Every December, former US president Barack Obama reveals his reading list, a compilation of books that stood out to him that year. Obama is known for reading voraciously and widely, so his reading list is always an interesting read in itself. This year Irish author Sally Rooney’s hit novel Normal People appeared alongside Bernadine Evaristo’s Man Book Prize-winning book Girl, Woman, Other as well as non-fiction titles such as Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep and Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino. Check out his full list below!
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Have you ever been given a reading list that’s written, translated, and selected exclusively by and for men? Odds are you’ve rarely seen any that aren’t. If you want to appreciate the cannon while also living in a world where women exist, this is the list for you. These books and translations are some of the best and most lauded of all time, and yes, they’re by women.
It was, I must confess, a little hard to compile. The Odyssey was first translated by a woman only in 2017! But don’t despair. It’s all here for the taking.
The Iliad and the Odyssey
Homer’s epics have been translated MANY times, but these, by Caroline Alexander and Emily Wilson, respectively, set an incredible standard.
Close as can be to the ancient Greek, this translations has garnered heaping praise. “[T]he guard has changed, and a new gold standard has appeared”, said New Criterion at the volume’s publication. This edition even manages to retain the original line numbers from the Greek.
This work, too, matches the original Greek as closely as possible. “A staggeringly superior translation―true, poetic, lively and readable, and always closely engaged with the original Greek”, said Harvard classics professor Richard F. Thomas. Iambic pentameter imitates the lyricism of the original Greek, and the volume also includes translation guides and maps.
For both of these it is possible to turn to Anne Carson, a Canadian translator and classics professor. Carson’s translations are modern, elegant, and never condescending. In stead of translated, the works seem brought into the light, with all their strangeness and fierceness intact.
How is it that Jane Austen, often the only woman on a reading list, is still under hyped? I had a guy in a bar tell me once that if people like Austen it’s because they haven’t read a lot of books. He really said that. Family conflict, human stories, and scathing humor makes Austen worth reading, with characters you really will love, and hate.
It’s a staple for a reason, and if you’re not sure you’ll relate to these people’s problems, you’re wrong. Fuckboys, impending poverty, poor decisions, and character growth you can get behind. Plus, it may be a period piece, but people still love their sisters. You’ll relate.
Another classic people want to avoid, but it has everything: deaths, fire, lies, weddings, blindness. I wouldn’t exactly call Jane a relateable character, but she’s understandable, I think, when you see everything she’s been through. And she’s incredibly decisive.
Crime fiction editor Rory Power’s debut novel is part gripping-post-apocalyptic-romance, part-high-octane-thriller, and all heart that you should definitely check out.
Image Via Amazon
We are transported to the world of Hetty where she lives in Raxter School for Girls, trapped there thanks to a horrific plague that put the world in disarray. But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will have to break quarantine an brave the horrors that lie beyond the fence…
Kirkus Reviews call it “a staggering gut punch of a book,” Young Folkspleads “I’m desperate for more”, and we here at Bookstr hope that Powers writes another novel that’s even half-as-good as this July 9th release.
Elite soldier and skilled thief Kazi and Jase Ballenger are madly in love and it seems to be happily-ever-after since the end of the last book, but we still got a whole book to go. Outside threats are a sure thing, but betrayals run deep and deadly when someone in their circle traps them in a web of deceit…
Those who love hard-won victories and dark fantasy will love this novel, especially if they thirst for buckets of blood. In the words of Kirkus Reviews, this August 6th release is “[a] smashing, satisfying adventure”
On one hand we have Winona whose perfect father isn’t perfect at all. The short of it, he locks the pantry door to control her eating habits and beats her behind closed doors. On the other hand, we have Lucille whose is barely getting by thanks to her thankless job as a waitress and her emotionally unstable mother and drug-dealing brother.
When Winona and Lucille meet, they realize that when graduation comes they need to get out of here as quickly as possibly.
They steal a convertible and go on a road trip from their small Michigan town to Chicago, running away from their old life and entering a new one where the only person they can depend on is each other.
Kirkus Reviews says the book “provides a fun, fast-paced plot with resourceful feminist protagonists,” and that’s basically all you need to know from this August 6th release
Frank Li is a Korean American, born and raised in Southern California. His life seems to be going well when he meets the girl of his dreams: Brit Means. They get along and love each other, but his parents want him to find a Korean girl and Brit, well, she’s white
So Frank teams up with Joy Song, a family friend whose in a familiar bind. Together, they come up with a plan to keep their parents off their backs while they stay with the people they love.
But things don’t always work out the way you plan.
Want to check it out? A lot of people will when it releases this September 10th!
At school, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy.
At home, Kiera joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel in the worldwide role-playing game SLAY.
When a teen is Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in SLAY, news outlets blame the video game, labeling it as racist, exclusion, and a violent hubs for thugs and criminals. Some even threaten to the developer for “anti-white discrimination”.
No one knows it, not even her closest friends, but Kiera is, in fact, the developer.
Kirkus Reviewsclaims that “[g]amers and black activists alike will be ready to SLAY all day” and we here at Bookstr promise that this book will be the next best thing when it reaches a bookshelf near you this September 24th.
Book lovers and Obama supporters alike wait with anticipation every year to hear Barrack Obama’s book picks for that summer. Fortunately, you now have another round of books to choose from thanks to Michelle who has a few book recommendations of her own. Despite your ever-growing to-be-read pile, when Michelle Obama tells you to read a certain book, you listen!
Following the release of her own memoir, Becoming, Michelle reveals eight more must-reads in her “By the Book” interview, published on December 6, 2018 in the New York Times. Other titles come from an interview with Jenna Bush Hager and a memorial posted on Instagram for what would have been a Holocaust victim’s ninetieth birthday.
Before the major motion picture, Rachel was just a girl who liked to ride the train everyday to London and back. It’s definitely not because the train passes her ex-husband’s house or the because she can see the perfect couple she envies so who live a few houses down. Definitely not.
The Edgar award-winning author of eleven books, Alison Gaylin is a writer you should definitely have on your to-be-read list. Her latest novel, mysteriously titled Never Look Back, was released July 2nd.
Back in 1976, thirteen days were filled with death as murderers April Cooper and Gabriel LeRoy terrorized South California, a murder spree that ended in a blazing fire that took those killers lives.
Forty years later, podcast producer Quentin Garrison wants to know get to the bottom of what happened with these grisly killers. But then he discovers something shocking: April may still be alive.
Meanwhile, New York City film columnist Robin Diamond finds reason to believe that her mother might be the infamous killer. With Garrison on the hunt and her reputation at stake, is there anyone she can trust?
Kirkus Reviews calls this novel “[a] mind-bending mystery, an insightful exploration of parent-child relationships, and a cautionary tale about bitterness and blame”.
Critically acclaimed author of The Boy at the Door, Alex Dahl teased us with her newest novel in an interview when she said, “It was a hard book to write— it gets pretty dark in places, but I really wanted to write a grief novel with the plotline and traction of a thriller. I’m very excited about it, and hope the end-result will be a creepy tear-jerker!”
So what is the novel about? Well…
After years of struggling with a heart condition, Kaia receives a new heart. Now things are finally looking up for her and her mother Iselin, especially after they make friends with an affluent young woman.
But that affluent young woman is Alison, the mother of a daughter whose death gave Kaia life, and grief will turn into a terrible obsession.
Released July 2nd, this story showcases the thin line between love and obsession.
Recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and the Italo Calvino Prize, Helen Philips’ newest novel has received heaps of praised.
Here’s what it is about:
Home alone with her two children, Molly hears a noise. It’s worst-case scenario when she finds herself face-to-face with an intruder who knows way too much about her and her family.
With a hook like that, what more do you need?
If you’re somehow not convinced, Kirkus Reviews calls it “suspenseful and mysterious, insightful and tender,” and says that “Phillips’ new thriller cements her standing as a deservedly celebrated author with a singular sense of story and style.”
Released July 9th, this book if one you should definitively check out if you like tight, suspenseful stories that are all too real.
With a career spanning over twenty years, Laura Lippman is a name that you should be familiar with. It’s always a treat whenever she releases a new novel, and her latest is sure to thrill us.
Set in the tumultuous year of 1966 in Baltimore, Maddie Schwartz wants to make a name for herself now that she’s bolted away from her controlling husband. Working at the newspaper, Maddie finds just the story to do it: the body of a missing woman has been discovered in the city park lake’s fountain.
The body belongs to Cleo Sherwood, a young black woman, and as Maddie investigates she’ll have to look beyond her own needs before tragedy strikes again.
Kirkus Reviews notes that “[t]he racism, classism, and sexism of fifty years ago wrapped up in a stylish, sexy, suspenseful period drama about a newsroom and the city it covers.”
Coming July 23rd, this book about race and class is one any fan of thrills and suspense should check out!
This is a late release, but it’s definitely something that should be on your reading list because its from accomplished writer and teacher, Lisa Sandlin.
A sequel to 2015 The Do-Right, this new novel follows Delpha Wade. After nearly being killed, Wade is released from the hospital but her boss, Private Investigator Tom Phelan, desperately needs her help.
Thus, Wade is back in action, digging through old records and knocking on doors to unravel a dangerous case of two brothers and how it connects to a grand larceny. As Wade and Phelan unravel the mystery, they will discover that “sometimes truth is not true, but murder is always murder“.
Kirkus Reviewsassures that this novel is proof “that anything old can be new in the right, talented hands,” and that “Sandlin has crafted an outstanding series that readers will want to follow and savor”.
With praise like that, this novel is sure to dazzle and surprise us when her latest book hits shelves August 20th.
Let us know what you think of our suggestions in the comments! Hopefully, you’ll add some of these for your ongoing reading list.