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Barack Obama Announces His Best Books of 2022

By Megan Whitlock


Looking to kick off the new year with some reading recommendations? Fulfilling what has become an annual tradition, the former president of the United States, Barack Obama, has shared his picks for the best books of 2022.


The picks follow his summer reading list which featured Sunday Times bestseller Sea of Tranquillity by Emily St. John Mandel, and The Candy House by Jennifer Egan, a belated sequel to the Pulitzer-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad. Both books made it onto his December “best-of” list along with Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson, a debut novel that follows two siblings uncovering secrets after their estranged mother’s death.


Other new books selected this time around include one from his wife and former First Lady, Michelle Obama, The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times. The wisdom-sharing volume contains reflections, stories and advice on how to stay balanced in “uncertain times.”


Amongst a diverse range of fiction and non-fiction choices, Obama also included the graphic memoir Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Canadian cartoonist Kate Beaton. The comic follows Beaton’s experiences as a woman working in the Athabasca oil sands to pay off her student loans and tackles topics such as the environment, class, wealth and sexual harassment.


Many of the books on the list had also received “best of the year” acclaim from other publications, as is the case of Namwali Serpell’s The Furrows. Serpell’s latest novel, published by the Vintage imprint of Penguin Random House, was featured in lists from Publishers Weekly, Vulture and The New York Times as one of the top books of 2022. The novel explores hard-hitting themes such as grief, loss and time as a sister experiences the death of her younger brother.


Want to find out more? The full list of recommended books can be found below:

The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times, Michelle Obama.

Sea of Tranquillity, Emily St. John Mandel.

Trust, Hernan Diaz.

The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams, Stacy Schiff.

The Furrows: A Novel, Namwali Serpell.

South to America: A Journey below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation, Imani Perry.

The School for Good Mothers, Jessamine Chan.

Black Cake, Charmaine Wilkerson.

Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands, Kate Beaton.

An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms around Us, Ed Young.

Liberation Day, George Saunders.

The Candy House, Jennifer Egan.

Afterlives, Abdulrazak Gurnah.

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