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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

“Lauren Groff said “medieval historical fiction about Marie de France & Eleanor of Aquitaine,” and she had my curiosity. Lauren Groff said “prophesying Sapphic warrior nuns” and she had my attention. Narrated by literal actual goddess Adjoa Andoh, this book is bananas good. It was as if Groff was looking directly at my "Auto-Read" criteria when she was writing Matrix, and I utterly loved it - it's gorgeous, lyrical, unapologetic, defiant, and beautiful, and I would have spent hours more with the characters and the world she created.”

One More Page image Rebecca, One More Page
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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

If you enjoyed Daisy Jones & The Six, then you’ll love The Final Revival of Opal & Nev.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev absolutely shines in its full cast audio production. Organized as a series of interviews interspersed with editor notes, this book reads like a documentary-style non-fiction book but is actually FICTION which blows my mind. I felt like I read this book in its true format. The audiobook narration was SPOT ON with the full cast coming together to give so much life and personality to this cast of characters. I felt like I was listening to an in-depth podcast and with the mentioning of real life musicians and stars, I had to do a double take and make sure this book wasn't rooted in fact. Walton's Opal Jewel was someone I wish existed in real life. I could see her inspiration in all the Black female stars of the era but Opal was also a force of her own and had so much depth and life. I also really enjoyed her best friend and stylist Virgil (narrated by the indomitable Andre de Shields). This book not only tackled the pure drama of the rock and roll scene but also racial and gender issues of the era. This book is great for any music or rock and roll fan as well as fans of Daisy Jones and the Six. And do yourself a favor and devour this beauty as an audiobook!!”

Buttonwood Books and Toys image Kimi, Buttonwood Books and Toys
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Special offer

Free audiobook with membership

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 • 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 reimmersion in its... 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 love letter to 1960s Harlem that’s also a heist novel, a family saga, and so much more. Colson Whitehead proves once again that he’s always at the top of his game!”

Copper Dog Books image Alyssa Raymond, Copper Dog Books
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Cloud Cuckoo Land

A Novel

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

Cloud Cuckoo Land

“Anthony Doerr's novel Cloud Cuckoo Land is a triumph. This cautionary yet hopeful tale of five very different people obsessed with one ancient book will transport you to Constantinople 600 years ago, present-day Idaho, and to a spaceship a generation or two in the future. It's not too late to be good stewards of Mother Earth. Cloud Cuckoo Land reminds us that the children might just save us all.”

Avid Bookshop image Rachel, Avid Bookshop
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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

“This fraught and claustrophobic psychological thriller begins innocently enough, with a family leaving New York for a long weekend at a rented house near the beach. They enjoy the luxury and languor of their getaway, until the house's owners, an older Black couple, show up unexpectedly, late at night, fleeing from a wide-spread power outage in the city. The two families settle into a routine of forced camaraderie, unable to get news from the outside world, and relying increasingly on each other. But as the consequences of the unnamed disaster become more apparent, the veneer of civilization slides away as survival becomes less of a given. With only rare glimpses beyond the perspectives of the main characters, Leave the World Behind plunges the listener into the same tense, paranoid state that the characters experience as their fears evolve from mundane concerns to unimaginable horrors. Give yourself time to listen to the whole thing in one go, because you won't be able to stop until you reach the end.”

Inklings Bookshop image Emily, Inklings Bookshop
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