Fill Your 2021 Bookshelf With These Barack Obama-Approved Titles

updated Jan 3, 2021
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Credit: Evan El-Amin

Bookworms, rejoice: Barack Obama, a book influencer in his own right, continued his annual tradition of sharing his favorite year-end titles. The former U.S. president spotlights his favorite songs, TV shows and films, and books on social media every December—and this month, we’ll be incorporating Barry’s favorite 2020 books into our 2021 bookshelves. Works of fiction, autobiographies, and political history are some of the genres represented in Obama’s compilation of 17 books. Check out a few highlights (and the full list!) below.

“Homeland Elegies” by Ayad Akhtar

Credit: Amazon

Synopsis: Described as “part family drama, part social essay, part picaresque novel,” “Homeland Elegies” chronicles the story of a Muslim-American father and son in a post-9/11 nation, contending with longing and dispossession. 

Credit: Amazon

Synopsis: Through historical and researched narratives (as well as stories about real people), “Caste” examines the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, highlighting how the hierarchies are experienced every day. 

“The Undocumented Americans” by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

Credit: Amazon

Synopsis: One of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard, Villavicencio’s “The Undocumented Americans” offers an unflinching look into the lives of the undocumented, bringing to light stories of resilience. 

Credit: Amazon

Synopsis: Set against the backdrop of the American gold rush, “How Much of These Hills is Gold” follows two orphaned siblings of Chinese immigrants who find themselves alone in a country that refutes their existence. 

“The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett

Credit: Amazon

Synopsis: A story of sisterhood and personal identity, “The Vanishing Half” examines twin siblings divided by race, highlighting the concept of “racial passing” among two individuals who live in different worlds.

For Obama’s unabridged list, see below. 

Tell us: Which titles have you read or plan to read?