of us, we're looking back at his favorite books of 2019 to give our readers some great suggestions on what to read this year.

1. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

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A work of original research that examines the digital future and the quest by powerful corporations to predict and control human behavior.

2. The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company by William Dalrymple

The Anarchy

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The story of abuse of corporate power: How the East India Company arrived in Asia under the pretense of trade and overthrew the powerful Mughal Empire.

3. Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep

Furious Hours

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A chilling crime-drama about a Reverend accused of murdering five of his family members for insurance money in the 1970s.

4. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Girl, Woman, Other

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The everyday struggles of twelve black British women and the stories of their families, friends, lovers, and the lives they have lived.

5. The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present by David Treuer

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee

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An extensive and detailed account of the history of Native American life and culture from the Wounded Knee massacre to the present day.

6. How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell

How To Do Nothing

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A book that offers an antithetical approach to the narratives of efficiency that are prevalent and widely accepted today, in a world where our value is determined by 24/7 productivity.

7. Lost Children Archive Novel by Valeria Luiselli

Lost Children Archive

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An emotional novel that follows a blended family of four traveling from New York City to the Mexican Border and how their road trip collides with an immigration crisis.

8. Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington

Lot: Stories

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A coming-of-age story set in Houston about the son of a black mother and a Latino father. A story that tackles themes of family, fatherhood, poverty, homosexuality, unrequited love, and community.

9. Normal People by Sally Rooney

Normal People

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The story of two deeply damaged people who develop a bond that transcends all norms.

10. The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

The Orphan Master's Son

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The thrilling story of a young man's journey through the world's most secretive dictatorship, North Korea. A novel that deals with themes of propaganda, identity, and state control.

11. The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom

The Yellow House

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A powerful and poignant memoir about a family, a city (New Orleans), and a hurricane (Katrina).

12. Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland

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A soul-stirring book on the bitter conflict in Northern Ireland, the climate of fear and paranoia, the brutal violence, and the horrific murder of a widowed mother of ten wrongly accused of being an informer.

13. Solitary by Albert Woodfox


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A story of resistance and hope; the life story of a man who survived more than four decades in solitary confinement in the notorious Angola prison in Louisiana.

14. The Topeka School by Ben Lerner

The Topeka School

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Set in the American Midwest during the 90s, this hybrid family drama and coming-of-age story explores poetry, masculinity, and politics in Middle America.

15. Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino

Trick Mirror

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A collection of nine enlightening essays in which New York writer Jia Tolentino discusses ways to live ethically in a world full of cons that are constantly trying to warp our vision.

16. Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

Trust Exercise

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The story of the passionate bond between David and Sarah, two students who meet at a performing arts academy, and how their bond is affected by the attentions of a charismatic teacher.

17. We Live in Water: Stories by Jess Walter

We Live in Water

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A collection of thirteen riveting short stories that range from tales of love to social satire to suspense and crime fiction.

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