Barack Obama has revealed his summer reading list, including titles from Toni Morrison, Colson Whitehead, Ted Chiang and Hilary Mantel.
He wrote: “To start, you can't go wrong by reading or re-reading the collected works of Toni Morrison. Beloved, Song of Solomon, The Bluest Eye, Sula, everything else — they're transcendent, all of them. You’ll be glad you read them.”
Obama described Whitehead’s latest, The Nickel Boys (Little, Brown), as “a necessary read, detailing the way Jim Crow and mass incarceration tore apart lives and wrought consequences that ripple into today.”
He also picked out Chiang’s collection of sci-fi short stories, Exhalation (Picador) as a book “that will make you think, grapple with big questions, and feel more human.”
Recommending Wolf Hall (Fourth Estate), he joked: “Hilary Mantel’s epic fictionalized look at Thomas Cromwell’s rise to power, came out in 2009, but I was a little busy back then, so I missed it. Still great today.”
Other titles included Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami (Vintage), American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson (Dialogue), The Shallows by Nicholas Carr (Atlantic) and “beautifully written memoir” Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (Fleet).
He also picked Téa Obreht’s new novel Inland (W&N), How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu (Vintage) and Stephanie Land’s “unflinching” Maid (Trapeze).
Obama published his list in the same week his successor, Donald Trump, gave further details on his tariffs on books imported from China.
The policy has been described by the Association of American Publishers as “a tax on information”.