6 books on Barack Obama’s summer reading list

Laura Hampson
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This week, former US President Barack Obama is travelling to Africa for the first time since he left office in January 2017.

During his visit, he will travel to Kenya and South Africa - two countries he holds close to his heart as Kenya is the Obama ancestral home and South Africa is hosting a convention for the Obama Foundation.

Obama recently revealed to his Facebook followers that the African continent has been a profound influence on him and thus - in keeping with "Africa's extraordinary literary tradition" - he decided to share a list of books he would recommend for summer reading.

Below are the Obama-approved books to pack in your suitcase for your next vacation (or simply for a jaunt to your nearest park).

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

What Obama says: “A true classic of world literature, this novel paints a picture of traditional society wrestling with the arrival of foreign influence, from Christian missionaries to British colonialism. A masterpiece that has inspired generations of writers in Nigeria, across Africa, and around the world.”

You can buy it here.

A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiong’o

A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiong’o

What Obama says: “A chronicle of the events leading up to Kenya’s independence, and a compelling story of how the transformative events of history weigh on individual lives and relationships.”

You can buy it here.

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

What Obama says: “Mandela’s life was one of the epic stories of the 20th century. This definitive memoir traces the arc of his life from a small village, to his years as a revolutionary, to his long imprisonment, and ultimately his ascension to unifying President, leader, and global icon. Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand history – and then go out and change it.”

You can buy it here.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

What Obama says: “From one of the world’s great contemporary writers comes the story of two Nigerians making their way in the U.S. and the UK, raising universal questions of race and belonging, the overseas experience for the African diaspora, and the search for identity and a home.”

You can buy it here.

The Return by Hisham Matar

The Return by Hisham Matar

What Obama says: “A beautifully-written memoir that skilfully balances a graceful guide through Libya’s recent history with the author’s dogged quest to find his father who disappeared in Gaddafi’s prisons.”

You can buy it here.

The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes

The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes

What Obama says: “It’s true, Ben does not have African blood running through his veins. But few others so closely see the world through my eyes like he can. Ben’s one of the few who’ve been with me since that first presidential campaign. His memoir is one of the smartest reflections I’ve seen as to how we approached foreign policy, and one of the most compelling stories I’ve seen about what it’s actually like to serve the American people for eight years in the White House.”

You can buy it here.