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Barack Obama Reveals His Favorite Books, Movies and Songs of 2018. His Choices Might Surprise You

5 minute read

Former President Barack Obama released his annual year-end favorites list on Friday, sharing his best-loved songs, books and films from 2018.

This year’s list once again highlights a wide range of critically acclaimed films, best-selling novels and genre-crossing singles that highlight his eclectic taste that ranges from the popular to the obscure. He shared the list on Instagram Friday morning, calling the annual list a “favorite tradition.”

“It gives me a moment to pause and reflect on the year through the books, movies, and music that I found most thought-provoking, inspiring, or just plain loved,” Obama wrote. “It also gives me a chance to highlight talented authors, artists, and storytellers – some who are household names and others who you may not have heard of before. Swipe through to see my best of 2018 list – I hope you enjoy reading, watching, and listening.”

Unsurprisingly, “Becoming“, his wife and former first lady Michelle Obama’s autobiographical memoir, made an appearance at the top of the list, with a side note (obviously my favorite!). He also included “The World As It Is” by his former Deputy National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes, as well as classics including “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe and “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela.

In the music department, Obama’s favorite songs included hip-hop singles “I Like it” by Cardi B, J Balvin and Bad Bunny, as well as”Apes**t” by The Carters. He also included the late Nancy Wilson’s The Great American Songbook album “in honor of one of the great jazz singers of all time who died this year.”

Obama’s favorite films included Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman”, Ryan Coogler’s superhero blockbuster “Black Panther” and documentaries “Won’t You Be My Neighbor“, and Bing Lius’s “Mind The Gap.

See his full list here:

Here’s a reminder of the books that I read this year that appeared on earlier lists:

  • Becoming by Michelle Obama (obviously my favorite!)
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects the Way We Think, Live, and Die by Keith Payne
  • Educated by Tara Westover
  • Factfulness by Hans Rosling
  • Futureface: A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging by Alex Wagner
  • A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiong’o
  • A House for Mr Biswas by V.S. Naipaul
  • How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt
  • In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History by Mitch Landrieu
  • Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
  • The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti
  • The Return by Hisham Matar
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • Warlight by Michael Ondaatje
  • Why Liberalism Failed by Patrick Deneen
  • The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes
  • Here are my other favorite books of 2018:

  • American Prison by Shane Bauer
  • Arthur Ashe: A Life by Raymond Arsenault
  • Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday
  • Feel Free by Zadie Smith
  • Florida by Lauren Groff
  • Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight
  • Immigrant, Montana by Amitava Kumar
  • The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson
  • Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark
  • There There by Tommy Orange
  • Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
  • My favorite movies of 2018:

  • Annihilation
  • Black Panther
  • BlacKkKlansman
  • Blindspotting
  • Burning
  • The Death of Stalin
  • Eighth Grade
  • If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Leave No Trace
  • Minding the Gap
  • The Rider
  • Roma
  • Shoplifters
  • Support the Girls
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor
  • And finally, my favorite songs of 2018:

  • “Apes••t” by The Carters
  • “Bad Bad News” by Leon Bridges
  • “Could’ve Been” by H.E.R. (feat. Bryson Tiller)
  • “Disco Yes” by Tom Misch (feat. Poppy Ajudha)
  • “Ekombe” by Jupiter & Okwess
  • “Every Time I Hear That Song” by Brandi Carlile
  • “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” by Ashley McBryde
  • “Historia De Un Amor” by Tonina (feat. Javier Limón and Tali Rubinstein)
  • “I Like It” by Cardi B (feat. Bad Bunny and J Balvin)
  • “Kevin’s Heart” by J. Cole
  • “King For A Day” by Anderson East
  • “Love Lies” by Khalid & Normani
  • “Make Me Feel” by Janelle Monáe
  • “Mary Don’t You Weep” (Piano & A Microphone 1983 Version) by Prince
  • “My Own Thing” by Chance the Rapper (feat. Joey Purp)
  • “Need a Little Time” by Courtney Barnett
  • “Nina Cried Power” by Hozier (feat. Mavis Staples)
  • “Nterini” by Fatoumata Diawara
  • “One Trick Ponies” by Kurt Vile
  • “Turnin’ Me Up” by BJ the Chicago Kid
  • “Wait by the River” by Lord Huron
  • “Wow Freestyle” by Jay Rock (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
  • And in honor of one of the great jazz singers of all time, who died this year, a classic album: The Great American Songbook by Nancy Wilson
  • More Must-Reads from TIME

    Write to Gina Martinez at gina.martinez@time.com