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President Obama's Reading List

Updated on July 6, 2017

The Books That Have Been Obama's Literary Influences

Here you will discover the books and authors that have contributed to the shaping of President Barack Obama. These are the books that have been Obama's literary influences.

Obama is a devourer of books, and that means that he has gained insights from thousands of books over his lifetime. As a young man in Chicago, Obama characteristically spent many hours in his apartment with volumes of philosophy and literature.

A taste for serious fiction is rare in the American male these days, but Obama has it. According to several friends, he even tried his hand at writing short stories during those early years in Chicago, and he recalls priggishly scolding his half sister, Maya, while she was visiting him in New York, because she chose to watch television instead of reading some novels he had given her.

Barack Obama has learned, by his political practice, to empathize with the lives of whites and non-whites, males and females, and his reading of literary fiction and philosophy have given him an unusually subtle and nuanced imaginative range.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln - Doris Kearns Goodwin

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln - Doris Kearns Goodwin

Turning to the book that Barack Obama has cited as a major influence to him, Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,"

Moral Man and Immoral Society - Reinhold Niebuhr

Moral Man and Immoral Society - Reinhold Niebuhr

Niebuhr's compelling idea was that there is serious evil in the world and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn't use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction.

Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements - Malcolm X

Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements - Malcolm X

According to “Dreams From My Father,” among the many characters in African-American literature, the one that the adolescent Barack Obama felt closest to was Malcolm X, whose discipline and “repeated acts of self-creation” impressed him. Yet, when Malcolm X wrote of the desire to “expunge” the white blood in his veins, the young Obama “was left to wonder what else I would be severing if and when I left my mother and my grandparents on some uncharted border.”

Other Authors And The Books That Have Contributed to the Shaping of Obama - E. L. Doctorow

E. L. Doctorow is perhaps Barack Obama's favorite author, although throughout his life he has had several authors who in their time have been his favorite, because of the content of their books and the depth of the subject that they covered.

Graham Greene

He extensively explored and inwardly digested the historical and fictional concept of 'power' and its effect on the lives of people.

Adam Smith

The empathy that Obama shows in his involvement with other people is drawn from, his reading of and deep understanding in, how people express their feelings and sentiments about themselves and the life around them.

The Books That Barack Obama Wrote - By far the bestselling titles are the President's own two tomes: Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope.

Barack Obama is not only a devourer of books, which means that he has gleaned insights from thousands of books over his lifetime. But as a young man he had a taste to try his hand at writing short stories during those early years in Chicago,

He has already shown with his best selling books that he also has a passion for writing good literature as well.

Follow The Story of His Amazing Journey - Against All The Odds He Became The 44th President of the USA

He had total belief in himself and an unwavering faith in the spirits of the people of the country that had given him the chance to fulfil his dream and the dream of all Americans.

And that belief and faith has been shown by the American people by electing Barack Obama as President of their country for a second term.

History will determine if his legacy is one that has advanced the lives of the people that live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, but this man has surely made a very significant contribution to our world.

Another Strong Influence On The Man

Michelle Obama - America's First Lady

The literary influences that are listed here have surely played a very big part in the shaping of Barack Obama as a man, both politically and in his personal life, but there has also been another strong influence on him and that is the lady he has known for almost half of his life; Michelle Obama, America's First Lady.

The strength of any man is usually the woman behind him that has loved him, supported him and educated his children.

Barack Obama through life's good fortune managed to meet and marry an exceptionally talented and very intelligent lady who has made him and his country very proud.

Influencing Future Voters

Future Voters Are Learning All About Obama From a Trio of Books For Middle Grade Readers.

A children's edition of Tufankjian's Yes We Can: Barack Obama's History Making Presidential Campaign,

Change Has Come: An Artist Celebrates Our American Spirit by Kadir Nelson

Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope by Nikki Grimes and illustrated by Bryan Collier.

A book that is anticipated to be a strong seller is the recently published Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country: Kids' Letters to President Obama, edited by Jory John, a compilation of correspondence from school children who answered the question "What should President Obama do now?"

The missives touch on topics ranging from the economy, education, war and race relations to more lighthearted subject matter like snow cones, puppies and multiplication.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this page. It is well written and a very interesting subject.

Tell Us What You Like About The Books That President Obama Reads - Take A Few Moments And Tell Us What You Think

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    • strategylab profile image

      Jeph Maystruck 

      5 years ago from Regina, SK

      That there's a great list, nice work!

    • steve834 profile image


      5 years ago

      I'm amazed he has the time to read!

    • efriedman profile image


      6 years ago

      Good to have elected a leader who sets a fine example for reading and learning.

    • jmillerepps profile image


      6 years ago

      I love books- this is so awesome!

    • Elric22 profile image


      6 years ago

      Fascinating to know what the most powerful man in the free world is consuming.

    • TransplantedSoul profile image


      6 years ago

      Americans should be proud of electing someone like Obama that has such a balanced perspective on things. Undoubtedly his reading has had a huge impact on this.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I also read "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

      Doris Kearns Goodwin" and loved it.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 

      9 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Interesting selection of books. I like it that he also understands the importance of reading fiction. I always wonder about people who profess that only read non-fiction. There is much to be said for reading a good novel!


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