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President Obama's Top Books of 2020

President Obama's Top Books of 2020

President Obama shares his favorite reads of the year with us—and, of course, we included his own.

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Missionaries

A Novel

By Phil Klay
Narrated by: MacLeod Andrews, Cynthia Farrell, Henry Leyva & Anthony Rey Perez
Length: 14 hours 28 minutes

One of President Obama's Favorite Books of the Year | A New York Times Notable Book | One of the Wall Street Journal Ten Best Books of the Year

"Missionaries is a courageous book: It doesn’t shy away, as so much fiction does, from the real world.” —Juan Gabriel Vásquez, The New York Times Book Review

“A sweeping, interconnected novel of ideas in...
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Sharks in the Time of Saviors

By Kawai Strong Washburn
Narrated by: Tui Asau, G.K. Bowes, Kaleo Griffith & Jolene Kim
Length: 10 hours 37 minutes

Sharks in the Time of Saviors

“Night Marchers, gods, goddesses, and the dead all walk Hawaii with the Flores family, if only they can stop struggling to survive long enough to see them. At seven years old, Nainoa falls into the Pacific only to be brought back to his mother in the mouth of a shark, unharmed and now burdened with the rumor of legend. Noa struggles to understand his gift and what he is supposed to do with it, and each of his family members grapples with their role as well. Every character is imbued with the truths of family and the magic of legend and you will not close this book unchanged. Beautiful and a must read! The readers on Libro.fm grant entrance in to this world with an authenticity difficult to obtain otherwise.”

Cellar Door Books image Linda, Cellar Door Books
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The Ministry for the Future

A Novel

By Kim Stanley Robinson
Narrated by: Jennifer Fitzgerald, Fajer Al-Kaisi, Ramon de Ocampo, Gary Bennett, Raphael Corkhill, Barrie Kreinik, Natasha Soudek, Nikki Massoud, Joniece Abbott Pratt, Inés del Castillo & Vikas Adam
Length: 20 hours 42 minutes

From legendary science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson comes a remarkable vision of climate change over the coming decades. 

The Ministry for the Future is a masterpiece of the imagination, using fictional eyewitness accounts to tell the story of how climate change will affect us all. Its setting is not a desolate, postapocalyptic world, but... Read more »

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Hidden Valley Road

Inside the Mind of an American Family

By Robert Kolker
Narrated by: Sean Pratt
Length: 13 hours 8 minutes

OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES TOP TEN BOOKS OF THE YEAR
ONE OF THE WALL STREET JOURNAL TOP TEN BOOKS OF THE YEAR
PEOPLE'S #1 BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
ONE OF GQ's TOP 50 BOOKS OF LITERARY JOURNALISM IN THE 21st CENTURY
Named a BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, TIME, Slate,...
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The Glass Hotel

A novel

By Emily St. John Mandel
Narrated by: Dylan Moore
Length: 10 hours 28 minutes

If you enjoyed The Dutch House, then you’ll love The Glass Hotel.

“This is not a trite story of redemption. It ends with a reunion, perhaps the only meaningful kind of reunion, though it changes nothing. There are dozens of kinds of heartbreak, and none of them are mended in any conventional way. Characters who seemed cruel and characters who seemed incorruptible turn out, in dozens of ways, to be more alike than different, but without cynicism and without sentimentalism. And one perfectly timed revelation at the very end gives two characters precisely the resolution they craved, though the revelation neither draws them together nor has a similar effect on them both. And yet—and yet—this is a book exactly and precisely about redemption, maybe the only kind that ever really makes a positive difference in the world, and it gives hope specifically by showing how multiple lives continue from a crisis into a livable future. Beautifully described, unexpected, and powerful, this is the ghost story we need now.”

The Haunted Bookshop image Nialle, The Haunted Bookshop
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The Vanishing Half

A Novel

By Brit Bennett
Narrated by: Shayna Small
Length: 11 hours 33 minutes

The Vanishing Half

“This is a beautifully written, stunning, and scandalous story about two identical black twin girls, one who runs away from home at age 16. And then their lives completely shift, as one continues living her life as a Black woman, and the other that tries to pass herself off as white. This novel came at just the right time, in the middle of the Black Lives Matter protests and racial unrest in the United States. Brit Bennett has done a brilliant job with her novel! It is compelling and the audiobook on Libro.fm is exceptional!”

BookBar image Marilyn, BookBar
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The Undocumented Americans

By Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
Narrated by: Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
Length: 4 hours 53 minutes

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • One of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard reveals the hidden lives of her fellow undocumented Americans in this deeply personal and groundbreaking portrait of a nation.

“Karla’s book sheds light on people’s personal experiences and allows their stories to be told and their voices to be... Read more »

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Deacon King Kong

A Novel

By James McBride
Narrated by: Dominic Hoffman
Length: 14 hours 5 minutes

Deacon King Kong

“An amazing cast of characters and compelling storyline coupled with fantastic dialogue delivers a dynamic novel. One one level this is a great story, but on so many other levels it touches on the Great Migration and class and society - and also how regular folks cross many divides to simply just support each other through life. A great audiobook as well.”

Flyleaf Books image Jamie, Flyleaf Books
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Twilight of Democracy

The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism

By Anne Applebaum
Narrated by: Anne Applebaum
Length: 5 hours 15 minutes

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • "How did our democracy go wrong? This extraordinary document ... is Applebaum's answer." —Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny

The Pulitzer Prize–winning historian explains, with electrifying clarity, why elites in democracies around the world are turning toward nationalism and authoritarianism.


From the United States and... Read more »

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Memorial Drive

A Daughter's Memoir

By Natasha Trethewey
Narrated by: Natasha Trethewey
Length: 5 hours 9 minutes

Memorial Drive

“Natasha Trethewey was 19 when her mother was murdered by her stepfather in 1985. For decades, she hid the event, and memories of her mother, in the recesses of her mind while she went on to win a Pulitzer Prize and become the Poet Laureate of the United States. Now, decades later, she opens herself up to her past to produce a harrowing yet beautiful memorial.”

Northshire Bookstore image Mike , Northshire Bookstore
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Long Bright River

A Novel

By Liz Moore
Narrated by: Allyson Ryan
Length: 13 hours 18 minutes

Long Bright River

“This was a great book to listen to on audio. Based in the heart of the opioid epidemic in Philadelphia, this book was well-crafted with very realistic characters that made it feel and read like a memoir. It is suspenseful and unpredictable and kept me guessing (incorrectly) until the end. I recommend this for people looking for a somewhat atypical thriller/suspense story.”

Tattered Cover image Chelsea, Tattered Cover
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How Much of These Hills Is Gold

A Novel

By C Pam Zhang
Narrated by: Catherine Ho & Joel de la Fuente
Length: 9 hours 8 minutes

How Much of These Hills Is Gold

“Lucy and Sam are alone in a land that challenges their very existence. The night took their Ma then their Ba 3 years later. Left to bury their Ba and survive in the barren hills spotted with gold rushers and coal mines, Lucy and Sam must face their legacy and futures in the west. Zhang’s storytelling is reminiscent of Toni Morrison’s. Her character work is bewitching. Heck, she makes the landscape itself a character to be loved and feared. If you are looking for an immersive, literary marvel, then pick this book up.”

Off the Beaten Path image Izzy, Off the Beaten Path
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Luster

A Novel

By Raven Leilani
Narrated by: Ariel Blake
Length: 6 hours 39 minutes

Luster

“Luster is a hand grenade disguised as a coming of age novel. It's everything you want in a bildungsroman -- it's intimate, funny, and daring -- but in Raven Leilani's skilled hands it is also volatile and complex, a profound meditation on the intersection of race and loneliness, a thorny examination of sexuality and trauma, of power and privilege, and the subtle interplay between all of the above. It's also so absorbing and compelling that it's hard not to read it in one sitting. With 4 months to go, this is my favorite book published in 2020 so far.”

The Book Table image Rachel, The Book Table
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The Splendid and the Vile

A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

By Erik Larson
Narrated by: John Lee & Erik Larson
Length: 17 hours 48 minutes

The Splendid and the Vile

“Thoroughly researched non-fiction that reads like a novel. Covers Winston Churchill and his family and close associates through the horrible Luftwaffe bombings of London and nearby cities during 1940-41. Shows Churchill leading his country against seemingly impossible odds through the sheer force of personality. Excellent book even for those who would not ordinarily pick up a work of history.”

Bookstore1Sarasota image Georgia, Bookstore1Sarasota
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Caste (Oprah's Book Club)

The Origins of Our Discontents

By Isabel Wilkerson
Narrated by: Robin Miles
Length: 14 hours 25 minutes

Caste (Oprah's Book Club)

“Possibly one of the most important books I've read in the last decade. Caste examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America. Wondering how America came to this? This book has brutal, unflinching answers.”

A Great Good Place for Books image Zinna, A Great Good Place for Books
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Jack (Oprah's Book Club)

A Novel

By Marilynne Robinson
Narrated by: Adam Verner
Length: 10 hours 26 minutes

"Robinson’s slow prose is the star here, and narrator Adam Verner gives great depth of emotion to Jack’s raw suffering and ethical dilemmas...Come for the love story; stay for a couple who learn to find the beauty in broken humanity, and what grace can look like for those who love each other." -- Booklist

This program includes a bonus...

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Homeland Elegies

A Novel

By Ayad Akhtar
Narrated by: Ayad Akhtar
Length: 10 hours 19 minutes

Homeland Elegies

“A masterful blend of memoir and fiction, this is an unforgettable journey through the lives of a Muslim family finding their place in a post-9/11 America. A searing navigation of the loves we try to reconcile — familial, religious, societal — and the definition of home. Written with wisdom, wit, and unsparing honesty, this an important book that you will continue to contemplate for a very long time. Both intimate and epic, this is a must-read.”

East Bay Booksellers image Pam Stirling, East Bay Booksellers
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A Promised Land

By Barack Obama
Narrated by: Barack Obama
Length: 29 hours 9 minutes

A Promised Land

“No one really needs my blurb to help sell this book, but I wanted to give it anyway, especially for the audiobook, narrated by Barack Obama himself. If you want to know his incredible knowledge and wisdom that guided him through major decisions, and also hear him drop a few F-bombs, you need to listen to this fantastically written book. ”

Quail Ridge Books image Amber, Quail Ridge Books
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