Share The New “O” Book Club: 12 Fiction Picks from President Obama

The New “O” Book Club: 12 Fiction Picks from President Obama

Julianna Haubner joined the editorial team at Simon & Schuster in September 2014. A lifelong reader, she is most drawn to literary fiction, biography, cultural history, and narrative non-fiction; it’s her firm belief that every human should own a copy of Cheryl Strayed’s TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS, and EMPIRE FALLS is the book that changed her life. When Julianna’s not reading and reviewing, she’s downloading podcast episodes as if there are more than 24 hours in a day, watching Bravo, baking, and running the Off the Shelf Instagram. You can follow her on Twitter @jhaubner2.

President Obama has made it clear over the past 8 years that books are a big part of his life—whether he’s shopping on Small Business Saturday or releasing his vacation reading list. (Plus, he did an impressive interview with author Marilynne Robinson, which you can listen to here. Cross your fingers for a post–White House podcast!) A bestselling author himself, our reader-in-chief has followed his predecessors in recommending some great nonfiction titles, but has surprised us all by being a particularly prolific fiction reader as well. Here are some of the books he’s picked up during his time in office.


All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr
Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel was a hit with pretty much everyone who read it in 2014 (and since), and the president was no exception. A tale of the intertwining experiences of a blind French girl and orphaned German boy during the Nazi occupation, it is a mesmerizing story of how people can change each other’s lives without even realizing it.
All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr

Already beloved by millions of readers, this novel follows a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as they both try to survive the devastation of World War II. The breakout hit of 2014, this beautiful novel was a finalist for the National Book Award and it just won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. If you haven't read it yet, this one should be at the top of your spring reading list.

MENTIONED IN:

The New “O” Book Club: 12 Fiction Picks from President Obama

By Julianna Haubner | January 17, 2017

13 Most Shelved Books on Off the Shelf in 2016

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 13, 2016

Enter for Your Chance to Win a Copy of ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

By Off the Shelf Staff | April 18, 2016

Celebrating 100 Years of Pulitzer Prize-Winning Fiction

By Erin Flaaen | April 12, 2016

13 Powerful Books for Our Political Leaders

By Off the Shelf Staff | February 9, 2016

14 Recommended Reads From Reese Witherspoon

By Tolani Osan | December 1, 2015

Close

Heart of Darkness and the Secret Sharer
by Joseph Conrad

Though his contemporary reading repertoire is impressive, President Obama also has made time for classics, including Joseph Conrad’s duo of literary voyages. Both are chilling yet relevant stories of self-discovery, corruptibility, and the ways of the mind.

Heart of Darkness and the Secret Sharer
Joseph Conrad

Though his contemporary reading repertoire is impressive, President Obama also has made time for classics, including Joseph Conrad’s duo of literary voyages. Both are chilling yet relevant stories of self-discovery, corruptibility, and the ways of the mind.

MENTIONED IN:

The New “O” Book Club: 12 Fiction Picks from President Obama

By Julianna Haubner | January 17, 2017

Close

Fates and Furies
by Lauren Groff
The President called FATES AND FURIES his favorite book of 2015, and readers across the country agreed. The story of a marriage told from the perspectives of both husband and wife, it’s a raw, dark, and dazzling examination of how a relationship—and the people in it—can change over 24 years, for better or worse.
Fates and Furies
Lauren Groff

For fans of “The Affair”

There are two sides to every story—and the psychological drama “The Affair” explores that quite creatively. FATES AND FURIES is perfect for fans of dramatic romances told from alternating perspectives. At the core of this expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents a dazzling examination of a marriage over the course of 24 years.

MENTIONED IN:

Readers’ Choice: The 13 Best Books on Off the Shelf in 2017 (So Far)

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 31, 2017

The New “O” Book Club: 12 Fiction Picks from President Obama

By Julianna Haubner | January 17, 2017

14 Book Recommendations Based On Your Favorite TV Shows

By Tolani Osan | October 24, 2016

7 Perfect Summer Picks from a Fabulous Manhattanite

By Kelly Killoren Bensimon | June 9, 2016

13 Compulsively Readable Novels of Obsession

By Erica Nelson | May 5, 2016

13 Lena Dunham-Approved Books You Need to Read Right Now

By Hilary Krutt | April 14, 2016

Close

Nora Webster
by Colm Tóibín
Set in a small Irish village, Colm Tóibín’s latest novel introduces us to widowed mother Nora Webster, who must navigate the complexities of grief and loss while continuing to live her life. The president picked this one up at the D.C. bookstore Politics & Prose in 2014.
Nora Webster
Colm Tóibín

Set in the same village where Brooklyn begins, Colm Tóibín’s magnificent seventh novel introduces us to the formidable and deeply moving Nora Webster. Widowed at forty and with four children, Nora has lost the love of her life. Wounded but strong-willed, she is drowning in her own sorrow and blind to the suffering of her children. As she navigates the complexities of grief and loss, the novel shines with moments of courage, empathy, kindness, and hope.

MENTIONED IN:

The New “O” Book Club: 12 Fiction Picks from President Obama

By Julianna Haubner | January 17, 2017

13 Irish Writers to Read this St. Patrick’s Day

By Sarah Jane Abbott | March 15, 2016

Seven Reasons to Love This Great Irish Writer

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | March 17, 2015

Close

The Whites
by Richard Price

Though the reasons for his literary picks are rarely explained, it’s safe to say that the unfortunate contemporary debate over police-civilian relationships might have motivated the president to pick up Richard Price’s novel about a South Bronx cop trying to find redemption after a new case brings back memories of an old mistake.

The Whites
Richard Price

Though the reasons for his literary picks are rarely explained, it’s safe to say that the unfortunate contemporary debate over police-civilian relationships might have motivated the president to pick up Richard Price’s novel about a South Bronx cop trying to find redemption after a new case brings back memories of an old mistake.

MENTIONED IN:

The New “O” Book Club: 12 Fiction Picks from President Obama

By Julianna Haubner | January 17, 2017

Close

Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights
by Salman Rushdie

Every reader needs a little escapism, and the leader of the free world is likely no exception. Salman Rushdie’s fantastic (and fantastical) story centers on a storm in New York City that reawakens an ancient conflict between humans and the descendants of a mystical creature known as the Jinn.

Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights
Salman Rushdie

Every reader needs a little escapism, and the leader of the free world is likely no exception. Salman Rushdie’s fantastic (and fantastical) story centers on a storm in New York City that reawakens an ancient conflict between humans and the descendants of a mystical creature known as the Jinn.

MENTIONED IN:

Readers’ Choice: The 13 Best Books on Off the Shelf in 2017 (So Far)

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 31, 2017

The New “O” Book Club: 12 Fiction Picks from President Obama

By Julianna Haubner | January 17, 2017

Close

The Lowland
by Jhumpa Lahiri
In 2015, President Obama announced that Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest novel was one of 6 books on his summer reading list (we love an ambitious book packer!). THE LOWLAND follows 2 brothers bound by tragedy, a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past, a country torn by revolution, and a love that lasts long past death.
The Lowland
Jhumpa Lahiri

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, best-selling author of "The Namesake "comes an extraordinary new novel, set in both India and America, that expands the scope and range of one of our most dazzling storytellers: a tale of two brothers bound by tragedy, a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past, a country torn by revolution, and a love that lasts long past death.

MENTIONED IN:

Readers’ Choice: The 13 Best Books on Off the Shelf in 2017 (So Far)

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 31, 2017

The New “O” Book Club: 12 Fiction Picks from President Obama

By Julianna Haubner | January 17, 2017

Two Novels that will Redefine Your Sense of Self

By Maria Whelan | October 20, 2014

Close

The Narrow Road to the Deep North
by Richard Flanagan

POTUS showed off his cultural knowledge once again in 2015, when he picked up this Man Booker Prize–winning novel by Richard Flanagan. THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH is a sweeping story that moves from a Japanese POW camp to present-day Australia and explores the important themes of war and truth, love and death.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North
Richard Flanagan

POTUS showed off his cultural knowledge once again in 2015, when he picked up this Man Booker Prize–winning novel by Richard Flanagan. THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH is a sweeping story that moves from a Japanese POW camp to present-day Australia and explores the important themes of war and truth, love and death.

MENTIONED IN:

Readers’ Choice: The 13 Best Books on Off the Shelf in 2017 (So Far)

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 31, 2017

The New “O” Book Club: 12 Fiction Picks from President Obama

By Julianna Haubner | January 17, 2017

Close

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
by Anthony Marra
Set in a small rural village in Chechnya, Anthony Marra’s novel about love, compassion, and war centers around a young girl named Havaa and the neighbor who takes her in after Russian soldiers abduct her father and set fire to her home. The president likely picked it up in 2013 as an accompaniment to his briefings on the conflict still brewing overseas.
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
Anthony Marra

In a small rural village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa watches from the woods as Russian soldiers abduct her father in the middle of the night and then set fire to her home. When their lifelong neighbor Akhmed finds Havaa hiding in the forest with a strange blue suitcase, he makes a decision that will forever change their lives. A story of the transcendent power of love in wartime, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a work of sweeping breadth, profound compassion, and lasting significance.

MENTIONED IN:

Readers’ Choice: The 13 Best Books on Off the Shelf in 2017 (So Far)

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 31, 2017

The New “O” Book Club: 12 Fiction Picks from President Obama

By Julianna Haubner | January 17, 2017

12 Books to Cozy Up With This Fall

By Off the Shelf Staff | October 20, 2015

Out of the Mouths of Babes: Debut Novelists Under 30

By Off the Shelf Staff | January 27, 2015

Close

Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson
A National Book Award winner and favorite of many adults, Jacqueline Woodson’s young adult masterpiece is a collection of poems that reveal what it was like for her to grow up in South Carolina and New York in the 1960s and ’70s, among the remnants of Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement.
Brown Girl Dreaming
Jacqueline Woodson

Raised in South Carolina and New York, Jacqueline Woodson always felt half at home in each place. In mesmerizing verse, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. The winner of the 2014 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, each poem in Brown Girl Dreaming is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a young girl’s soul as she searches for her place in the world.

MENTIONED IN:

The New “O” Book Club: 12 Fiction Picks from President Obama

By Julianna Haubner | January 17, 2017

11 Essential Reads for Women’s History Month

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | March 10, 2015

Close

Tinkers
by Paul Harding

One of the first books publicly shared by the president after taking office in 2009, Paul Harding’s debut novel is a Pulitzer Prize winner and is a meditation on life, loss, illness, faith, and nature, told through the perspective of a dying old man. As the clock runs down, his memories intertwine with those of his father and grandfather.

Tinkers
Paul Harding

One of the first books publicly shared by the president after taking office in 2009, Paul Harding’s debut novel is a Pulitzer Prize winner and is a meditation on life, loss, illness, faith, and nature, told through the perspective of a dying old man. As the clock runs down, his memories intertwine with those of his father and grandfather.

MENTIONED IN:

The Little List: 11 Short Books with Big Stories

By Aimee Boyer | April 7, 2017

Readers’ Choice: The 13 Best Books on Off the Shelf in 2017 (So Far)

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 31, 2017

The New “O” Book Club: 12 Fiction Picks from President Obama

By Julianna Haubner | January 17, 2017

Close

Rodin's Debutante
by Ward Just

It’s not hard to imagine why the former Chicago resident picked Ward Just’s historical epic set in the Windy City. Following the life of Lee Goodell, a man whose life was once changed by a Gatsbyesque figure named Tommy Ogden, RODIN’S DEBUTANTE explores the ways in which we remember, and how we decide which moments shape us forever.

Rodin's Debutante
Ward Just

It’s not hard to imagine why the former Chicago resident picked Ward Just’s historical epic set in the Windy City. Following the life of Lee Goodell, a man whose life was once changed by a Gatsbyesque figure named Tommy Ogden, RODIN’S DEBUTANTE explores the ways in which we remember, and how we decide which moments shape us forever.

MENTIONED IN:

The New “O” Book Club: 12 Fiction Picks from President Obama

By Julianna Haubner | January 17, 2017

Close

Thank you for joining our email list!

If you create and Off the Shelf account, you'll be able to save books to your personal bookshelf, and be eligible for free books and other good stuff.

Click here to create your free account.

Debugging information below
(This will not show up in Production)

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 18791
    [post_author] => 55302
    [post_date] => 2017-01-17 09:39:46
    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-01-17 14:39:46
    [post_content] => President Obama has made it clear over the past 8 years that books are a big part of his life—whether he’s shopping on Small Business Saturday or releasing his vacation reading list. (Plus, he did an impressive interview with author Marilynne Robinson, which you can listen to here. Cross your fingers for a post–White House podcast!) A bestselling author himself, our reader-in-chief has followed his predecessors in recommending some great nonfiction titles, but has surprised us all by being a particularly prolific fiction reader as well. Here are some of the books he’s picked up during his time in office.
    [post_title] => The New “O” Book Club: 12 Fiction Picks from President Obama
    [post_excerpt] => President Obama has made it clear over the past 8 years that books are a big part of his life—whether he’s shopping on Small Business Saturday or releasing his vacation reading list. (Plus, he did an impressive interview with author Marilynne Robinson, which you can listen to here. Cross your fingers for a post–White House podcast!) A bestselling author himself, our reader-in-chief has followed his predecessors in recommending some great nonfiction titles, but has surprised us all by being a particularly prolific fiction reader as well. Here are some of the books he’s picked up during his time in office.  
    [post_status] => publish
    [comment_status] => open
    [ping_status] => open
    [post_password] => 
    [post_name] => the-new-o-book-club-12-fiction-picks-from-president-obama
    [to_ping] => 
    [pinged] => 
    [post_modified] => 2017-04-24 15:35:17
    [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-24 19:35:17
    [post_content_filtered] => 
    [post_parent] => 0
    [guid] => http://offtheshelf.com/?p=18791
    [menu_order] => 0
    [post_type] => post
    [post_mime_type] => 
    [comment_count] => 4
    [filter] => raw
)