Barack Obama is a notorious book lover, and Monday’s New York Times contains an interview with the president about his relationship with literature during his two terms in the White House.
“At a time when events move so quickly and so much information is transmitted,” Obama explained, reading allowed him to “slow down and get perspective” and “get in somebody else’s shoes.” Obama said he turned to the writings of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela for a “sense of solidarity” during difficult moments of his presidency.
According to the Times, Obama read works from Liu Cixin’s sci-fi novel The Three-Body Problem to Elizabeth Kolbert’s Pulitzer-winning nonfiction work The Sixth Extinction. He most recently read Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, and said that he gave his daughter Malia a Kindle with beloved books, including Gabriel García Márquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude and Maxine Hong Kingston’s memoir The Woman Warrior.
Reading has long been a central part of Obama’s presidency, from his buzzy vacation reading lists to his support of independent bookstores. In 2015, Obama interviewed the author Marilynne Robinson and used her novel Gilead as a window into understanding Christianity and Midwestern values.
Head over to The New York Times for more about Obama and his reading in the White House.