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All of the books on Barack Obama’s 2022 summer reading list 

In what has become an annual tradition, Barack Obama released a summer reading list and playlist on July 26.

On the music front, it appears Obama has been jamming out to Rosalia, Prince, Maggie Rogers, Harry Styles and “Break My Soul,” the first single off Beyoncé’s anticipated seventh album, “Renaissance.” Michelle Obama shared her thoughts on the house-inspired song, calling it “the song we all need” on Twitter.

But if you’re looking for a book to bring the beach (or pool, or backyard, or wherever), the former president has a few recommendations, ranging from nonfiction books about music to fiction about motherhood … and just about everything in between.

Obama recommended a total of 14 books, including two Read With Jenna picks: “Black Cake” by Charmaine Wilkerson and “The School for Good Mothers” by Jessamine Chen.

In her announcement, Jenna said she was on the “edge of her seat” when reading “Black Cake,” a family saga about siblings discovering their parents’ past: “I wanted to know what was going to happen and who these characters were.”

“The School for Good Mothers” by Jessamine Chan is, according Jenna, “every mother’s worst nightmare, written in exquisitely beautiful prose.” 

Find the entire list below.

Fiction

  1. “Black Cake” by Charmaine Wilkerson, a book about two siblings who uncover their mothers’ secrets after she passes on.
  2. “The School for Good Mothers” by Jessamine Chan, a dystopian about mothers who are encouraged to “reform” their parenting.
  3. “Sea of Tranquility” by Emily St. John Mandel, a novel spanning days and settings, from an island off of Vancouver to a colony on the moon.
  4. “The Candy House” by Jennifer Egan, a book that reads like an episode of “Black Mirror,” in which a piece of technology allows people to access all of their memories.
  5. “To Paradise” by Hanya Yanagihara, an experimental, three-part story by the author of “A Little Life.”
  6. “Silverview” by John le Carre, the 26th and last completed novel from the legendary spy novelist.
  7. “The Family Chao” by Lan Samantha Chang, a mystery set in a family-owned Chinese restaurant in Wisconsin.
  8. “Velvet Was the Night” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, a thriller set in Mexico City in the 1970s, in which two people go searching for a missing secretary and find hitmen, government agents and Russian spies along the way.
  9. “Mouth to Mouth” by Antoine Wilson, a novel that begins with a strange conversation on an airplane and gets stranger from there.
  10. “Razorblade Tears” by S.A. Cosby, a tense novel that sees two families united by tragedy. 

Nonfiction

  1. “A Little Devil in America: In Praise of Black Performance” by Hanif Abdurraqib, a series of essays about Black performers like Patti LaBelle, Billy Dee Williams, the Wu-Tan Clan, Dave Chappelle and more.
  2. “Why We’re Polarized” by Ezra Klein, a 2020 analysis of the United States’ political landscape.
  3. “Blood in the Garden: The Flagrant History of the 1990s New York Knicks” by Chris Herring, an overview of the New York basketball team in what the author calls was the “league’s most fascinating decade.”
  4. “The Great Experiment: Why Diverse Democracies Fall Apart and How They Can Endure” by Yascha Mounk, a look at the trajectory of democracies — which ultimately skews hopeful.

By Elena Nicolaou

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