The New York Times’ book critic Michiko Kakutani recently sat down with President Obama to talk about his reading habits and reflect on what particular titles, and books in general, have meant to him during his time in office. It’s a fascinating read, both the article and the transcript of the interview.

We’ve collected the books mentioned by title in these articles here for your convenience.



Some highlights from the interview:

Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson: “I loved her writing in part because I saw those people every day. And the interior life she was describing that connected them—the people I was shaking hands with and making speeches to—it connected them with my grandparents.”

The Three-Body Problem, by Liu Cixin: “The scope of it was immense.  So that was fun to read, partly because my day-to-day problems with Congress seem fairly petty—not something to worry about. Aliens are about to invade.”

Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison: “[It] is a book I think of when I imagine people going through hardship. That it’s not just pain, but there’s joy and glory and mystery.”

In addition to the books listed by title, Obama gained insight from presidential biographies, the writings of Gandhi, Mandela, Churchill, and others.

Read the full article, “Obama’s Secret to Surviving the White House Years: Books,” on the New York Times website.

Also see the White House posting about Obama’s summer reading lists from 2016 and 2015.