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Barack Obama took a break from promoting his own book to highlight 17 of the year’s best

Former president Barack Obama speaks at the 2019 My Brother's Keeper Alliance Summit in Oakland, Calif. (Jeff Chiu/AP)
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Barack Obama has been on a relentless virtual publicity tour for the first installment of his presidential memoir, “A Promised Land.” But between the BookTube appearance and the Booker Prize ceremony, the well-read former commander in chief still carved out time to spotlight some of his favorite books of the year.

The 17 titles, which Obama announced on Twitter, are an eclectic mix of fiction and nonfiction, with some titles you’d expect — Anne Applebaum’s “Twilight of Democracy,” “The Splendid and the Vile,” by Erik Larson — commingling with science fiction, suspense and memoir. Four of his picks, “Homeland Elegies,” “Memorial Drive,” “Hidden Valley Road” and “Caste,” also appeared on our own Top 10 list.

The best books of 2020

Though “A Promised Land,” which has sold more than 3 million copies, did not appear among Obama’s picks, he did add that he believed it was “a pretty good book.”

Here’s the full list:

“Homeland Elegies,” by Ayad Akhtar

“Jack,” by Marilynne Robinson

“Caste,” by Isabel Wilkerson

“The Splendid and the Vile,” by Erik Larson

“Luster,” by Raven Leilani

“How Much of These Hills Is Gold,” by C Pam Zhang

“Long Bright River,” by Liz Moore

“Memorial Drive,” by Natasha Trethewey

“Twilight of Democracy,” by Anne Applebaum

“Deacon King Kong,” by James McBride

“The Undocumented Americans,” by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

“The Vanishing Half,” by Brit Bennett

“The Glass Hotel,” by Emily St. John Mandel

“Hidden Valley Road,” by Robert Kolker

“The Ministry for the Future,” by Kim Stanley Robinson

“Sharks in the Time of Saviors,” by Kawai Strong Washburn

“Missionaries,” by Phil Klay

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