Barack Obama shares his favorite books, music and movies of 2018. Sorry, television

Everybody’s a critic, including former President Barack Obama, who dropped a list of his favorite books, movies and music from 2018 on Facebook.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

Former President Barack Obama weighed in on the best pop culture of 2018 on Friday, posting his favorite books, movies and music of the year on his official Facebook page.

Sorry, television. Better luck next year.

“As 2018 draws to a close, I’m continuing a favorite tradition of mine and sharing my year-end lists,” Obama wrote. “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.”

“It also gives me a chance to highlight talented authors, artists, and storytellers,” he continued, “some who are household names and others who you may not have heard of before.”


First up on Obama’s list? “Becoming,” written by one of those “household names” he mentioned earlier, wife and former First Lady Michelle Obama.

“Obviously my favorite,” he added.

Always a wise man, former President Barack Obama’s favorite book of 2018 is wife Michelle Obama’s memoir, “Becoming.”
(Jim Young / AFP/Getty Images)

Obama then went on to recap the books he name-checked earlier in the year, including books from his summer recommendations list: “Educated” by Tara Westover, “Warlight” by Michael Ondaatje, “An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones and “Factfulness” by Hans Rosling, among others.

New books not before praised by the former president included “Feel Free” by Zadie Smith, “Florida” by Lauren Groff and “There There” by Tommy Orange.

Meanwhile, Obama’s list of top 2018 films would rival the year-end list of any of your favorite film critics. In fact, eight of Obama’s 15 favorite films of the year show up on Times’ film critic Justin Chang’s top 20 of 2018.


Obama’s list included “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” and “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

Delving into the world of film is a relatively new move for Obama, as previous years allowed him only enough time to list his favorite music and books of the year.

The former president’s music preferences are as diverse as ever, spanning indie, pop, rock, soul, R&B and hip-hop and spans new releases, including Janelle Monáe’s “Make Me Feel” and Courtney Barnett’s “Need a Little Time,” music standards including “The Great American Songbook” by Nancy Wilson, and newly-released, posthumous songs such as Prince’s “Mary Don’t You Weep,” the “Piano & a Microphone 1983” version.

Tidal subscribers can find a playlist of Obama’s choices here.


And yet, for all those pop culture picks, the former president still couldn’t spare a mention for peak TV.

For those who demand to know what Obama thought about television this year, let us hazard a few guesses.

He was probably sad that “Game of Thrones” wasn’t on — Obama famously got screeners of the HBO fantasy when no one was getting screeners of the HBO fantasy. He almost certainly enjoyed the outstanding conclusion of “The Americans” — stars of the FX series Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell attended a state dinner at the White House in 2016 after learning Obama was a fan.

And he probably grudgingly watched the final tortured season of “House of Cards,” not because he’s a fan — which he was — but because of his very lucrative production deal with Netflix.