Obama Just Told Us About Five More Books He Read This Summer, and Truth Is a Big Theme

August 20, 2018, 9:30 AM UTC

Barack Obama is back with a second round of summer reading recommendations for 2018.

In July, the former president released a list inspired by his first trip to Africa since the end of his presidency. Coming in the days after President Trump characterized the African continent as “vicious and violent,” Obama’s list of books by African authors was an implicit critique of the current president’s stance.

That critical undertone is not gone in Obama’s second summer reading list of 2018. In introducing his list, the former president said the books had “reaffirmed my faith in our ability to move forward together when we seek the truth,” an implicit critique of an administration that has been accused of peddling lies.

Here’s what Obama is reading right now:

Educated by Tara Westover

This book is a memoir of Westover’s education, from her faith-based childhood education at home to her Cambridge doctorate. Obama remarks at the “great understanding and love for the world she leaves behind” that Westover shows throughout the book.

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

Ondaatje tells the story of two children left in London by their parents during World War II. As one of the children remembers his adolescence and then tries to piece together the story of his parents, the book plays with the nature of memory and provides vivid images along the way. Obama calls it “a meditation on the lingering effects of war on family.”

A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul

Obama marked the passing of V.S. Naipaul in August by re-reading what he called the author’s “first great novel about growing up in Trinidad and the challenge of post-colonial identity.”

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

This novel describes the impact of wrongful conviction on a family after a husband is sent to jail for a sexual assault he didn’t commit. This may be a subtle suggestion that the “American carnage” approach to solving crime may not be the best one.

Factfulness by Hans Rosling

In the most-direct dig at President Trump, Obama closed off his list by recommending a hopeful book about the potential for human progress when we work off facts rather than our inherent biases. Written by a Swedish physician and also endorsed by Bill Gates, Obama’s final pick stands out from the rest of his fiction and memoir picks.