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Here are Barack Obama's 13 favorite books of 2022

Two of them were Read With Jenna picks.

Do you want to read like Barack Obama? Now's your chance: The former U.S. president just released his favorite books of 2022, a biannual tradition dating back to his time in the White House.

"I always look forward to sharing my lists of favorite books, movies, and music with all of you," Obama wrote on Instagram, before asking followers to suggest interesting books he might tackle in 2023.

As they do every year, Obama’s favorite books — 13 of them in total — consist of both fiction and non-fiction and cover a wide range of topics. This year's list includes books about history, animals and self-help. In fact, the book that topped Obama’s list this year is a kind of blend of self-help and memoir:“The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times” by his wife, former first lady Michelle Obama.

“I’m a bit biased on this one,” Barack Obama joked.

Obama included the novels "The School for Good Mothers" by Jessamine Chan and “Black Cake” by Charmaine Wilkerson, two titles that Jenna and her book club read together this year.

Former President Barack Obama
Former President Barack Obama has shared his favorite books of 2022.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

When Jenna announced that her club's book choice for January was “The School for Good Mothers,” a dystopian drama about mothers who are encouraged to “reform” their parenting, she called it “every mother’s worst nightmare, written in exquisitely beautiful prose.”

When she announced February's book was “Black Cake,” a family saga about siblings discovering their parents’ past, she raved about the novel. “I wanted to know what was going to happen and who these characters were," she said.

Find Obama's entire list below.


  • “Sea of Tranquility” by Emily St. John Mandel, a novel spanning places and times that takes the reader from an island off of Vancouver in 1912 to a future colony on the moon.
  • “Trust” by Hernan Diaz, a novel that examines themes of money, power and intimacy, set in the booming but doomed financial world of 1920s New York.
  • “The Furrows: A Novel” by Namwali Serpell, a novel that explores the grief a sister feels after the death of her little brother.
  • “The School for Good Mothers” by Jessamine Chan, a dystopian drama about mothers who are encouraged to “reform” their parenting.
  • “Black Cake” by Charmaine Wilkerson, a novel about two siblings who uncover their mothers’ secrets after she dies.
  • "Liberation Day" by George Saunders, a collection of short stories by Saunders, winner of the Booker Prize, among dozens of other literary awards.
  • “The Candy House” by Jennifer Egan, a sci-fi-ish novel that finds characters able to use a piece of technology to access every memory they've ever had.
  • "Afterlives" by Abdulrazak Gurnah, a historical novel historical novel set in colonial German East Africa, what is now Tanzania.


  • “The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times” by Michelle Obama, in which the former first lady shares contents from her "personal toolbox" that have helped her overcome uncertainty and adversity.
  • "The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams" by Stacy Schiff, a biography of a Founding Father.
  • “South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation,” by Imani Perry, which won the National Book Award for its nuanced analysis of the American South.
  • “Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands” by Kate Beaton, a graphic memoir that finds cartoonist Beaton, author of the popular webcomic "Hark! A Vagrant," writing about the years she spent working at the oil sands of Fort McMurray, in Alberta, Canada.
  • "An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us" by Ed Yong, which finds the Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist examining the many ways in which animals sense their surroundings.