Would it really be summer without Barack Obama’s summer reading list?
On Tuesday, the former president released his 2022 picks for the summer season. Coincidentally (or perhaps not?), Obama’s literature selections arrived at the same time as the long list of nominees for this year’s Booker Prize was announced.
“I’ve read some great books this year and wanted to share some of my favorites so far,” Obama wrote on Instagram on Tuesday. “What did you read this summer?”
Titles on Obama’s summer reading list include Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Velvet Was the Night, a noir film set in 1970s Mexico City that was nominated for a 2021 Los Angeles Times Book Award in the mystery thriller category. Earlier this month, Moreno-Garcia spoke to The Times about her ability to write across genres, from fantasy and mystery to horror and sci-fi.
“I ask readers to follow me into the forest,” Moreno-Garcia told the Times. “You won’t get lost, hold my hand and I’ll tell you a story.”
On Tuesday, Moreno-Garcia shared Obama’s reading list on Twitter and hailed her “friend and fellow crime writer” SA Cosby, whose novel “Razorblade Tears,” about two ex-imprisoned men who seek to avenge the deaths of their sons, was also under scrutiny.
“I can’t speak…there are no words,” Cosby tweeted on Tuesday. “I’m crying right now, not Razorblade Tears, but tears of joy All Things Are Possible!!!”
Also “insanely lucky” to be on Obama’s literary radar was Jennifer Egan, whose novel The Candy House, a belated sequel to her Pulitzer Prize-winning A Visit from the Good Squad, centered on a tech mogul who invents a way to access a person’s entire memory.
Another well-known author, Emily St. John Mandel, was having a good year. In addition to Obama’s pick of the bestselling Sea of Tranquility, Mandel has seen “Station Eleven,” a sort of prequel to the new novel, garner critical acclaim and admiration as the HBO Max miniseries that was nominated for seven Emmys .
Other writers who reacted excitedly to Obama’s list on Tuesday include Jessamine Chan, author of The School for Good Mothers. “The best surprise ever,” she wrote on Instagram. “Thanks to my Chicago colleagues and birthday twin @barackobama for this early gift. I want to write something coherent here, but I haven’t had enough caffeine yet, and I’m happily going insane. What an incredible company!”
Another notable novel on Obama’s list: Silverview, the final work of legendary spy author John le Carré, who died in December 2020 at the age of 89.
Yascha Mounk, author of The Great Experiment: Why Diverse Democracies Fall Apart and How They Can Endure, also shared his enthusiasm. “Barack Obama is the American politician I admire most” Mounk tweeted. “I’m… giddy with excitement to learn that he has read and enjoyed The Great Experiment (and decided to add it to his summer reading list)!” Rarely speechless, but…”
Obama listed another political non-fiction book, Ezra Klein’s Why We’re Polarized. Both picks reflected the former president’s centrist, coalition-building brand of liberalism — rounding out a list that, at least among the bibliographical community, seems solidly in the middle.
None of Obama’s selected books overlapped with the 2022 Booker Prize longlist, which included the works of NoViolet Bulawayo, Hernan Diaz, Percival Everett, Karen Joy Fowler, Alan Garner, Shehan Karunatilaka, Claire Keegan, Graeme Macrae Burnet, Audrey Magee and Maddie Mortimer contains , Leila Mottley, Selby Wynn Schwartz and Elizabeth Strout.
See Obama’s complete summer reading list below:
- “Sea of Calm” by Emily St. John Mandel
- “Why We’re Polarized” by Ezra Klein
- The Candy House by Jennifer Egan
- “A Little Devil in America: In Praise of Black Achievement” by Hanif Abdurraqib
- “Into Paradise” by Hanya Yanagihara
- “Silverview” by John le Carre
- “Black Cake” by Charmaine Wilkerson
- “The Chao Family” by Lan Samantha Chang
- “Velvet was the Night” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
- “Mouth to Mouth” by Antoine Wilson
- “The Great Experiment: Why different democracies fall apart and how they can survive” by Yascha Mounk
- “The School for Good Mothers” by Jessamine Chan
- SA Cosby’s Razorblade Tears
- “Blood in the Garden: The Flagrant Story of the 1990’s New York Knicks” by Chris Herring
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/books/story/2022-07-26/barack-obama-summer-reading-list-booker-prize-nominees-2022 Barack Obama summer reading list, Booker Prize noms released