Obama says Better Call Saul, The Good Place, The Boys, and more helped him through the writing process.

By Seija Rankin
December 15, 2020 at 12:41 PM EST
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Credit: Ryan Pfluger / AUGUST

Barack Obama missed his deadline. The former president began writing his administration’s magnum opus shortly before leaving the Oval Office for good and delivered it almost four years later. “You have to remind yourself how to write,” he says of his third memoir (and first book in 15 years). A Promised Land, the first of two volumes, arrived to high fanfare and even higher sales — and it was worth the wait. Obama, 59, tells EW what helped him get it done, even if it was done a little differently than he thought.

The drink I need to get through a day of writing

Honest Tea’s Green Dragon. It keeps me alert, but not too wired.

The TV shows I put on when I need a break

Better Call Saul, because of its great characters and examination of the dark side of the American dream. The Good Place — it’s a wise and sweet combination of goofy comedy and big philosophical questions. And Watchmen and The Boys, for how they turn superhero conventions on their heads to lay bare issues of race, capitalism, and the distorting effects of corporate power and mass media. Oh, and the NBA playoffs — because it’s hoops!

The music I played to help me while writing

I actually can’t listen to music when I’m writing. I start humming along and lose my train of thought.

The person I called most often for advice on A Promised Land

My editor [at Crown Publishing], Rachel Klayman, to explain why I was going to be late on getting her draft chapters again.

The first thing I did after I finished the book

Went on a long bike ride with Michelle. She’d been so patient and supportive, and it was great to spend time with her without a book hanging over our heads.

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