Obama updates summer reading list
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Former President Obama on Friday released an update to his annual recommendations for summer reading ahead of his vacation to Africa this week. 

“This week, I’m traveling to Africa for the first time since I left office — a continent of wonderful diversity, thriving culture, and remarkable stories,” Obama said in a post on Facebook.

“Over the years since, I've often drawn inspiration from Africa's extraordinary literary tradition,” he continued. “As I prepare for this trip, I wanted to share a list of books that I’d recommend for summer reading, including some from a number of Africa’s best writers and thinkers — each of whom illuminate our world in powerful and unique ways.”

The former president recommended six books ahead of his trip, including five set in Africa, such as Chinua Achebe's classic novel "Things Fall Apart."

Obama's list also includes “The World As It Is” by his former national security aide Ben Rhodes. 

Excerpts from Rhodes’s memoir captured headlines in the weeks leading up to its release, with his inside-the-Oval-Office storytelling reflecting Obama's views on multiple topics, including the 2016 election. 

“It’s true, Ben does not have African blood running through his veins. But few others so closely see the world through my eyes like he can,” Obama said of the memoir. “Ben’s one of the few who’ve been with me since that first presidential campaign. His memoir is one of the smartest reflections I’ve seen as to how we approached foreign policy, and one of the most compelling stories I’ve seen about what it’s actually like to serve the American people for eight years in the White House.” 

Obama’s list also includes “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a book about two Nigerians making their way into the United States and the United Kingdom that Obama said raises "universal questions of race and belonging.” 

The former president also included “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela, a memoir on the life of South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, which Obama called an essential read for “anyone who wants to understand history — and then go out and change it.”

Obama has made an annual tradition of the reading recommendations and released his official list for 2018 last month.