If you know Chicago, you know my hometown has a thing about sports. It’s not just about a little healthy crosstown competition, or a streak of championships in the 90s—it’s that spirit of collective power that makes it possible to find hope for what's to come, even on the coldest February day. Today in Chicago, my friends @realmikewilbon, @giannisan34, @kevinlove, and @cp3 joined me for a conversation about that unique power of sports to uplift a community and congregate the next generation of leaders—and how the future Obama Presidential Center will do just that for kids on the South Side.
Oscar nominations came out today and I’m glad to see American Factory’s nod for Best Documentary. I like this film for its nuanced, honest portrayal of the way a changing global economy plays out in real lives. It offers a window into people as they actually are and it’s the kind of story we don’t see often enough. This is exactly what Michelle and I hope to achieve through Higher Ground. Congratulations to the incredible filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, and the entire team!
Next up are my favorite movies and TV shows of 2019. This year’s list includes everything from explorations of class dynamics and relationships, to an inspired reboot of a classic graphic novel, to a portal back to one of the most special places in history — an Aretha Franklin concert. Of course, there’s also American Factory, a film from our own production company, Higher Ground, that was recently shortlisted for an Oscar. It’s our first offering in partnership with Netflix, and I’m excited about the other projects we’ve got in the works. Here’s the full list:
Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing my annual list of favorites — books, films, and music — with all of you. This has become a fun little tradition for me, and I hope it is for you, too. Because while each of us has plenty that keeps us busy—work and family life, social and volunteer commitments—outlets like literature and art can enhance our day-to-day experiences. They’re the fabric that helps make up a life—the album that lifts us up after a long day, the dog-eared paperback we grab off the shelf to give to a friend, the movie that makes us think and feel in a new way, works that simply help us escape for a bit. To start, here are the books that made the last year a little brighter for me. Most of them came out in 2019, but a few were older ones that were new to me this year. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Last week, Michelle and I had a chance to join the @ObamaFoundation Leaders for an afternoon of community service in Kuala Lumpur. Together, we built furniture for local schools in need of some refurbishing. It was inspiring to see these emerging young leaders so motivated to help those in need—and a reminder that Michelle is much better with power tools than I am.
Growing up in Indonesia and Hawaii instilled in me a sense of cooperation and community. It was meaningful to return to the region with my little sister Maya and spend time with hundreds of emerging @ObamaFoundation leaders from across the Asia Pacific. My message to them was simple: Rejoice in this opportunity to change the world. If we stick with it, even if we can't always see it ourselves, we will change the world for the better.
I thought it was about time I share my holiday gift list — a few practical, affordable items, all for $10 or less. But the best one is no joke: Health care for you or somebody you care about. This year, most current HealthCare.gov customers can find an insurance plan with a monthly premium of $10 or less. The deadline to sign up is December 15, so head to HealthCare.gov and get covered.