4 Key Takeaways from Barack Obama's Infamous Lists, Leadership, Journey and More The truths that the former American president, Barack Obama parted with in a recent interview are no short of pearls of wisdom.

By Kavya Pillai

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Barack Obama, who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017, recently spoke about his famous end-of-year lists, how the events that transpired in the US have affected his mental health and the dreams he saw in the White House. Obama released his first official such list of book recommendations in 2009 which was just a few months after taking office.

He continued to share summer reading recommendations throughout his presidency except for two years, 2012 and 2013, where one can imagine he was swamped with his presidency. In 2017, after leaving office and undoubtedly regaining some free time for leisure reading, the former president also began releasing the 'best books of the year' list, alongside similar roundups. These round-ups include other entertainments or shall we say varied content like music, shows and movies. Obama has made it clear that when it comes to his lists, they are curated by no one else but himself, "unless I'm actually listening to it, watching it, reading it, I won't put it on there," he said in an interview.

1. Music playlist

Obama is known for using his social media to voice his thoughts on current events but also share a curated list of shows, movies, books and especially music. His music list has often shocked (social media) followers by including new-age and trendy artists such as Bad Bunny, Harry Styles, Burna Boys and more. When asked about the inclusion of young artists, the president clapped back saying, "Somehow y'all think you invented rock and roll." "You invented hip-hop," he told Hasan Minhaj and explained that his list depends on his taste and not whether an artist is new or old. What is really interesting to learn is the importance and recognition the former president gives to music and a good playlist to get you through tumultuous days.

2. Feeling depressed

Bearing in mind the current state of events in America like the overturne of Roe vs Wade hearing, book bans and school shootings or global problems such as climate change, the former president was asked by the host of the Patriot Act, Hasan Minhaj if he ever felt depressed. Obama responds by saying that there are times when he does feel depressed because "when you see an entire school terrified because a gunman is walking in with weapons of war if your heart's not breaking then something's wrong with you." The former President also reveals a strange recurring dream he had while in the White House. "I did have dreams where I wasn't president–and they were some of my happiest dreams," he tells Minhaj. He described dreams where he could just walk into a bodega and get an iced coffee. "I'd sit on a bench and suddenly I realised that nobody recognises me," he recalled. "And that's the only thing that happened in the dream: I'd just be sitting there, chill. And I felt like I won the lottery."

3. Books

The titles that Obama adds to his lists are incredibly diverse both in subjects and authors. They are far from boring political tomes written by old white men that one might expect to dwell on the nightstands of former presidents. The 13 titles included in Obama's Favorite Books of 2022, have nine works of fiction and four non-fiction, eight women authors and eight BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) authors. His list has also included the book by his wife and former First Lady Michelle Obama, The Light We Carry. One may not approach these books as pages of what makes a good president but as a guide to explore perspectives and glide through genres. The least you could learn is a skill to appreciate and listen to what people, individuals and each life brings to the table.

4. Our Future

In his conversation with Minhaj, Obama lists big events such as World War I, World War II and the Great Depression. He followed these examples by explaining that they are significantly worse than the problems we face today in an attempt for people to put things in perspective."You grew up and, in some ways, I grew up in this anomalous stretch of time in which even though bad things were happening, for the most part, the trajectory of humanity was things were getting better," Obama said. "We're becoming less racist and less sexist and less homophobic and better educated and healthier," he added. Obama explained that climate change is another worry of his, given the number of forest fires, "we're not moving as fast as we need to" to fight climate change. To deal with the current times Obama explained that one must try to put things into perspective and the key is "not to be blind to the genuine challenges and threats that are in front of us".

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