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Barack Obama's Favorite Books of 2021

Barack Obama's Favorite Books of 2021

Notably well-read, Barack Obama has an annual tradition of sharing his favorite books of the year. Here are 2021's picks in audiobook format.

Playlist Tags: topic: obama audience: obama fans

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Matrix

A Novel

By Lauren Groff
Narrated by: Adjoa Andoh
Length: 8 hours 51 minutes

Matrix

“In this brilliant work of historical fiction, Lauren Groff reimagines a 12th century in which Marie of France, scorned by the French court and exiled to an impoverished English abbey, uses her keen intellect and iron will to smash through the patriarchy and become one of the most powerful women of her age...British actress Adjoa Andoh is a brilliant narrator, bringing Marie and her cohort of nuns to life throughout half a century of abbey life. In turns mystic, humorous, and poignant, Groff invites us to ask “what if?” What if women throughout history had been allowed to use their skills and smarts as leaders? What would our society, our religions, look like? Matrix provides a powerful springboard for imagining the possibilities.”

Honest Dog Books image Claire, Honest Dog Books
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How the Word Is Passed

A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America

By Clint Smith
Narrated by: Clint Smith
Length: 10 hours 6 minutes

How the Word Is Passed

“Smith has crafted a resource, narrative and detailed explanation into how we teach the legacy of slavery. He recounts visits from everywhere from NYC to the Whitney Plantation, integrating stories of people and visitors today. This book is lays a beautiful written foundation for interrogating the history we've been taught. Particularly phenomenal as an audiobook, Smith's skills as a poet and writer shine bright!”

Wellesley Books image Eliza, Wellesley Books
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The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

By Dawnie Walton
Narrated by: Janina Edwards, Bahni Turpin, James Langton, André De Shields, Dennis Boutsikaris, Steve West, Gabra Zackman & full cast
Length: 13 hours 16 minutes

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

“If you read the first twenty pages of this book and think, like I did "this seems exactly the same as Daisy Jones and the Six KEEP GOING. The way the stories are setup is similar, but Opal and Nev have a unique story that demands to be heard. Walton combines oral music history, intense relationship dynamics, and strong character development to result in an engaging read. I highly recommend the full-cast audiobook on Libro.fm!”

Carmichael's Bookstore image Maggie, Carmichael's Bookstore
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For a limited time, when you sign up for a new monthly membership with code CHOOSEINDIE, we’ll give you a bonus audiobook! That means you’ll have 2 audiobook credits to redeem from the start.

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The Lincoln Highway

A Novel

By Amor Towles
Narrated by: Edoardo Ballerini, Marin Ireland & Dion Graham
Length: 16 hours 38 minutes

The Lincoln Highway

“Loved, loved, LOVED listening to the new Amor Towles book. The story was wonderful, but the readers made it especially enjoyable.”

Island Bookstore image Mary Jane, Island Bookstore
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Invisible Child

Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City

By Andrea Elliott
Narrated by: Adenrele Ojo
Length: 21 hours 9 minutes

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A “vivid and devastating” (The New York Times) portrait of an indomitable girl—from acclaimed journalist Andrea Elliott

“From its first indelible pages to its rich and startling conclusion, Invisible Child had me, by turns, stricken, inspired, outraged, illuminated, in tears, and hungering for... Read more »

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Harlem Shuffle

A Novel

By Colson Whitehead
Narrated by: Dion Graham
Length: 10 hours 35 minutes

Harlem Shuffle

“A tribute to Harlem...a mystery...so well written, and great characters too!”

Bookstore1Sarasota image Elsie, Bookstore1Sarasota
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Cloud Cuckoo Land

A Novel

By Anthony Doerr
Narrated by: Marin Ireland & Simon Jones
Length: 14 hours 51 minutes

If you enjoyed The Shadow of the Wind, then you’ll love Cloud Cuckoo Land.

“I loved this book so much. The intersection of the various stories surrounding a profound awareness of the importance of books was perfect. I also appreciated the weaving of the classic tale intertwined all throughout the book. Each character's story could have been a book all by themselves, but having them all together was brilliant. This is a book that I didn't know I needed, but was the perfect book for the time I listened to it.”

Schuler Books image Tim, Schuler Books
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These Precious Days

Essays

By Ann Patchett
Narrated by: Ann Patchett
Length: 11 hours 13 minutes

These Precious Days

“I loved absolutely everything about this book and did not want it to end. Ann Patchett's narration is magical and I believe is best way to experience her writing. Though these are essays, they are expertly arranged and together feel like a memoir. Patchett talks about everything from life and death to bookstores and book covers and you immediately want to gift this book to everyone. I could not recommend it highly enough!”

Buttonwood Books and Toys image Kimi, Buttonwood Books and Toys
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Crying in H Mart

A Memoir

By Michelle Zauner
Narrated by: Michelle Zauner
Length: 7 hours 22 minutes

Crying in H Mart

“I was struck by just how much I loved this book for how it walks through grief not as a way to leave it behind, but as a way to remember its exact shape. I’m grateful for its funny, self-deprecating, and wise observations, and for its difficult beauty.”

Parnassus Books image Steve Haruch, Parnassus Books
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Aftershocks

By Nadia Owusu
Narrated by: Nadia Owusu
Length: 8 hours 32 minutes

In the tradition of The Glass Castle, this “gorgeous” (The New York Times, Editors’ Choice) and deeply felt memoir from Whiting Award winner Nadia Owusu tells the “incredible story” (Malala Yousafzai) about the push and pull of belonging, the seismic emotional toll of family secrets, and the heart it takes to pull through.

“In Aftershocks, Nadia... Read more »

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Crossroads

A Novel

By Jonathan Franzen
Narrated by: David Pittu
Length: 24 hours 56 minutes

Crossroads

Crossroads is Franzen's first novel since the National Book Award winning The Corrections that smacks of his original genius. Gloriously the tale of a 1960's Chicago minister led family of six is the start of a trilogy. The type of book you can't put down, I banned it from night time reading due to the thrilling descent of some of the characters. Hungry for the next two, which is saying something considering the book's 500+ pages.”

Bookstore1Sarasota image Roxanne, Bookstore1Sarasota
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The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

An Oprah’s Book Club Novel

By Honoree Fanonne Jeffers
Narrated by: Adenrele Ojo, Karen Chilton & Prentice Onayemi
Length: 29 hours 48 minutes

If you enjoyed The Underground Railroad (Television Tie-in), then you’ll love The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois.

“At 29 hours this one might seem like quite a commitment, but after traveling the century with them, you’ll deeply miss the echoes of the voices of Ailey and Belle and even good old Uncle Root.”

The Country Bookshop image Angie, The Country Bookshop
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Beautiful Country

A Memoir

By Qian Julie Wang
Narrated by: Qian Julie Wang
Length: 9 hours 38 minutes

Beautiful Country

“In this brutally honest coming-of-age memoir, Qian Julie Wang comes to terms with the deprivations and struggles of her undocumented Chinese upbringing in New York City in the 1990s.”

Kayleen Rohrer image Kayleen Rohrer, InkLink Books
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At Night All Blood Is Black

A Novel

By David Diop
Narrated by: Dion Graham
Length: 2 hours 57 minutes

WINNER OF THE 2021 INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for fiction

"Astonishingly good." —Lily Meyer, NPR
"So incantatory and visceral I don’t think I’ll ever forget it." —Ali Smith, The Guardian | Best Books of 2020

One of The Wall Street Journal's 11 best books of the fall | One of The A.V. Club's fifteen best...

Read more »

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Land Of Big Numbers

Stories

By Te-Ping Chen
Narrated by: Eddy Lee, Fiona Rene, Matt Yang King, Christine Lakin, Katie Tang, Chris Naoki Lee & Lynn Chen
Length: 6 hours 35 minutes

Land Of Big Numbers

“I loved this stunning debut collection of stories. Chen digs deep and uses her experience as a foreign correspondent to portray the voices and lives of people living in modern China. These stories will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading the book. Highly recommended.”

Square Books image Cody Morrison, Square Books
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Empire of Pain

The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty

By Patrick Radden Keefe
Narrated by: Patrick Radden Keefe
Length: 18 hours 6 minutes

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE NOMINEE A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • A grand, devastating portrait of three generations of the Sackler family, famed for their philanthropy, whose fortune was built by Valium and whose reputation was destroyed by OxyContin. From the prize-winning and bestselling author of... Read more »

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When We Cease to Understand the World

By Benjamin Labatut
Narrated by: Adam Barr
Length: 5 hours 40 minutes

When We Cease to Understand the World is a book about the complicated links between scientific and mathematical discovery, madness, and destruction. Fritz Haber, Alexander Grothendieck, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger—these are some of the luminaries into whose troubled lives Benjamín Labatut thrusts the listener, showing us how they... Read more »

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Under a White Sky

The Nature of the Future

By Elizabeth Kolbert
Narrated by: Rebecca Lowman
Length: 6 hours 21 minutes

Under a White Sky

Under a White Sky is a scary book. It's about climate change, invasive species, and how Louisiana is disappearing into the ocean. It's about how humans, as a species, have screwed up the planet, and how we tend to screw it up more when we try to fix our mistakes. It's also about how we're developing a bunch of new fixes to go after our old mistakes. It's depressing at times, darkly comic at others, and absolutely fascinating throughout. This is a great book for people who want to see where we are now, how we got here, and how scientists are imagining new ways to get us out. Recommended reading for anyone who cares about the planet and wants to read about environmental topics that are perhaps not yet mainstream, but that we will come to reckon with in the near future.”

Page 1 Books image Spenser, Page 1 Books
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Things We Lost to the Water

A novel

By Eric Nguyen
Narrated by: Quyen Ngo
Length: 10 hours 38 minutes

A captivating novel about an immigrant Vietnamese family who settles in New Orleans and struggles to remain connected to one another as their lives are inextricably reshaped. This stunning debut is "vast in scale and ambition, while luscious and inviting … in its intimacy” (The New York Times Book Review).

When Huong arrives in New Orleans with... Read more »

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Leave the World Behind

A Novel

By Rumaan Alam
Narrated by: Marin Ireland
Length: 7 hours 26 minutes

Leave the World Behind

“Eerie and timely, Leave the World Behind will be the next book to talk about. Rumaan Alam is now solidified as a must-read author for me. He lures the reader in with excellent character development as well as family drama when the book takes a sudden turn. Slowly and masterfully, he starts building tension and suspense while teasing the reader with ominous threats in the background. Before you know it, you’ve stayed up half the night racing to the end of the book. It’s a fast read but a powerful book asking important questions.”

BookShop West Portal image Katerina, BookShop West Portal
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