These Are Barack Obama’s Favorite Music, Movies, TV Shows, and Books of 2019

Barack Obama

As one year ends and another one begins, people often take to social media to reflect on the past, particularly looking back at the widely consumed pop culture we all enjoyed during the past 365 days. Former President Barack Obama is no different. In his annual social media tradition, the 44th Commander in Chief has shared his list of favorite books, movies, TV shows, and music of 2019. As in previous years, the lists reflect both his intellectual nature as well as his pop culture savvy. They also confirm that he’s still one of the world’s coolest dads.

If you’re surprised by the number of movies Obama saw or the books he read, don’t be. The former President recognizes the value that art has in our lives. “While each of us has plenty that keeps us busy—work and family life, social and volunteer commitments—outlets like literature and art can enhance our day-to-day experiences,” he remarked on Instagram. “They’re the fabric that helps make up a life—the album that lifts us up after a long day, the dog-eared paperback we grab off the shelf to give to a friend, the movie that makes us think and feel in a new way, works that simply help us escape for a bit.”

Wondering what Obama loved in 2019? His favorite picks run the gamut. There are novels, for instance, that focus on history (and shattering its myths) including David Treuer’s The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee as well as titles that relate to the digital future like The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff. For films, he enjoyed the comedy Booksmart as well as the thriller Parasite. He also placed American Factory on the list, which is a film from his and wife Michelle’s production company, Higher Ground. (The documentary has been shortlisted for an Oscar.) And when it comes to his favorite songs, Obama proves he’s not immune to the catchy record-breaking bop that is Old Town Road (Remix) by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus or Lizzo’s Juice.

Check out Obama’s best-of lists below. And if you want to make his favorites your new reading list, we’ve linked the texts below. (It might also be time to get a Kindle Unlimited subscription!)

Former President Barack Obama shared his annual list featuring his favorite list of music, movies, TV shows, and books from 2019.


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Want to make Obama's favorite books part of your reading list? You can buy all of these texts on Amazon.

  1. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff
  2. The Anarchy: The East India Company, Corporate Violence, and the Pillage of an Empire by William Dalrymple
  3. Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep
  4. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
  5. The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present by David Treuer
  6. How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell
  7. Lost Children Archive: A Novel by Valeria Luiselli
  8. Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington
  9. Normal People: A Novel by Sally Rooney
  10. The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson
  11. The Yellow House: A Memoir by Sarah M. Broom
  12. Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe
  13. Solitary by Albert Woodfox
  14. The Topeka School: A Novel by Ben Lerner
  15. Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino
  16. Trust Exercise: A Novel by Susan Choi
  17. We Live in Water: Stories by Jess Walter
  18. A Different Way to Win: Dan Rooney's Story from the Super Bowl to the Rooney Rule by Jim Rooney
  19. The Sixth Man: A Memoir by Andre Iguodala
  20. American Spy: A Novel by Lauren Wilkinson
  21. The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir by Samantha Power
  22. Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang
  23. Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward by Valerie Jarrett
  24. Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh
  25. How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu
  26. Inland: A Novel by Téa Obreht
  27. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
  28. Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive by Stephanie Land
  29. Men Without Women: Stories by Haruki Murakami
  30. The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates
  31. The Nickel Boys: A Novel by Colson Whitehead
  32. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
  33. The Shadow of Sirius by W.S. Merwin
  34. The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr
  35. Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For by Susan Rice
  36. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
  37. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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