President Obama managed to remain an avid reader even during his presidency, and New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani interviewed him about the role of books in his life. Fiction, explains Obama, was more than just a break from briefings and memos. It was "useful as a reminder of the truths under the surface of what we argue about every day and was a way of seeing and hearing the voices, the multitudes of this country." The story is here and the transcript here, and they're filled with plenty of suggested reading. Some highlights:
- Books he put on Malia's Kindle: "Some of them were sort of the usual suspects, so The Naked and the Dead or One Hundred Years of Solitude. ... Then there were some books I think that are not on everybody’s reading list these days, but I remembered as being interesting, like The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing (and) The Woman Warrior by Maxine [Hong Kingston].
- Last novel read: The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead. He admired the "reminder of the ways in which the pain of slavery transmits itself across generations, not just in overt ways, but how it changes minds and hearts."
- Two others he liked: "I thought Gone Girl was a well-constructed, well-written book ... and a similar structure, that I thought was a really powerful novel: Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff."
- Perspective: He liked the sci-fi novel Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin. "That was fun to read, partly because my day-to-day problems with Congress seem fairly petty," as opposed to invading aliens.
Click for the full transcript
, in which he also praises Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon
and the works of Junot Díaz, Jhumpa Lahiri, Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, and Marilynne Robinson.