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President Obama’s favorite films, books, and music of 2023

It’s time for one of our favorite traditions: President Obama’s annual list of top picks! From books to movies to music, check out some of the stories and art that resonated with President Obama in 2023.

President Obama smiles as he listens to a Black male with a deep skin tone rap from his phone. He is wearing glasses and a neon green cap. Two males with deep skin tones are in the background.
A white graphic with a multicolored blue-green border reads “Barack Obama’s Favorite Books of 2023: The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride; The Maniac by Benjamin Labatut; Poverty, By America by Matthew Desmond; How to Say Babylon by Safiya Sinclair; The Wager by David Grann; The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff; Humanly Possible by Sarah Bakewell; King: A Life by Jonathan Eigh; The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese; The Best Minds by Jonathan Rosen; All the Sinners Bleed by S.A. Cosby; The Kingdom, The Power, and The Glory by Tim Alberta; Some People Need Killing by Patricia Evangelista; and This Other Eden by Paul Harding.”


A white graphic with a multicolored blue-green border reads “Barack Obama’s Favorite Music of 2023: TQG by Karol G & Shakira; I Remember Everything by Zach Bryan ft. Kacey Musgraves; Sprinter by Dave & Central Cee; Since I Have a Lover by 6LACK; Cobra by Megan Thee Stallion; Joiner by Blondshell; Midnight Gospel by Alé Araya ft. Joseph Chilliams; America Has a Problem by Beyoncé ft. Kendrick Lamar; Water by Tyla; The Returner by Allison Russell; Unavailable by Davido ft. Musa Keys; My Love Mine All Mine by Mitski; Sittin’ On Top of the World by Burna Boy ft. 21 Savage; Vampire Empire by Big Thief; younger & Dumber by Indigo De Souza; Toxic Trait by Stormzy ft. Fredo; Where You Are by John Summit & Hayla; La Bebe (Remix) by Yng Lvcas & Peso Pluma; On My Mama by Victoria Monét; Cast Iron Skillet by Jason Isbel and the 400 Unit; WY@ by Brent Faiyaz; Amapiano by Asake & Olamide; Lose Control by Teddy Swims; Crazy Love by Rita WIlson & Keith Urban; Drink the River by Gabe Lee; Road to Freedom by Lenny Kravitz; It Never Went Away by Jon Batiste; and Me & U by Tems.”


A white graphic with a multicolored blue-green border reads “Barack Obama’s Favorite Movies of 2023: Rustin, Leave the World Behind, American Symphony, The Holdovers, Blackberry, Oppenheimer, American Fiction, Anatomy of a Fall, Monster, Past Lives, Air, Polite Society, A Thousand And One, and The Color Purple.”


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The Center

President Obama has always believed that the arts are a powerful form of expression in a democratic culture and platform to fuel positive change.  That belief will be reflected in the future Obama Presidential Center, which will feature a community recording studio, auditorium, and a new branch of the Chicago Public Library! You can learn more about the Center here.

Learn about the Center