Books and Culture

Barack Obama reveals the books, movies and music he most enjoyed in 2018

Former U.S. President Barack Obama answers questions at the Gates Foundation Inaugural Goalkeepers event on September 20, 2017 in New York City.
Yana Paskova | Getty Images

On Friday, former President Barack Obama shared his annual year-end list of the books, movies and music that he "found most provoking, inspiring, or just plain loved" in 2018.

"It also gives me a chance to highlight talented authors, artists, and storytellers — some who are household names and others who you may not have heard of before," Obama wrote in a Facebook post on Dec. 28.

"As 2018 draws to a close, I'm continuing a favorite tradition of mine and sharing my year-end lists," he wrote.

Obama started the tradition of sharing his reading lists and playlists during his presidency as a "nice way to reflect on the works that resonated with me and lift up authors and artists from around the world."

Before leaving the White House, Obama told The New York Times that reading books allowed him to maintain his balance during his eight years as president. At the end of 2017, almost a full year out of the White House, Obama noted that he had "some extra time" on his hands to catch up on leisure entertainment.

Unsurprisingly, his top-recommended book is wife Michelle Obama's recent autobiography, "Becoming," which quickly became a bestseller and was featured on many of this year's gift guides. "Obviously my favorite!" he wrote.

Other notable selections are "Educated" by Tara Westover, which also made Bill Gates' 2018 most-recommended reading list, Golden Globe-nominated film "Black Panther" and music by Grammy Award-winning artist Chance the Rapper.

Here are the books, movies and songs Obama most enjoyed in 2018.

Obama's favorite books of 2018:

  1. "Becoming" by Michelle Obama
  2. "An American Marriage" by Tayari Jones
  3. "Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  4. "The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects the Way We Think, Live, and Die" by Keith Payne
  5. "Educated" by Tara Westover
  6. "Factfulness" by Hans Rosling
  7. "Futureface: A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging" by Alex Wagner
  8. "A Grain of Wheat" by Ngugi wa Thiong'o
  9. "A House for Mr Biswas" by V.S. Naipaul
  10. "How Democracies Die" by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt
  11. "In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History" by Mitch Landrieu
  12. "Long Walk to Freedom" by Nelson Mandela
  13. "The New Geography of Jobs" by Enrico Moretti
  14. "The Return" by Hisham Matar
  15. "Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe
  16. "Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
  17. "Why Liberalism Failed" by Patrick Deneen
  18. "The World As It Is" by Ben Rhodes
  19. "American Prison" by Shane Bauer
  20. "Arthur Ashe: A Life" by Raymond Arsenault
  21. "Asymmetry" by Lisa Halliday
  22. "Feel Free" by Zadie Smith
  23. "Florida" by Lauren Groff
  24. "Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom" by David W. Blight
  25. "Immigrant, Montana" by Amitava Kumar
  26. "The Largesse of the Sea Maiden" by Denis Johnson
  27. "Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence" by Max Tegmark
  28. "There There" by Tommy Orange
  29. "Washington Black" by Esi Edugyan

Obama's favorite movies of 2018:

  1. "Annihilation"
  2. "Black Panther"
  3. "BlacKkKlansman"
  4. "Blindspotting"
  5. "Burning"
  6. "The Death of Stalin"
  7. "Eighth Grade"
  8. "If Beale Street Could Talk"
  9. "Leave No Trace"
  10. "Minding the Gap"
  11. "The Rider"
  12. "Roma"
  13. "Shoplifters"
  14. "Support the Girls"
  15. "Won't You Be My Neighbor"

Obama's favorite songs of 2018:

  1. "Apes--t" by The Carters
  2. "Bad Bad News" by Leon Bridges
  3. "Could've Been" by H.E.R. (feat. Bryson Tiller)
  4. "Disco Yes" by Tom Misch (feat. Poppy Ajudha)
  5. "Ekombe" by Jupiter & Okwess
  6. "Every Time I Hear That Song" by Brandi Carlile
  7. "Girl Goin' Nowhere" by Ashley McBryde
  8. "Historia De Un Amor" by Tonina (feat. Javier Limón and Tali Rubinstein)
  9. "I Like It" by Cardi B (feat. Bad Bunny and J Balvin)
  10. "Kevin's Heart" by J. Cole
  11. "King For A Day" by Anderson East
  12. "Love Lies" by Khalid & Normani
  13. "Make Me Feel" by Janelle Monáe
  14. "Mary Don't You Weep (Piano & A Microphone 1983 Version)" by Prince
  15. "My Own Thing" by Chance the Rapper (feat. Joey Purp)
  16. "Need a Little Time" by Courtney Barnett
  17. "Nina Cried Power" by Hozier (feat. Mavis Staples)
  18. "Nterini" by Fatoumata Diawara
  19. "One Trick Ponies" by Kurt Vile
  20. "Turnin' Me Up" by BJ the Chicago Kid
  21. "Wait by the River" by Lord Huron
  22. "Wow Freestyle" by Jay Rock (feat. Kendrick Lamar)

Obama also added a classic album, "The Great American Songbook," to honor the late artist Nancy Wilson, whom he called "one of the great jazz singers of all time."

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Former U.S. President Barack Obama answers questions at the Gates Foundation Inaugural Goalkeepers event on September 20, 2017 in New York City.
Yana Paskova | Getty Images
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