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10 Books Recommended by Barack Obama I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

Get ready to fill up your brain

10 Books Recommended by Barack Obama I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

This article is for the intellectuals.

If you dare to expand your horizons and understand the world more deeply and clearly, read on.

Barack Obama, twice elected and the first black president of America has recommended many books. Today we are bringing you ten of them.

These books are intense. You might need a cup of coffee as you start reading them. But they will show you so much about the world, that you will be grateful that you read them.

Let’s go through the summary of books recommended by Obama!

10 Books Recommended by Barack Obama I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

Things are looking up!

Hans Rosling is a Swedish doctor. In the 1990s, he realized that people have the wrong worldview.

Humans have 10 dramatic instincts that Rosling lays out in this book. They are gap, negativity, straight line, fear, size, generalization, destiny, single perspective, blame, and urgency.

“In fact, the vast majority of the world’s population lives somewhere in the middle of the income scale.”

In the past, these instincts helped humans survive the worst of threats. Although times have changed, our brains have remained the same. In the modern world, these instincts over-dramatize reality and make us fearful.

Through hard facts and data, Rosling shows us that the world overall is getting better.

Poverty and violence are on the decline. The world is not divided into rich and poor. Most of the people lie somewhere in the middle.

But it doesn’t feel like it. Right?

That’s because of the negatives we constantly hear about in the news and social media.

“When things are getting better we often don’t hear about them. This gives us a systematically too-negative impression of the world around us, which is very stressful.”

The author impresses on us the importance of keeping our dramatic instincts in check. He urges us to choose factfulness over emotion.

10 Books Recommended by Barack Obama I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

Is America knowingly keeping her people poor?

The author shows us the picture of poverty in America.

“This is who we are: the richest country on earth, with more poverty than any other advanced democracy.”

The book is titled ‘Poverty, by America’ instead of ‘Poverty in America’ to signify the practices and policies that keep the poor, poor.

The social and political structure allows landlords and managers to exploit the less privileged.

The author discusses that middle and high-income families contribute to the poverty issue. Both knowingly and unknowingly. ‘Welfare’ is increasingly spent on affluent families by the government.

“When poor workers receive a pay raise, their health improves dramatically.”

The author puts forth many suggestions. He suggests an increase in the minimum wage and the provision of affordable housing.

Most importantly, Desmond wants the invisible line between the poor and rich to be abolished. This is so the poor can live in the same neighborhood as the rich. It will allow them to benefit from the social capital.

This book is an important read for policymakers.

10 Books Recommended by Barack Obama I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

Anarchy at sea.

This is a nonfiction book by an American journalist. It explores the Wager Mutiny which took place on a British ship in 1741.

“Empires preserve their power with the stories that they tell, but just as critical are the stories they don’t — the dark silences they impose, the pages they tear out.”

HMS Wager was a British warship. It was headed to capture a Spanish ship. Instead, the ship wrecked on a desolate island, which was later named Wager Island.

What followed was anarchy. The survivors split. There was a mutiny against the captain of the ship.

Some men from the split groups made it back to England at different times while many of them died of starvation and cold.

“Presence of mind, and courage in distress, Are more than armies to procure success.”

This book details an extraordinary story of human behavior in life-and-death situations.

10 Books Recommended by Barack Obama I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

Semiconductors run the world.

The author discusses one of the most important modern technologies in the world. Integrated circuit, also called the microchip.

They are used in all sorts of electronic devices. Smartphones, computers, warheads, you name it.

“For every major chip firm, the Chinese consumer market is far more important a customer than the U.S. government.”

Due to having dominance in this technology, the US won the Cold War. It’s because the USSR was lagging behind.

When Japan was demilitarized by America, the defense budget was capped at 1%. It meant there was surplus capital available in the market. The Japanese charged ahead in the semiconductor race, taking the market share from the US.

“Application processors, the electronic brain inside each smartphone, are mostly produced in Taiwan and South Korea before being sent to China for final assembly inside a phone’s plastic case and glass screen.”

The author goes on to explain the ebb and flow of the chip market. It discusses the role of Korea and China as well.

The book concludes that right now China and America are striving for global dominance of the chip market. America is currently ahead.

10 Books Recommended by Barack Obama I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

Deep dive into humanism.

Sarah Bakewell discusses humanism, its meaning, and its 700-year history in this book.

She touches on how it has benefitted us and brought on ‘enlightenment’.

“Mitigating the suffering of one’s fellows is a humanistic goal in the broadest sense, and in general the practice of medicine straddles the worlds of science and humanistic study.”

Bakewell also brings us the great humanists of the past, each with their own approach.

Some of the names are Christine de Pizan, Bertrand Russell, Voltaire, and Zora Neale Hurston.

The author argues that humanistic ideas have always been a threat to power such as religious and political authorities. Hence, humanists had to keep their work secret at times.

Humanism has been supported in most of the Western world. Here many enjoy personal freedom and liberties.

But in the rest of the world, resistance against humanism has persisted.

This book deems humanism a very important ideology for advancing human interests.

10 Books Recommended by Barack Obama I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

A nuanced look at Martin Luther King Jr.

When nations honor their heroes, a near-perfect image is made.

Great stories are told. Statues are erected. And holidays are celebrated.

In doing so, we forget our heroes are humans. Fallible and imperfect humans. They made mistakes like the rest of us.

“Tax records show that Jim and Delia King worked on a farm owned by a white man named William B. Martin, on land in Stockbridge partially occupied today by a Walmart Supercenter.”

This is one such book that aims to paint a real image of King Jr.

The author explores the family history of King Jr.’s family including the racism they faced as Blacks. Jim King, the original name of King Jr.’s father, was once beaten by a white man as he carried a bucket of milk to the neighbors.

King Jr. was a complicated man. Despite his many contributions, his flaws included having many affairs.

Other misgivings which are far less than that are as follows:

“King was a man, not a saint. He chewed his fingernails…He hid his cigarettes from his children…He slept poorly…He ran chronically late for meetings.”

This is a fascinating book with an honest look at one of the great men in history.

10 Books Recommended by Barack Obama I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

Bright but deranged, an explosive combination.

Jonathan Rosen, the author, met his best friend Michael Laudor when they were both ten.

The boys were joined in their love for music, books, games, politics, and intellectual discussions. Michael was exceptionally brilliant and impressed everyone he met.

“We carried the world of each other’s childhood in our pockets like a kryptonite pebble, a fragment of the home planet.”

They went off to Yale, where Michael graduated a year early. As Michael started working, he started suffering from psychosis. He was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and put on medication which seemed to work.

After his diagnosis, he enrolled in Yale Law School. He also started dating and later engaged to Carrie Costello.

“Violence and mental illness have been legally entangled ever since dangerousness, rather than illness, became the necessary prerequisite for hospitalization.”

So far, it might seem like a success story of someone struggling with mental health. But the end is much more brutal and horrific.

On June 17, 1998, Carrie was murdered by Michael who had stopped taking his medications.

Through this story, the author discusses mental healthcare in America, the various policies, and the institutions. He also reflects on how Michael’s intelligence might have prevented others from seeing the severity of his illness.

As of the time of the publication, Michael remains committed to a psychiatric facility.

10 Books Recommended by Barack Obama I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

Divided by Trump!

Tim Alberta is the son of an evangelical pastor.

In the wake of the Trump saga, he was accused by the church congregation of being against the God-ordained leader, Donald Trump.

“Christians are claiming to navigate … via religious identity but are actually navigating … via political identity”

Thus began Alberta’s journey of exploration. He went to multiple churches and ministries and interviewed evangelical leaders.

In this book, he discusses how political extremism has put a dent in the main aim of religious submission. To serve God. Instead, some are letting their political affiliations come before their religious commitment.

“In the year after Trump left office, there was one demographic group most likely to believe that the election had been stolen, that vaccines were dangerous, that globalists were controlling the U.S. population… white evangelicals…”

To be honest, I understand Tim’s message loud and clear. As someone who grew religious, I understand the tenacity with which religiously committed people support their political leaders.

To them, it is doing the right thing in the eyes of God. But the question remains, is it really?

10 Books Recommended by Barack Obama I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

A bloodbath in the Philippines.

Evangelista is a journalist in the Philippines.

In 2016, the ‘War on Drugs’ was started in the Philippines at the behest of the then president, Rodrigo Duterte.

“I was born in the year democracy returned to the Philippines. I am here to report its death.”

During his campaigns, Duterte had promised to kill drug dealers and addicts. Most people didn’t take his words literally. Turns out he was not kidding.

When he came to power, many years of extrajudicial killings by the police and vigilantes followed.

The author covered many of these murders. Occasional drug users or even those related to drug users were also not spared.

“President Duterte said kill the addicts, and the addicts died. He said kill the mayors, and the mayors died. He said kill the lawyers, and the lawyers died.”

This book is up close and personal. As written by someone who is from that country and saw everything happening firsthand, makes it all the more real.

This book will make you gasp and cry.

10 Books Recommended by Barack Obama I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

Humans are the new commodities.

This book provides an unnerving look at how every click of ours is becoming a profitable product for digital companies.

The author takes companies like Google and Facebook to task.

“Industrial capitalism transformed nature’s raw materials into commodities, and surveillance capitalism lays its claims to the stuff of human nature for a new commodity invention.”

Zuboff is relentless in her criticism. She says that our behavior is being exploited while companies gain more and more control over us.

She says that on the internet, there are two texts. One is that the public can see and access. The other is the shadow text, which includes all the data about us. That can be accessed by surveillance capitalists.

“Google is a shape-shifter, but each shape harbors the same aim: to hunt and capture raw material.”

If this continues, the author predicts an end to democracy and free will.

This book shows us an important picture that we have ignored for far too long.


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