By Don Reisinger
July 13, 2018

If you’re looking for something new to read this summer and don’t know where to look, a former President might not be such a bad idea.

Earlier on Friday, former President Barack Obama said that he’ll soon be traveling to Africa. He noted in a Facebook post that he’s “often drawn inspiration from Africa’s extraordinary literary tradition.” So, as he prepares for his trip, he shared some of his favorites for your summer reading list. And some of them are inspired by “Africa’s best writers and thinkers — each of whom illuminate our world in powerful and unique ways.”

Here’s the former President’s list:

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

From Obama: “A true classic of world literature, this novel paints a picture of traditional society wrestling with the arrival of foreign influence, from Christian missionaries to British colonialism. A masterpiece that has inspired generations of writers in Nigeria, across Africa, and around the world.”

Buy It Here

A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiong’o

From Obama: “A chronicle of the events leading up to Kenya’s independence, and a compelling story of how the transformative events of history weigh on individual lives and relationships.”

Buy It Here

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

From Obama: “Mandela’s life was one of the epic stories of the 20th century. This definitive memoir traces the arc of his life from a small village, to his years as a revolutionary, to his long imprisonment, and ultimately his ascension to unifying President, leader, and global icon. Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand history—and then go out and change it.”

Buy It Here

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

From Obama: “From one of the world’s great contemporary writers comes the story of two Nigerians making their way in the U.S. and the UK, raising universal questions of race and belonging, the overseas experience for the African diaspora, and the search for identity and a home.”

Buy It Here

The Return by Hisham Matar

From Obama: “A beautifully-written memoir that skillfully balances a graceful guide through Libya’s recent history with the author’s dogged quest to find his father who disappeared in Gaddafi’s prisons.”

Buy It Here

The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes

From Obama: “It’s true, Ben does not have African blood running through his veins. But few others so closely see the world through my eyes like he can. Ben’s one of the few who’ve been with me since that first presidential campaign. His memoir is one of the smartest reflections I’ve seen as to how we approached foreign policy, and one of the most compelling stories I’ve seen about what it’s actually like to serve the American people for eight years in the White House.”

Buy It Here

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