A Promised Land

I’m a huge admirer of Barack Obama. He’s a devoted family man, super-smart, hardworking, accomplished, decent, kind and honest (no need for him to consider a self-pardon when he left office). He exudes coolness and has a seemingly effortless ability to connect with others. Oh, and the former American president is also an inspiring speaker and writer. Which brings me to…

91uwocAMtSLA Promised Land, the first volume of Barack Obama’s eagerly awaited memoirs. Translated into 19 languages and with millions of copies printed, it’s shaping up to be a mega bestseller. Here at WPL there is a huge demand for the book. The last time I checked the holds list stretches to 100+ names. I stand about number 40 in the list, so alas I won’t be reading the book any time soon.

Here are some other top Obama picks for your consideration.

He is the author of two previous books, both bestsellers. Dreams From My Father (1995) is about Obama, the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas, wrestling with his identity and trying to find his place in the world. The Audacity of Hope (2006) lays out Obama’s political vision. Both books are deeply thoughtful, elegantly written books.

Here are two personal faves from a few years back – and that are currently enjoying a second run on the New York Times bestseller list. Both titles are by Pete Souza, Obama’s official White House photographer. Obama: an Intimate Portrait is an oversized book packed with 300 of Souza’s superb photos. Some are formal occasions, some show Obama with the full weight of the office on his shoulders. My favourite photos are the more light-hearted ones, the president hanging out with his family or interacting with ordinary Americans.

Pete Souza displays a sly sense of humour in the second title, Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents. Souza pairs one of his own Obama photos with a newspaper headline or a presidential tweet from the Donald Trump era in order to make a comparison between the two men (spoiler alert: Souza does not care for Trump.) Here’s a sample: a Washington Post article noting Trump has “utterly failed” in his role as consoler in chief is paired with a photo of Obama at a funeral embracing people who had family members killed at a church shooting. Such a stark, worlds-apart contrast between the two.

If you somehow missed out on reading Becoming by Michelle Obama, now is the perfect time. The book has finally dropped off the best seller list, and a copy is probably sitting on the library shelf just waiting for you. Her story is amazing, from a humble Chicago background to Harvard law school to First Lady of the United States. Michelle Obama is so relatable, such a genuine, smart, classy and two-feet solidly-on the-ground kind of person. I highly recommend this book.

— Penny D.