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Obama Reveals Summer Reading List

By Charlotte Brook

Since first sharing his summer reading lists back during his time in The White House, former US president Barack Obama has become a trusted voice for great recommendations.

Here’s fourteen books he’s read this summer to give you some inspiration to add to your To Be Read list!


Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

In her debut novel, Wilkerson tells the story of siblings Byron and Benny who are left a mysterious inheritance after their mother’s passing, a black cake and a voice recording. They embark on a journey of uncovering the secrets of their mother’s past that challenge everything they thought they knew about their lineage.

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

Jessamine Chan explores the rigid expectations of motherhood as they are under surveillance to always be perfect, if they aren’t, they are sent to a government reform programme where they must earn back the custody of their child. After one bad day and a lapse in judgement, this is the fate of Frida Lui and she must go to the compound to learn how to be a good mother.

Sea of Tranquillity by Emily St John Mandel

Emily St John Mandel’s novel transports readers from Vancouver Island in 1912 to a colony on the moon 300 years later. Following three lives across centuries that are somehow all inexplicably connected by the playing of a violin in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal, it is a story of humanity and discovery.

The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan writes the story of tech entrepreneur Bix Bouton. Bix’s new technology “Own Your Unconscious” gives you access to every memory you’ve ever had and in exchange, you’re able to see the memories of others. But not everyone is overcome with the idea and the consequences soon come to light through a multitude of characters.

To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara

Hanya Yanagihara’s To Paradise spans three centuries of the American experiment. In 1893, New York is one of the Free States where people can live and love however they choose, or so it seems. In 1993, Manhattan faces the AIDs epidemic and in 2093, the world has succumbed to plagues and totalitarian rule. Each era hones in on the lives of an individual facing loss, family drama and the never-ending search for the American “paradise.”

Silverview by John le Carre

After turning in city life for a quiet seaside town, John le Carre’s protagonist is approached by a mysterious visitor who seems to know a lot about his past and is all too interested in the new life he has carved for himself. Elsewhere, a letter turns up at the door of a spy chief in London that leads him to the supposedly innocent seaside town.

The Family Chao by Lan Samantha Chang

The family of Haven’s thirty-five year old Chinese restaurant are put on the stand as the father, Leo, is found dead, presumed to have been murdered. The entire town turns their gaze to the three brothers who have just come back to town and secrets and resentments erupt.

Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Set in Mexico in the 1970s, Maite’s ordinary life becomes anything but when her next-door neighbour Leonora goes missing. She goes on a journey to discover the truth but along the way encounters much more than she bargained for in the form of hitmen, government agents and Russian spies.

Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson

After resuscitating a drowning man, Jeff feels compelled to know more about the life he’s saved. He discovers a Beverly Hills art dealer and is initiated into a world of blurred lines between opportunity and exploitation, delusions and deceit.

Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby

Both ex-cons, a black father and a white father band together after they hear about the murder of their sons, who were once married. Neither having ever fully accepted their son’s sexuality, they must confront their prejudices against them as well as the ones they have of each other if they are to get vengeance.


A Little Devil in America: In Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib

Hanif Abdurraqib reflects on how Black performance is inextricably woven into the fabric of American culture.

Why We’re Polarized by Ezra Klein

Political journalist Ezra Klein makes the case that the 2016 US election wasn’t at all surprising as he shows how and why American politics polarized around identity in the 20th century. He offers a framework for understanding Trump’s rise to power to the Democratic Party’s leftward shift to the politization of everyday culture.

Blood in the Garden: The Flagrant History of the 1990s New York Knicks by Chris Herring

Using original reports and interviews, Herring delves into the origin, evolution and eventual demise of the iconic club in the midst of the NBA’s golden era.

The Great Experiment: Why Diverse Democracies Fall Apart and How They Can Endure by Yascha Mounk

Exploring a past of diverse societies which have suffered from domination and fragmentation, Mounk shows how the past can offer crucial insights for a better future.


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