Barack Obama shares his 2022 summer reading list and playlist

The former president continued his annual tradition of sharing his book and music recommendations.

Former president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama departed the White House for a trip to Martha's Vineyard on Aug. 6, 2016.
Former president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama departed the White House for a trip to Martha's Vineyard on Aug. 6, 2016. Al Drago/File Photo

Looking for an engrossing beach read or a chill summer soundtrack? Barack Obama has you covered on both accounts.

In what has become an annual tradition, the former president released his 2022 summer reading list and summer playlist, highlighting a diverse array of literary and musical genres.

“I’ve read a couple of great books this year and wanted to share some of my favorites so far,” Obama wrote on Twitter. “What have you been reading this summer?”

Obama’s reading list totals 14 titles, offering a mix of fiction novels, contemporary political theory, and even a non-fiction book aimed at basketball fans. If you add Obama’s list to’s 2022 summer reading list, you’ll have more than three dozen recent releases to pick from.


Obama also released his annual summer playlist, featuring recent hits from Beyoncé and Harry Styles as well as throwback hits from artists like Prince, Joe Cocker, and Aretha Franklin.

“Every year, I get excited to share my summer playlist because I learn about so many new artists from your replies — it’s an example of how music really can bring us all together,” Obama wrote on Instagram. “Here’s what I’ve been listening to this summer. What songs would you add?”

Obama’s 44-song playlist (which he helpfully posted on Spotify) has some overlap with’s 2022 summer playlist, specifically with the inclusion of Beyoncé’s “BREAK MY SOUL.” Both of our playlists also featured new songs from Maggie Rogers, Harry Styles, and Kendrick Lamar, though the former president selected different songs from the artists’ 2022 albums.

Listen to Barack Obama’s full 2022 summer playlist below, and scroll downr= to read the former president’s full 2022 summer reading list, complete with a short plot synopsis for each title, courtesy of Goodreads.

“Sea of Tranquility” by Emily St. John Mandel: “A novel of art, time, love, and plague that takes the reader from Vancouver Island in 1912 to a dark colony on the moon three hundred years later, unfurling a story of humanity across centuries and space.”


“Why We’re Polarized” by Ezra Klein: “Discover how American politics became a toxic system, why we participate in it, and what it means for our future — from journalist, political commentator, and cofounder of Vox, Ezra Klein.”

“The Candy House” by Jennifer Egan: “From one of the most dazzling and iconic writers of our time and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, an electrifying, deeply moving novel about the quest for authenticity, privacy, and meaning in a world where our memories are no longer our own — featuring characters from A Visit from the Goon Squad.”

“A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance” by Hanif Abdurraqib: “A stirring meditation on Black performance in America from the New York Times bestselling author of Go Ahead in the Rain.”

“To Paradise” by Hanya Yanagihara: “From the author of the classic A Little Life, a bold, brilliant novel spanning three centuries and three different versions of the American experiment, about lovers, family, loss and the elusive promise of utopia.”

“Silverview” by John le Carré: “In Silverview, John le Carré turns his focus to the world that occupied his writing for the past sixty years — the secret world itself.”


“Black Cake” by Charmaine Wilkerson: “Charmaine Wilkerson’s debut novel is a story of how the inheritance of betrayals, secrets, memories, and even names can shape relationships and history.”

“The Family Chao” by Lan Samantha Chang: “Brimming with heartbreak, comedy, and suspense, The Family Chao offers a kaleidoscopic, highly entertaining portrait of a Chinese American family grappling with the dark undercurrents of a seemingly pleasant small town.”

“Velvet Was the Night” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: “From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a simmering historical noir about a daydreaming secretary, a lonesome enforcer, and the mystery of the missing woman they’re both desperate to find.”

“Mouth to Mouth” by Antoine Wilson: “Sly, suspenseful, and engrossing, Mouth to Mouth masterfully blurs the line between opportunity and exploitation, self-respect and self-delusion, fact and fiction — exposing the myriad ways we deceive each other, and ourselves.”

“The Great Experiment: Why Diverse Democracies Fall Apart and How They Can Endure” by Yascha Mounk: “The Great Experiment is that rare book that offers both a profound understanding of an urgent problem and genuine hope for our human capacity to solve it. As Mounk contends, giving up on the prospects of building fair and thriving diverse democracies is simply not an option–and that is why we must strive to realize a more ambitious vision for the future of our societies.”

“The School for Good Mothers” by Jessamine Chan: “In this taut and explosive debut novel, one lapse in judgement lands a young mother in a government reform program where custody of her child hangs in the balance.”


“Razorblade Tears” by S.A. Cosby: “A Black father. A white father. Two murdered sons. A quest for vengeance.”

“Blood in the Garden: The Flagrant History of the 1990s New York Knicks” by Chris Herring: “The definitive history of the 1990s New York Knicks, illustrating how Pat Riley, Patrick Ewing, John Starks, Charles Oakley, and Anthony Mason resurrected the iconic franchise through oppressive physicality and unmatched grit.”


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