What has former president Barack Obama been doing since leaving office in January 2017? There was jury duty, a few speeches, kitesurfing with Richard Branson, and of course some golf, but it looks like our last president still had plenty of time to kill last year.
"With some extra time on my hands this year to catch up, I wanted to share the books and music that I enjoyed most. From songs that got me moving to stories that inspired me, here's my 2017 list -- I hope you enjoy it," he wrote a few days ago on Facebook.
What follows is a catalog of the books and music that most impacted Obama last year. Those looking to full up their playlists, can click over for a look at his favorite tunes of 2017, but here are all the books the former president turned super reader recommends:
1. The Power by Naomi Alderman
2017 was full of revelations about the ugly things that can happen when men hold positions of power over women. But what if it was the other way around? This work of speculative fiction imagines a universe where girls are granted a strange new power that allows them to turn the tables on men. "The novel is constructed as a big, brash, page-turning, drug-running, globetrotting thriller," writes The Guardian's Justine Jordan. "But it's also endlessly nuanced and thought-provoking."
2. Grant by Ron Chernow
Obama isn't the only former president endorsing this biography. "This is a good time for Ron Chernow's fine biography of Ulysses S. Grant to appear," wrote Bill Clinton in the New York Times Book Review. "As Americans continue the struggle to defend justice and equality in our tumultuous and divisive era, we need to know what Grant did when our country's very existence hung in the balance. If we still believe in forming a more perfect union, his steady and courageous example is more valuable than ever."
3. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
A heart-rending look at the shockingly common experience of eviction among the poor in Milwaukee (and across the country), this book also won praise from Bill Gates (whose foundation is now supporting the author's research).
4. Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein
Dubbed the best business book of the year last year by The Financial Times and McKinsey, this one by a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist looks at what happened to Janesville, Wisconsin when a General Motors factory that had been operating in the town for 85 years closed.
5. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
A frequent flyer on 2017 best books lists and a Booker Prize finalist, this novel by the celebrated Pakistani writer updates the classic girl-meets-boy story for our troubled times, following along as characters Saeed and Nadia flee an unnamed war-ravaged country to become refugees first in Europe and then the U.S.
6. Five-Carat Soul by James McBride
Looking for something a little lighter? This collection of short stories by a National Book award-winning writer, "feature telepathic zoo animals, a zealous toy collector and an eavesdropping Abraham Lincoln," reports the FT. Other commentators agree it's a whole lot of fun, while still managing to be moving and insightful.
7. Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
"An unforgettable cast of small-town characters copes with love and loss in this new work of fiction by number one bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout," explains Amazon.
8. Dying: A Memoir by Cory Taylor
As much as we may like to ignore the fact, one day we'll all face the urgent question at the center of this memoir - how to die well. No, this book won't offer you many chuckles, but it might help readers break through our culture's unhelpful silence around our inevitable end and think through how to go about the final chapter of life with some dignity.
9. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
This one is a novel set in the early days of the Soviet Union about a man who is ordered to live out his life in the luxurious confines of Moscow's Metropol hotel. Called stylish, elegant and charming by reviewers, the book "buzzes with the energy of numerous adventures, love affairs, twists of fate and silly antics," raves the Wall Street Journal.
10. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Part road novel, part ghost story, this National Book Award winner set in rural Mississippi follows a troubled mother and her two children as they drive to pick up the children's father from prison. "Sing, Unburied, Sing journeys through Mississippi's past and present, examining the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power--and limitations--of family bonds," notes Amazon.
Are you a basketball obsessive like Obama? Check out his complete Facebook post for a few bonus titles that will only be of interest to die-hard hoops fans.