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Barack Obama lists 2018 favorites: Black Panther, Annihilation, Cardi B


Most of us will never get to say we were a former president of the United States, but that doesn’t mean we can’t read books and watch movies like one. On Friday, former President Barack Obama revealed his favorite movies, books and songs for 2018. 

Compiling the list “gives me a moment to pause and reflect on the year through the books, movies and music that I found most thought-provoking, inspiring, or just plain loved,” Obama wrote on Facebook. “It also gives me a chance to highlight talented authors, artists, and storytellers — some who are household names and others who you may not have heard of before.” 

Superheroes, Mister Rogers and alien invasions

Marvel’s blockbuster superhero movie Black Panther and the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor, based on the Mister Rogers, Neighborhood children’s TV series, topped Obama’s movie list. 

Cerebral sci-fi thriller Annihilation, directed by Alex Garland and based on Jeff VanderMeer’s book of the same name, also made Obama’s must-see list.

More suggestions include BlacKkKlansman, Blindspotting, Burning, The Death of Stalin, Eighth Grade, If Beale Street Could Talk, Leave No Trace, Minding the Gap, The Rider, Roma, Shoplifters and Support the Girls.

Memoirs and history books

Obama’s top book recommendation is his wife Michelle’s recent best-selling autobiography, Becoming. “Obviously my favorite!” he wrote.

Tara Westover’s Educated, a memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a Ph.D. from Cambridge University also made the list. (Bill Gates added the book to his own 2018 most-recommended reading list).

Other books Obama read this year include:

  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects the Way We Think, Live, and Die by Keith Payne
  • Factfulness by Hans Rosling
  • Futureface: A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging by Alex Wagner
  • A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiong’o
  • A House for Mr Biswas by V.S. Naipaul
  • How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt
  • In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History by Mitch Landrieu
  • Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
  • The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti
  • The Return by Hisham Matar
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • Warlight by Michael Ondaatje
  • Why Liberalism Failed by Patrick Deneen
  • The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes
  • Of the books that came out in 2018 specifically, Obama enjoyed reading:

  • American Prison by Shane Bauer
  • Arthur Ashe: A Life by Raymond Arsenault
  • Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday 
  • Feel Free by Zadie Smith 
  • Florida by Lauren Groff 
  • Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight
  • Immigrant, Montana by Amitava Kumar
  • The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson
  • Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark 
  • There There by Tommy Orange 
  • Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Getting down with Obama’s favorite tunes

Obama enjoyed a range of rap, jazz and popular hits during the year. Some of his top picks: 

  • Apes••t by The Carters
  • Bad Bad News by Leon Bridges
  • Could’ve Been by H.E.R. (feat. Bryson Tiller)
  • Disco Yes by Tom Misch (feat. Poppy Ajudha)
  • Ekombe by Jupiter & Okwess 
  • Every Time I Hear That Song by Brandi Carlile 
  • Girl Goin’ Nowhere by Ashley McBryde 
  • Historia De Un Amor by Tonina (feat. Javier Limón and Tali Rubinstein)
  • I Like It by Cardi B (feat. Bad Bunny and J Balvin) 
  • Kevin’s Heart by J. Cole
  • King For A Day by Anderson East
  • Love Lies by Khalid & Normani 
  • Make Me Feel by Janelle Monáe 
  • Mary Don’t You Weep (Piano & A Microphone 1983 Version) by Prince
  • My Own Thing by Chance the Rapper (feat. Joey Purp) 
  • Need a Little Time by Courtney Barnett 
  • Nina Cried Power by Hozier (feat. Mavis Staples)
  • Nterini by Fatoumata Diawara 
  • One Trick Ponies by Kurt Vile
  • Turnin’ Me Up by BJ the Chicago Kid 
  • Wait by the River by Lord Huron 
  • Wow Freestyle by Jay Rock (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
  • Also “in honor of one of the great jazz singers of all time, who died this year, a classic album: The Great American Songbook by Nancy Wilson,” Obama added.

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