October 14, 2019 | New York, NY
As the weather gets cooler and the leaves start changing color, one of my favorite things to do is curl up with books written by the Obamas. It brings me back to a more wholesome time just 4 years ago, when President Obama addressing us all in his State of the Union meant shutting off my phone, ordering tacos, and staring dreamily at the TV.
How wonderful it is, I’d think, that we have a president who makes dad jokes and plays basketball and does mic drops and rocks the hell out of a button down shirt. How inspiring Michelle Obama is with her toned arms and perfectly-timed bon mots. They’re like us, but better.
That hasn’t changed. While the nation’s currently every dictionary’s living definition of a Dumpster Fire, Barack Obama’s living his best life. Even more, he’s been writing his newest memoir – set to drop in 2020 – and we finally know the title: The Art of (Gracefully) Not Giving a F*ck.
President Obama addressing us in his State of the Union meant shutting off my phone, ordering tacos, and staring dreamily at the TV. I never expected a governing body to bring me such joy, but here we were.
“This book is a, uh, chance for me to reflect on the past 3 years and share my learnings with the American people,” the former president said in a (very) brief phone call.
In other words, it’s a masterpiece. The Art of (Gracefully) Not Giving a F*ck takes us through the process of adjusting to post-presidential life with vivid imagery and stirring prose. Lessons he learned along the way are distilled into singular chapters, with some standouts:
- “Just Be Barack”
“I’m not somebody who gets real worked up about things,” Obama once wrote in The Audacity of Hope. He says this again here in his introductory chapter. What does ‘Being Barack’ mean? Be Cool-Tempered, he writes. Be an International. Travel to French Polynesia, Kensington Palace, the British Virgin Islands, and Twitter for reminders of who you are: Someone the World Reveres. Having a killer smile along the way will only help. So will a photographer who captures your essence.
- “Oh, Word?”
Who but Barack Obama to remind us of the power of the written word in these trying times? This chapter highlights his dedication to posting lengthy, eloquent messages on social media. Never say the thing that’s bothering you most, he writes. Let the world read between the lines. The same goes for moving speeches and eulogies.
- “Hollywood, Baby”
Here’s where it gets real. In a chapter that reads like a confessional, Obama tells us he’s finally tapped into who he really is: A Star. It starts with an appearance on David Letterman and ends with a recent Netflix deal to produce a set of films & series under his and Michelle’s production company called (what else?) Higher Ground Productions. “When Richard Branson and I went kitesurfing a few years ago, he told me, ‘Barack, you’re a star. Don’t you forget that,” Obama said, “I wrote that down on a Post-It and stuck it on my bathroom mirror.”
“When Richard Branson and I went kitesurfing a few years ago, he told me, ‘Barack, you’re a star. Don’t you forget that.’ I wrote that down on a Post-It and stuck it on my bathroom mirror.”
For Obama superfans, the book comes with perks. In the middle insert, readers will find letters both Obamas wrote in anger and put away in a drawer instead of sending to the intended recipients.
Footnotes from Michelle are also scattered throughout the book, guiding readers on mastering a well-timed eye roll, choosing clothes that’ll speak for you when you’re speechless, and letting us in on their method for coining iconic phrases (‘When they go low, we go high” was conceived during a dance-off between her and Barack).
“We wrote these portions of the book together, in restaurants, challenging and bringing out the best in each other,” Barack said, “While intimidating everyone around us.”
Therein lies the takeaway of The Art of (Gracefully) Not Giving a F*ck: You can choose to not give a f*ck and still care. “Don’t you see what we’ve been trying to tell you all these years?” the Obamas seem to say, “We’re just like you, only a little better.”
And here we are.