Obama shares his favourite reads of 2020

Obama shares his favourite reads of 2020

Barack Obama has released a 17-strong list of his favourite books of the year, spanning memoir, fiction and non-fiction, including Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar (Tinder Press), How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang (Virago) and Isabel Wilkerson's Caste (Allen Lane).

Obama joked he was "deliberately omitting what I think is a pretty good book" by excluding his own bestselling memoir A Promised Land (Viking), and said of the 17 books selected: "I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I did."

The list comprised, in addition to books from Akhtar, Zhang and Wilkerson, Raven Leilani's debut Luster (Picador), Marilynne Robinson's fifth novel Jack (Virago), Erik Larson's The Splendid and the Vile (William Collins), and Liz Moore's Long Bright River (Cornerstone). 

Also celebrated were titles Memorial Drive by former US poet laureate Natasha Trethewey (Bloomsbury); Twilight of Democracy by Anne Applebaum (Penguin); Deacon King Kong by National Book Award winner James McBride (Transworld); The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio (PRH US); The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, about the parallel lives of estranged twin sisters (Dialogue Books); Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker (Quercus), about an American family's journey navigating the effects of mental health; The Ministry for the Future by science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit); Sharks in the Time of Saviors by debut writer Kawai Strong Washburn (Canongate); and Missionaries by award-winning short story writer Phil Klay (also Canongate). 

Most books selected are by American authors, but one Canadian made the list: The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel, written six years after the author's dystopia Station Eleven.