Here’s Barack Obama’s Favorite Books and Music of 2017

Former President Barack Obama used the newfound “extra time on [his] hands” to do plenty of reading in 2017, according to his annual year-end roundup of books and music.

“During my presidency, I started a tradition of sharing my reading lists and playlists,” Obama wrote on Facebook Sunday. “It was a nice way to reflect on the works that resonated with me and lift up authors and artists from around the world. With some extra time on my hands this year to catch up, I wanted to share the books and music that I enjoyed most.”

Obama’s book list includes a healthy mix of fiction (The Power, by Naomi Alderman), non-fiction (Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond) and memoirs (Dying, by Cory Taylor).

The former president’s 2017 playlist is even more diverse, running the gamut from Camila Cabello’s “Havana” to Bruce Springsteen’s classic “Born in the U.S.A.” (“Not out yet, but the blues version in his Broadway show is the best!” Obama added of the latter.)

You can see all of Obama’s recommendations in his Facebook post.


Derick Dillard: My Kids Don’t Need Picture Books, They Need Jesus!

As we all know, Derick Dillard considers allowing trans kids to be themselves is “child abuse.” But have you wondered what he thinks good parenting looks like?

Apparently, he thinks that it looks like two incredibly bored children.

At least, Derick decided to read to his two very young sons the story of Jesus’ birth, directly from the Bible. No photos. And fans were quick to comment with their very strong opinions.

Derick Dillard captioned his photoset:

“Christmas Eve, reading the Christmas story with my boys. Doesn’t get much better than that! Thank you Jesus!”

For some families, that’s a tradition. For others it isn’t.

Though fans were divided, let’s start with the priase that he earned.

“Beautiful family. God bless you all!”

That’s sweet.

“You are such a great dad, Derick! Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family.”

We don’t know that a “great dad” would go on social media and repeatedly slam a teenage girl because he disagrees with her identity, but … well, he’s been fired for that.

“I’m not really a religious person. most normal everyday average people I know DO read the Christmas story out of the Bible on Christmas to their children and some not even really religious people do also.”

Interestingly, I’d personally never heard of that tradition, but I believe that plenty of folks do it.

“There is nothing abnormal,” that commenter continued. “About this and how they read the Christmas story Christmas Eve.”

That same commenter continued:

“I am sure the Duggars have children’s books as well but to come to someone’s page and tell them how to raise their children — takes much gall. Wow”

Another saw criticism of Derick and lashed out:

“Remember, you’re commenting with very sick, wicked souls! These people hate God, His Son Jesus Christ and God’s word. They’re just here to tear down anything Christian!”

That is the sort of paranoia that you see sometimes. If you believe that a critique of one man is an attack against an entire faith, you … probably need to relax.

Another affirmed that they thought that reading directly from the Bible is what they prefer:

“Some of us believe that straight from the Bible is best. Not watered down versions of the Christmas story. Some children’s bible books are excellent don’t get me wrong, however reading straight from Gods word every Christmas is an amazing tradition.”

Others chimed in, suggesting that reading directly from the Bible isn’t ideal with young children, especially when one of the listeners is a literal baby.

“Kids like kid’s books, not old fashioned text. fine if you want to read them the nativity story but at least do it in a format that they understand. kids like pictures.”

Children do enjoy picture books. Especially when they’re still learning words. (Again, Samuel is a literal baby)

“The whole situation is very creepy.”

That comment, we imagine, has less to do with the reading and more to do with Derick using it as a photo op.

“I bet these kids would appreciate having a dad who cares enough about them to get off his lazy butt and get a.job so he can support them as opposed to grifting clueless fans to support them.”

That, of course, is a jab at how Derick Dillard begs fans for cash. Especially now that he’s lost his spot on Counting On.

Another commenter chimed in:

“They aren’t in harm way they grift in Arkansas”

Others took issue with Derick Dillard’s parenting.

“Aww! It looked like Izzy was going to hug little Sam before his daddy pulled him away to make him listen to something he can’t fully understand yet.”

Israel and Samuel were clearly more interested in each other (awww!) than in listening to their father read.

“Why aren’t you acknowledging little Sam? Your arm isn’t even around him. At least Izzy and Jill love that sweet baby.”

Derick seemed invested in his little photo op.

“There are so many wonderful children’s books targeted to their ages, which would include pictures and be ever so much more appropriate for these two.”

If you’re going to do an activity with your children, it should be tailored to your children.

To their interests and their capabilities.

Even a baby as young as Samuel can look at a picture book, and maybe understand a few more words in the process.

Still, it seems like a harmless tradition, and some people — on both sides — got super worked up about it.

Maybe it’s because Derick Dillard himself is such a divisive figure? In which case, we’d question why he doesn’t lay low on social media for a while.

But then we remember that he likes to beg for money and then use those donated funds to go out to dinner.

The Hollywood Gossip

10 Books that Will Inspire You to Visit Africa

A person holding a book
Welcome to the latest post in our Africa column by Natasha and Cameron from The World Pursuit. This month they are sharing their favorite books about the continent that will inspire you to visit!

When we first decided to travel around Africa, I called a family friend from Swaziland. She gave me an hour-long run down of travel on the continent and threw in a nice list of books to read. The first one I picked up was The Elephant Whisperer. In some ways Lawrence Anthony’s story about the bond he forms with a wild elephant herd captures the magic you can only find in Africa. The feeling is almost palpable and the air at times feels electric.

The diverse continent has no shortage of inspiration for stories. It’s supplied us an endless stream of books to consume during our travels. Here are my 10 favorite books to read about Africa:

Disgrace, by J. M. Coetzee

Disgrace by J. M. CoetzeeSouth African author J. M. Coetzee won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and this beautiful but tragic novel left me traumatized. It’s a dark and disturbing tale of disgrace. A university professor is dismissed from his job after an affair. He escapes to his daughter’s farm in the Eastern Cape and is forced to come to terms with the reality of life after an attack in which his daughter is raped and impregnated and he is brutally beaten. The book is heavy, but it does a great job of depicting the violence of post-apartheid South Africa. This book will elicit a lot of heavy emotions.

Out of Africa, by Karen Blixen

Out of AfricaI had for a long time put off reading the book, scoffing at the idea of a foreigner writing an evocative novel on Africa. However, when I read an excerpt in the Masai Mara, I changed my mind. What I love about this book is the language. Karen was a true poet, and her deep affection for the bush and Africa’s people — and writing — make you fall in love, too. The book draws you in and makes you want to be transported back to yesteryear and experience the romance of exploration and nature. In many ways it portrays what we love about traveling Africa, which in many places is still untamed. I also found it to be quite spiritual.

Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith

Number One Ladies’ Detective AgencyThis long-running series tells the story of a women’s detective agency based in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. The first book follows Mma Precious Ramotswe as she works to found her own detective agency. I love the spunk of her character! It’s all about bringing girl power to the African continent, where many women are still considered second-class citizens. To see a woman tackling gender stereotypes in Botswana is exciting.

Humor, adventure, and life fill the pages and make these novels special. Africa can be a dark place in literature at times, so when a fun and light book comes along, it should be celebrated. Every book in the series is fairly short, making them perfect to take to the beach or pool, on safari, or into your lodge.

The State of Africa, by Martin Meredith

The State of AfricaThe book is a bit heavy and factual. However, if you want to understand modern-day Africa and the challenges that the continent faces, there is no better book. Martin Meredith effectively gives a crash course in African politics, starting with the birth of African nations. He offers perspective on the poverty and challenges facing Africa. Despite the book’s density, Meredith’s writing keeps the reader’s attention with his wit and insights. It’s thought provoking and will likely shatter any preconceived notions. I found the book enlightening and informational, and I believe that having a deep knowledge of the political workings and history of Africa will also lead to more in-depth conversations with educated locals.

Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Half of a Yellow SunThis disturbing but engrossing novel takes readers through the Biafran War (Nigerian Civil War) through perspectives of various characters. The book provides a haunting glimpse into the brutality of Nigeria’s civil war, portraying the hardships that both sides endured. (Sadly it’s a story we find all across the African continent: lines are drawn in the sand and tribalism often lead to the clash of neighbors, friends, and even family.) I felt the pain of each side pitted against the other, and at times it was hard to distinguish right and wrong. The book will tear at your heart.

The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild, by Lawrence Anthony

The Elephant WhispererLeave it to a book about elephants to be the happiest on this list. In order to save a rogue herd from being culled, Lawrence Anthony introduces them to his private game reserve, Thula Thula, in South Africa. What ensues is a heartwarming story that connects the audience with the beauty of these amazing creatures. The connection that Lawrence forms with the matriarch of the herd will transform the way you perceive animal intelligence and emotion. (His next book, The Last Rhinos, is also worth reading).

Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds, by Joy Adamson

Born FreeI had to pick this book up after finishing The Elephant Whisperer. Elsa is the famous Kenyan lioness who was raised by George and Joy Adamson. The two conservationists took on the daring task of raising the cub in captivity after George orphaned her by killing the mother, teaching her to fend for herself in the wild. It’s an amazing story about companionship and love in the African bush. I’m a firm believer in conservation and that we simply need more people to care about these animals. So books like this, which bring to light the beauty of the animals we share our planet with, are important.

The End of the Game, by Peter Beard

The End of the Game While The Elephant Whisperer is heartwarming and beautiful, The End of the Game is gut-wrenching. Throughout the ’60s and ’70s, Peter Beard spent much of his time working and photographing Tsavo National Park. A drought swept through the park, and the large population of elephants were confined with little food and water. The result was a mass killing. Beard’s diaries turned coffee table books are a work of art and at times a glimpse into the mind of a mad genius. He famously used his own blood and animal remains in his journals. He’s also one of those legendary artists whose life is hard to believe sometimes. He was married to Cheryl Tiegs and hung out with the likes of Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, Truman Capote, and Karen Blixen. Despite being nearly 40 years old, the book accurately portrays the problems facing conservationism in Africa to this day.

Long Walk to Freedom, by Nelson Mandela

Long Walk to Freedom“As I finally walked through those gates to enter a car on the other side, I felt — even at the age of seventy-one — that my life was beginning anew. My ten thousand days of imprisonment were over.” What more can be said about Nelson Mandela? He is possibly one of the most influential and inspirational Africans to have lived. When he passed away in 2013, it was a loss to the world. His autobiography — almost mandatory on any list of books about Africa — covers the span of his life up until he becomes president of South Africa. His humility, morality, and spirit were never broken. I find his words moving and evocative, and we can all find power in his writings.

Palace Walk, by Naguib Mahfouz

Palace WalkThis first novel in Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy charts Egypt as it moves into the modern age. Set just after the end of World War I, this epic follows a Cairo merchant whose family follows strict social and religious rules. The book’s omniscient narrator does an excellent job of never passing judgment on the characters’ flaws, instead allowing their actions to speak for themselves. The book gave me a revealing glimpse into North African and Arabic culture. If you are heading to North Africa I highly recommend giving this beautiful novel a read.

There are so many great books about Africa that can offer a better sense of the continent. I believe exploring literature is just as important as exploring the world. Every piece of literature on Africa you read shines a bit more light on a place that can still be referred to as the “Dark Continent.”

Natasha and Cameron run the blog The World Pursuit, focusing on adventure and cultural travel. The two of them met in the film industry before they decided to abandon the American lifestyle and travel the world. They’ve been traveling together for three years across 55 countries and six continents. They recently bought a 4×4 at the tip of Africa and are traversing the continent while documenting their story on Instagram and Facebook.

P.S. – Want to step up your travel hacking game? I’m speaking at Frequent Traveler University’s Expo in Chicago on November 18th. It’s the world’s largest travel, points, and miles event and there are some good speakers there. You can click here to get your ticket. Also, as a reader of this site, you get 75% off the ticket price with the code “NOMAD”.

The post 10 Books that Will Inspire You to Visit Africa appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

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19 Most Ridiculous Celebrity Books in Human History

The following books are real. They exist. They were actually written by people who thought they were good ideas.

And these people were celebrities!

Which is what makes this collection all the more ridiculous and noteworthy.

Scroll down for a look at books that various stars thought were good ideas to write at the time, but which have simply given us many reasons to laugh hilariously at them instead…

1. Farrah Abraham

Farrah abraham book cover
As if making a celebrity sex tape was not bad enough, Farrah thought it would be a good idea to write a book about the making of it. Um, no. Farrah, please get a real job.

2. Kim Kardashian

Kim kardashian book cover
If you can’t write, you could follow Kim Kardashian’s tactic and just release a selfie book. The porn-star-turned-entrepreneur got a lot of people talking about the book, but it made money.

3. Naomi Campbell

Naomi campbell book cover
Campbell sent her ideas for the book to a ghostwriter, and we are very sure the ghostwriter burst out laughing when he/she heard them. Five models fight it out for the contract of retiring supermodel Swan. What the heck?

4. Charlie Sheen

Charlie sheen book cover
Charlie Sheen is one of those celebrities who is just all over the place. He was fired from Two and a Half Men for his erratic behavior … even though he was making a lot of money. Before that, Charlie released a poetry book that got some positive comments from John Stamos.

5. Lauren Conrad

Lauren conrad book cover
Lauren Conrad is a reality TV star and fashion guru. She decided to make the step to writing fiction with a book loosely based on her life. Despite giving it her all, it was a trainwreck.

6. Macaulay Culkin

Macaulay culkin book cover
Macaulay decided to try and make his way back into the spotlight with a book. The book included random drawings, thoughts and a whole lot of gibberish.

View Slideshow
The Hollywood Gossip

10 best books of May 2017, according to Amazon’s editors

May’s releases bring something for every reader, from Jeffrey Kluger’s real-life space chronicle ‘Apollo 8’ to a short story collection from ‘Empire Falls’ author Richard Russo. Amazon editors have selected what they consider to be the cream of the crop – here’s the full list with thoughts from Amazon senior editor Chris Schluep.

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