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Matt Lillywhite

3 Books That Made Barack Obama A Better Person

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Matt Lillywhite
Matt Lillywhite
 2021-05-13

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Photo via The Obama White House (US Government Work)

It’s no secret that Barack Obama enjoys reading. Even during his presidency, he was an avid reader who felt compelled to read as much as he could. He’s even written a few fantastic books of his own. It’s quite impressive, isn’t it?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve managed to read several interesting books that Barack Obama has recommended. Each of them changed the way I see the world, and I’m confident they will do the same for you, too.

Luster by Raven Leilani

I’ll start by saying this book isn’t for everyone. After looking at a few reviews online, it’s evident that people either loved it or hated it. There didn’t seem to be much of a middle-ground. But in my humble opinion, it’s definitely worth reading.

Luster depicts the life of a young black woman in the midst of a filthy city. She desires a stable life and to be respected by society. However, she is unfortunately caught at the crossroads of economics, racism, and sexism.

The book is also a cold, hard dose of reality. It demonstrates how difficult it is for some people to believe in themselves and the influences that motivate them to act in one way or another. So, if you’re looking for a new book to read, it’s definitely worth adding to your list.

“I’ve made my own hunger into a practice, made everyone who passes through my life subject to a close and inappropriate reading that occasionally finds its way, often insufficiently, into paint. And when I am alone with myself, this is what I am waiting for someone to do to me, with merciless, deliberate hands, to put me down onto the canvas so that when I’m gone, there will be a record, proof that I was here.”―Raven Leilani

The Splendid And The Vile by Erik Larson

Normally, I don’t get excited by history books as they can be pretty boring. However, this one was different. Every single page was written beautifully, and it captivated my attention throughout the entire book.

Normally, I don’t get excited about history books because they can be quite boring. This one, however, was unique. Every single page was beautifully written, and it held my attention throughout the entire book. 

It’s about the difficulties Winston Churchill faced as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Hitler’s army invaded Belgium and the Netherlands on his first day in power. And, given that Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen under Nazi control, the fate of Western Europe seemed inevitable.

Despite the adversity that plagued the country, Churchill refused to give up. So, he taught the British people to be fearless, courageous, and hopeful. Because when the entire country was plunged into darkness, many people needed to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The book draws on diaries and previously classified intelligence reports to provide an in-depth look at Churchill’s mindset and way of thinking. And obviously, there’s a little bit of political drama in there as well.

“The speech set a pattern that he would follow throughout the war, offering a sober appraisal of facts, tempered with reason for optimism. “It would be foolish to disguise the gravity of the hour,” he said. “It would be still more foolish to lose heart and courage.”―Erik Larson

The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo

Karla Cornejo has an incredible story. She was one of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard. So, in the book, she describes what life is like for many undocumented immigrants across the United States.

Every single one of them is a real person with dreams, hopes, and plans for the future. They came to the United States because it’s one of the best countries in the entire world. All they wanted was a better life for themselves and their loved ones. Yet, in news reports, many undocumented immigrants are reduced down to statistics.

I’ll admit that, at times, it was an uncomfortable read. However, the book is definitely worth reading, as it brings some incredible stories to light about love, resilience, and perseverance in America.

“But it’s not just those early years without my parents that branded me. It’s the life I’ve led in America as a migrant, watching my parents pursue their dream in this country and then having to deal with its carcass, witnessing the crimes against migrants carried out by the U.S. government with my hands bound. As an undocumented person, I felt like a hologram. Nothing felt secure. I never felt safe. I didn’t allow myself to feel joy because I was scared to attach myself to anything I’d have to let go of. Being deportable means you have to be ready to go at any moment, ready to go with nothing but the clothes on your body.”―Karla Cornejo

Each of these interesting books has been recommended by Barack Obama. And if you enjoy reading about a variety of subjects, you’ll probably enjoy every single one. So what are you waiting for?

Read.