by Michelle Obama

Hardcover, 2018




New York : Crown, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, [2018]


"An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States. When she was a little girl, Michelle Robinson's world was the South Side of Chicago, where she and her brother, Craig, shared a bedroom in their family's upstairs apartment and played catch in the park, and where her parents, Fraser and Marian Robinson, raised her to be outspoken and unafraid. But life soon took her much further afield, from the halls of Princeton, where she learned for the first time what if felt like to be the only black woman in a room, to the glassy office tower where she worked as a high-powered corporate lawyer--and where, one summer morning, a law student named Barack Obama appeared in her office and upended all her carefully made plans. Here, for the first time, Michelle Obama describes the early years of her marriage as she struggles to balance her work and family with her husband's fast-moving political career. She takes us inside their private debate over whether he should make a run for the presidency and her subsequent role as a popular but oft-criticized figure during his campaign. Narrating with grace, good humor, and uncommon candor, she provides a vivid, behind-the-scenes account of her family's history-making launch into the global limelight as well as their life inside the White House over eight momentous years--as she comes to know her country and her country comes to know her. [This book] takes us through modest Iowa kitchens and ballrooms at Buckingham Palace, through moments of heart-stopping grief and profound resilience, bringing us deep into the soul of a singular, groundbreaking figure in history as she strives to live authentically, marshaling her personal strength and voice in service of a set of higher ideals. In telling her story with honesty and boldness, she issues a challenge to the rest of us: Who are we and who do we want to become?"--Jacket.… (more)

Media reviews

The summary of Obama’s White House initiatives relies on promotional language and well-worn anecdotes, and the book’s final pages are just a shade away from an overt advertisement for the Obama Foundation. The memoir’s “bombshell” revelations, which the media has projected as revelations
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of the female condition writ large—a discussion of Obama’s use of fertility treatment to conceive her daughters, and of a period of her marriage in which “frustrations began to rear up often and intensely”—belie how much the rest of the text withholds.
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7 more
I suspect that some of Becoming’s power lies in the ways it employs the techniques of a novel more than those of a typical political memoir—in its honesty about human nature and ambivalence, yes, but also in its colorful and idiosyncratic details ... in its willingness to let anecdotes speak
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for themselves rather than pedantically spelling out their lessons.
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Becoming is frequently funny, sometimes indignant or enraged, and when Michelle describes her father’s early death from multiple sclerosis it turns rawly emotional.
But despite how close we get to her voice here, it’s never quite close enough. She lets us into all kinds of memories, including tender recollections, romantic dates, and triumphant moments on the campaign trail. But for all her candidness, there is still a veil of privacy around the inner
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workings of this reluctant public figure. She draws the reader in, but pauses at arm’s length. Maybe this is all we can expect, in text, from this woman with so much presence. As she says herself, she’s more of a hugger.
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Even if Becoming is not always interesting, it is much more interesting than it needed to be to qualify as a successful first lady memoir. And as an example of how to walk the tightrope — how to seem charming but not like an intellectual lightweight; how to get things done without seeming
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threatening; how to do all of the impossible things we demand of women in general, of first ladies in particular, and of the first black first lady as an absolute — Becoming is a straight-up master class.
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Becoming is still a political memoir; it functions partly to solidify Barack Obama’s legacy as a complex and multilayered milestone for the country. The book makes the case for the Obama family as definitively American, for Michelle Obama’s concerns as worries that derive from the universal
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anxieties of marriage and motherhood. Still, Becoming is satisfying for the quiet moments in which Mrs. Obama, the woman who supported a black man named Barack all the way to the presidency, gets to let down her hair and breathe as Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, girl of the South Side.
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Her honesty translates. More importantly, her intention translates, to remind her country of what’s being lost — what she witnessed during the Obama years, what guided their presidency: “a sense of progress, the comfort of compassion…. A glimmer of the world as it could be.” May decency
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reign again.
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But mirroring the constraints of what she could do and say as first lady, she is also restrained in her writing here. She doesn't question the world of the White House here the way she thoughtfully appraises 1970s South Side Chicago. And while Obama is clearly passionate about her top causes as
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first lady, such as gardening with kids and meeting veterans' families, ultimately this is a section where Obama seems most like any politician, lapsing far more often into the policy speak that peppered the early chapters. Which is to say: This is where her protective walls seem to go up. The question is how miffed to get about this. On the one hand, Michelle Obama, like any former first lady, doesn't owe us any juicy details about her life. On the other hand, she is writing a memoir here, complete with a nationwide book tour.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member TooBusyReading
People who hate Michelle Obama for being Michelle Obama will hate this book. Oftentimes, even if they have not bothered to read it. For those of us who admire her, it's a wonderful book. I do admire the first lady, but I didn't know much about her other than what mainstream media told me. This look
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into her life, her childhood, her family was fascinating to me. She told me of her faults as well as her good points. She knows she was lucky as well as hard-working to become the woman she did. She also gives us looks at her and President Obama's life together, in and out of the Whitehouse. Considering all the inexcusable insults that have been hurled at this first family, she is remarkably gracious. Although she will never forgive trump, and I don't blame her, she did not expose much of the hate thrown at her. This book makes me sad for our country right now, but hope that it can become great again. In addition to being a beautifully written book, the reading by the author was lovely.
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LibraryThing member Cariola
Michelle Obama's memoir was exactly what I expected it to be: honest, thoughtful, endearing, uplifting, and optimistic. Exactly what I needed, considering the current political environment. She walks us through her childhood in Chicago with stories about her brother, parents, grandparents, aunts
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and uncles--the extended family that helped to raise her. Their love and support helped to give her the confidence to apply to several Ivy League colleges, earn her law degree, and practice with a successful Chicago law firm where one of her tasks was to supervise a young legal intern named Barack Obama. As we've heard, it wasn't love at first sight, but Michelle was eventually won over by his enthusiasm and his drive to make the world a better place. She includes a lot of humor in her book, like the night when she turned in bed to find Barack gazing at the ceiling. When she asked what he was thinking about, he replied, "Income inequality"--not exactly the answer that she had expected. Michelle takes us through her days as the spouse of an up and coming politician, her struggles to keep the family connected, adjusting to life in the White House, and the hurt she felt after some ugly and unfair critical comments. It's hard to read this book without stopping every few pages and saying to yourself, "God, I miss the Obamas. I miss the compassion, I miss the decency."

Obviously not a book for Trump fans. But if you find yourself longing for the good old days of, say 2015, you'll enjoy this memoir.
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LibraryThing member SandyAMcPherson
I had to do some pondering about my thoughts on this book. There were many interesting glimpses into the life of ordinary folks struggling to reach a better living than their parents, so those passages drew me in. I thoroughly admire the Obama's and, as First Lady, I thought Michelle achieved some
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remarkable results in her ventures. The political aspects of running for office and coping with life in the spotlight and all the prejudices seemed kind of flat in the telling and less engaging. Reading between the lines, I can guess it was terribly discouraging and a downright ignorant circumstance.

Writing this review a couple week's later, what particularly sticks with me, was the flabbergasting revelation of the acrimony between the two American political parties, which paralyzed Congress. The political rivalry was so intense, that the good governance of the country lost out to the sentiment that "blocking the Democrat's proposals was more important than approving funding to hire more teachers and first responders in natural disasters". It is a matter of record that the Republican party goal was for Obama to be a 'one-term' president . How utterly abysmal that prioritizing some possible future ascendancy sacrificed support for the common citizenry.

I highly recommend this memoir for the insights into family life in struggling black American households and then later, for 8 years in the White House. The writing flowed beautifully and was so articulate.
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LibraryThing member Brightman
Straight on honest...
LibraryThing member Tytania
- She really didn't want it - the presidency, and its impact on her family.
- She is so, so, so devoted to her daughters.
- She loves Barack.
- Barack is a great guy, and so, so, so devoted to his daughters.

Extraordinary parenting under extraordinary circumstances.

And the other major
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takeaway is the humility. She gets it from her mother (a great character), who always brushed aside over-glowing compliments on the accomplishments of her two kids, Craig and Michelle, with: they're not special. "The South Side is full of kids like that." Michelle repeats it - thinking of her grade school classmates, "I wasn't any better than them." She was just lucky, lucky to have an advocate in her mother, who yanked her out of a bad classroom; and lucky not to get randomly shot in a drive-by, like kids in her old neighborhood need to fear today.

Quibbles? Maybe Barack comes across as a little TOO perfect here, but, see point three. She is - they are - obviously still in love. She mentions the little "fist bump" she once gave him during some nationally televised appearance, and I remember it - such an intimate little moment.

And hey, maybe he IS perfect. Sure holding up as pretty well, as a president, in hindsight, and in comparison.
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LibraryThing member cmt100
Just fascinating. The writing is clean and straightforward. The joy is to spend a couple of days with this fascinating and admirable women.
LibraryThing member Bookish59
Outstanding autobiography of Michelle's life; the early years, her supportive family, the importance of school, her determination to succeed to make her family's sacrifices count. And how it all leads up to meeting, dating, marrying Barack, campaigning for him, his winning the Presidency and
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I liked this book because of its honesty, intelligence, and respect and love for her parents, and older brother, and her humble origins. She shares her personal feelings about many experiences good and bad. She is loyal to her friends and colleagues, optimistic and hopeful, and most importantly a loving, caring daughter, wife, and mother.

Excellent; inspiring and thoughtful.
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LibraryThing member willszal
I picked up this book primarily for the sake of discussion, as a number of the girls and women around me have been reading it. Given the undertones of racism and privilege, it makes for a good conversation-starter. Otherwise, I generally avoid books written by politicians.

The scope and pace of the
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book was the first thing that I noticed. Roughly the first third of the book focuses on Obama's upbringing, and we don't get around to her time at the White House until after the midway point. This gives the book an especially personal tone.

Obama grew up as a lower-middle-class Chicagoan. This being the case, her professional path was "unswerving," to use her terminology. She went to Harvard Law, and went on a partner-track path at a law firm in Chicago. She didn't allow herself to realize she didn't enjoy this work, and never had, until her late twenties, after meeting Barack while he was an intern at her firm.

Given this conservatism, it is understandable the Obama fails to rise to occasion presented by her historic positioning, as the first black First Lady. Although racism (and occasionally sexism) are a backdrop of the text, they never become anything more than that. Despite her speaking to the misogyny and racism of Trump in the end of the book, even this provocation fails to evoke a strong stance.

Having been friends with the daughter of Jesse Jackson, the 1980's black Democratic candidate for President, and having been married by Reverend Jeremiah Wright—both figures aligned with a radical black power platform—it is unfortunate that the Obama's didn't take up their chance to fight for racial equity in the US. One might counter that they didn't have the political collateral for such a move, but neither did Barack's hallmark legislative package—the Affordable Care Act. Obama continues this legacy of striving for social acceptability over justice in her memoir. She would be the first to admit her substantial concern for the opinions of others. The Obama's made the decision to establish themselves as insiders, a place they're more than happy to disdain.

Another thread in the narrative is Obama's disdain for politics, and her emphasis on mothering. At every step of the way, she resisted Barack's ascent. I'm unsure how to interpret these stances. Although I'm understanding of her disdain for the demands of political life, and the fact that she might feel mothering is her most important vocation, maybe Obama regrets her lack of success of the Obama administration, and justifies these regrets with her alibi that she never wanted such a path in the first place.

In conclusion, the book is alright. I would attribute its extreme popularity to the combination of a Trump-induced nostalgia for more neoliberal times, and to the rise of the Me Too movement. It's worth reading at our present moment in the arc of history, but likely won't endure the test of time.
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LibraryThing member kaulsu
A wonderful look into Michelle Obama’s life. Not just the glamour years, but the ordinary years. Her family. Barrack’s family. Kenya. And etc., etc., etc. this is definitely a book to be listened to—only the author ever knows exactly where to put the emphasis. My one complaint is that she
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didn’t have the sense to give us the ending we all wished for....
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LibraryThing member amillion
I listened to the audio version of this book, and it must be the preferred format (although I want to look at the photos in the printed version) as Michelle reads it herself with so much honesty and emotion, it feels like a personal conversation with her. She makes a story of American history into
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a personal story featuring a real family of modest background. She and Barack become real people with the same struggles we all have... juggling life and work, family, friends, and purpose. The way she protected her girls and their rights to grow up privately while constrained by Secret Service is admirable. Our country was lucky to have the Obamas working so diligently for all Americans for 8 years- it was so sad to hear her reaction to much of it being undone since then. So much echoed my own emotions and distress, though hers came from a much more intense perspective. I look forward to seeing everything else that she "Becomes".
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LibraryThing member m.belljackson
BECOMING smoothly delivers a profound and moving experience.

Michelle Obama shares her life, from the love and support of her extensive family on the Southside of Chicago
through her meeting as advisor to Barack Obama, their marriage and the birth of their children and on into
the eight years with The
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President and her children in The White House.

With deep insight and honesty, she sets forward the good, the bad, the hurt, the joy, the triumphs, and the pain.

It would have been welcome if one of the dogs had been a Rescue, if
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LibraryThing member murderbydeath
I have so many disparate thoughts surrounding this book, but one very solid thought about the book itself. So, the TL;DR version is: it's excellent. If you're a hellbent for leather "Republican", stay away from it; you won't enjoy it and it will probably do terrible things for your blood pressure,
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in much the same way as any new or conflicting idea of your world view might. Rational conservatives, those with the ability to think their own thoughts and make up their own minds - and gasp - I'm one of those!, will find this woman to be the dignified, thoughtful, intelligent woman and class act that she is, even if, maybe, you may not agree with everything she advocates (though really, she doesn't advocate anything any normal human wouldn't). Liberals, it goes without saying, have favourable odds of loving the hell out of this memoir of our First Lady.

That was, for me, a pretty provocative opening statement; I generally try to maintain a somewhat neutral facade, though I'll never deny my personal truths. I just don't feel it's necessary to wave them like a flag. But - and this is relevant, so stay with me - my defences are low at the moment and I'm so damned tired of everybody's anger being channeled into tribalism. "Liberals" pointing fingers at "Conservatives" and tearing strips off the whole lot, tarring them all with the same brush, and "Conservatives" ... when they're not tearing a strip off the "Liberals" and tarring them with the same brush, they're actively letting their inner child out, gleefully being petty and sniggering as they throw mud. Bunch of damn fools, the entire dammed lot, and honestly, they all deserve one another.

As I said before, I am conservatively bent; I am not deficit inclined, nor am I inclined to embrace a lot of government in general (though there are exceptions - hello banking industry; you, you aren't to be trusted with so much as a plugged nickel). Neither am I a racist, a bigot, nor an elitist. I don't hate, nor do I deny poor people; their existence or their right to make a better life. Anyone who knows me knows all of this, yet I don't think I'm ever getting the tar out of my hair. I believe in diversity in all things, even diverse opinions. Even the ones I don't like.

Now, this is how I make all that relevant - Michelle Obama has written a book that succeeds, and is brilliant, because she does not fling mud; she does not tar anybody; she writes about her thoughts, her beliefs, her values, her opinions, without ever once throwing judgements on anyone else's. She does not build herself up by tearing down others, and here I think it's important to point out that she's not Suzy Sunshine and there aren't any unicorns flying out her backside. I found what she didn't say to be as provocative as what she does say is not; moments when she chooses her words carefully, and where, in my opinion, she manages to convey that which perhaps she feels she can't say. Though I admit, that might be wishful thinking on my part.

I've always admired President Obama; from the first he struck me as thoughtful, intelligent, and well-balanced with very little ego (or one that thrived on power, anyway), but at the beginning, Michelle was a bit of a non-entity to me. Mostly because I've never gotten into what any First Lady was doing; she's not in office, has no public mandate, and is therefore of little interest to me. But Michelle caught my attention with the organic vegetable garden - an initiative I was thrilled to watch unfold and succeed. I still paid little attention, but every time she appeared on my radar, it was because she was doing something impressive, and doing it with dignity and grace. By the time his second term ended, I was sorry to see them both go, and I was eager to read this book when it came out, to learn more about this woman who has never done anything but impress me.

A little part of my soul died when she stated for the record her complete disinterest in public office, because these are the kind of people I want running my country. NOT because of their politics - I like both of them, but their politics are not entirely mine - but because of the people they are. I don't have to agree with everything my leader does, but I do have to be able to respect him (or her) and their dedication to the process of doing what's best for the people - all the people - of the country. The Obamas set - or reset - the standard for the highest office in the nation, repairing the damage wrought by so many previous administrations. To bring this back to the book - Becoming gives readers an insight into just how deeply invested they both were - but especially Michelle, since this is her story - in making the most of the incredible opportunities they were given to make positive, lasting change for as many people as they could, while keeping their family not just in tact, but healthy, thriving and close.

A note about her narration: I'm not going to gush, because the truth is that it was apparent that she was told to read slowly and exactly off the manuscript, which is fair enough. But I sort of wish she'd have been confident enough to read it in the voice she obviously wrote it in; occasionally that voice would sneak through just enough that I just knew, had she been able to be totally herself, it would have kicked the narration up a notch into absolute perfection. But that's not a criticism - she did a phenomenal job and for anyone interested in this book who can do audiobooks, I'd highly recommend it, as I think it adds depth to hear her tell her own story.
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LibraryThing member lisapeet
This was—beyond any expectations—just lovely. Her voice comes through so clearly throughout, which is both good writing and, I suspect, great cowriting and/or editing, but whatever. It's good to hear from her again. There was a lot that was fun about it, from descriptions of what it's like
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inside the White House (she describes it as a bubble, which sounds about right—she couldn't open a window or go out on the balcony without clearance from the Secret Service) to talk about raising kids and her marriage—which, of course, she went into only as much as it suited her, but still. I'm always fascinated by portraits of other people's marriages and how they negotiate the rough stuff. And it was good to read an account of her husband's administration if only to affirm that no, it wasn't a dream. And a decent president could happen again. Sigh. Anyway, recommended for anyone, really. It was a buoying read.
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LibraryThing member g33kgrrl
This book was phenomenal. Here's the thing: I made it 90% through before I realized what she did with this book. She'll give you details about her and Barack's dates and engagement but then fill your brain with details about all the policies that are important to her. This is just another part of
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the advocacy she started as FLOTUS and in the exact same format that she *describes* in the book: keep it light, but make it real.

She also talks about being a working mother, being a list-driven, step-by-step sort of person in a chaotic sort of world, and is incredibly honest. As a person who has had a career for a while but has only had a child for two years, I felt like I was getting advice I could really use.

I straight-up love this book. It's great.
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LibraryThing member ASKelmore
Best for:
People who enjoy autobiographies that don’t feel overly edited or ghost written.

In a nutshell:
Former (sob) First Lady Michelle Obama tells her story, from early childhood through her departure from the White House.

Worth quoting:
“This may be the fundamental problem with caring a lot
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about what others think: It can put you on the established path — the my-isn’t-that-impressive path — and keep you there for a long time.”
“…because having been brought up in a family where everyone always showed up, I could be extra let down when someone didn’t show.”
“As the only African American First Lady to set foot in the White House I was ‘other’ almost by default. If there was a presumed grace assigned to my white predecessors, I knew it wasn’t likely to be the same for me.”

Why I chose it:
I mean, duh. It’s Michelle Obama. How could I not?

I love the fact that Obama doesn’t become First Lady of the U.S. until page 282 in a 426 page book. She was only First Lady for eight years, but I can see a lesser publishing house or editor wanting to really focus on those eight years. In fact, given what was kept in and what was left out, I can see that this could EASILY have been a two-book volume. Instead, it is a true auto-biography that gives us real insight into who Michelle Robinson is, and how her life became entwined with our 44th President.

Obama is a great writer. I found her stories evocative, and interesting. I could picture the apartment she grew up in, her law office, her family. And while fairly early on her future husband enters the picture, the focus is still on her and how she experienced all these adventures. He’s almost a minor character; I feel like I get more of a sense of her children than her husband. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing — he tells his story, and has told his story, many times. This is about HER and how she felt about the things she has experienced as a Black woman filling a role that no Black woman has filled before.

It was hard to read again about some of the political things — reading asshole Mitch McConnell’s offensive and frankly anti-American comments, and being reminded of how aggressively Republicans fought to harm so many people in the US by blocking any sort of progress, just pissed me off even more than my regularly daily pissed-offedness thanks to the current President. But it was fascinating to learn a bit more about how the White House works, and how their family adjusted to that life.

I found myself relating to her in some ways - she is a planner, and super organized, and had a good home life growing up. I related hard to the quote I included up top, about staying on a path because one is worried about what other’s might think. I spent most of my youth through the end of college thinking I was going to be a lawyer, and it wasn’t until the summer before I was supposed to enroll at UCLA Law that I got the courage to tell my folks I didn’t want to do that. I had to figure everything out from scratch, and it terrified me. And I did another form of that again a year ago, when I moved overseas and left my career behind. For some of us its hard to not care what other people think, and it was refreshing to see someone be so honest about that.

There were definitely quite a few things that were either edited out or just never written. There is virtually nothing in there about her time in law school, which I found odd. But there is a lot about her time in college, so perhaps the two experiences weren’t different enough to be considered compelling reading? There is also not a ton in the White House, nor a lot about the second Presidential campaign. It’s a good read, but some of it does feel a bit ‘wait, you’re not even going to mention that?’, which is what kept me from giving it the full five stars.

I started this book in January and found myself only reading it in spurts, primarily because I tend to read on the go, and this book is HUGE. It was just too heavy to cart back and forth. But I sucked it up and read the back half in two days. So it’s not a slow read, or a dense read, but it’s not a book you can stick in a small purse and bring with you on the bus.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it: Keep it AND Pass to a Friend
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LibraryThing member banjo123
I had too high of expectations starting this book, with so many finding it a 5 star read. Don't get me wrong, I liked the book, but it was more of a 3.5 to 4 star read for me; very good for a famous person autobiography, but not a book that stood out for me, on it's own. The writing was solid, but
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not great. I did think that Obama did a good job of keeping the book focussed, which is often a problem with books like this, as there are so many details in anyone's life, it's easy to get side tracked. Obama figured out what her main point was, and she stuck to it.

My favorite thing about the book was her descriptions of Barack, and her analysis of them as a couple. The two are so different, but with mutual respect were able to pull it off. Barack being the dreamer, the ambitious one, always running late; Michelle with a more conventional outlook, very focused on achievement and organization. It seems that they rubbed off a little on each other, so that Michelle was able to leave corporate law for public service, which was a much better fit for her; and Barack, obviously, benefited from Michelle's solidness.
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LibraryThing member librarygeek33
TMI I made it through 8 of 16 CDs. A truthful editor could have been useful here. I didn't really want to know not only which buses she took to high school, but also the different route she took after awhile. Descriptions of the leaves falling off of the trees as winter approached were a little TOO
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MUCH. She is leading a fascinating life. Too bad I just couldn't make it through to the most interesting part.
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LibraryThing member lauralkeet
I have admired Michelle Obama from the moment she entered the national spotlight, so I was eager to read her life story. In Becoming, she tells that story with grace, insight, and humor, and I absolutely loved it. I enjoyed reading about her childhood, education, and early career, and her quest to
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find meaning as a professional woman. I equally enjoyed learning more about her relationships with family & friends, and her continuous efforts to maintain those relationships and foster a healthy environment for her children, even as her husband’s political trajectory took their lives in directions few can imagine.

Obama is refreshingly candid, especially when sharing her initial feelings about her husband’s political aspirations, and the media backlash during the presidential campaign and their time in the White House. With a few notable yet extremely tactful exceptions, she refrains from negative comment on the opposing party and the current administration. She is consistently purposeful yet human; there were several times I choked up and got teary-eyed. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of the Obamas, and am confident they will continue having a positive impact on the country, and perhaps beyond.
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LibraryThing member CherylGrimm
How could I even fathom loving this woman (and her husband) more that I did? This frank, honest, insightful opening up of her life before, during, and after the White House is told in comfortable, sitting around the coffee table conversational anecdotes. The struggles of being a vocal black woman
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(or just basically being a woman) are told as she overcomes each hindrance set before her and excels with aplomb, generated through amazing parents and her own tenacity to succeed. The many, many minority-focused organizations she created, assisted, or advocated giver her a superwoman status in my realm of heroes.

The courtship of their endearing relationship and dedication to maintaining it, along with the parenting of their daughters is inspiring to the utmost level. The unending desire to help, to remedy, to fight for a broader good, from them both, is so incredible in a me-me-me society. The divulging of intimate events in their lives is more than expected and welcome in times of dishonest secrecy.

I was amazed at all that went on in the White House and how restrictive their roles were. I was also shocked that things like their food, clothing, even toilet paper were bought with their own money. Making humor out of constant attention from everyone and the ever-present secret service must have been daunting. How the couldn't even enjoy a single dinner out without disrupting an entire city.

There is just so much to this book that gives us a broader respect and admiration for this bigger than life couple. Oh how I miss them representing our country.
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LibraryThing member Iira
Oh, how this book made me again miss the time when Obamas were in the White House! This was a compelling story of a South Side girl and her journey to FLOTUS. Listening to this audiobook was a huge plus, it made the whole story more compelling and touching. I cried and I laughed. Michelle Obama is
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such a warm and beautiful person, and her voice is so soothing and warm that listening her felt like a true privilege.
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LibraryThing member DonnaMarieMerritt
Hard to believe we had such a classy, intelligent, kind, courageous first family in the White House only a few years ago. This book reminded me of all we've lost since they left. As Michelle Obama says, "Being president doesn't change who you are; it reveals who you are." I miss them. On a lighter
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note, I really enjoyed learning about her youth and her early relationship years with Barack. Well-written, informative, and a must-read.
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LibraryThing member quondame
Worth reading, Michele Obama's early life is not nearly as interesting as the woman herself, and the known results do hinder any suspense. The current moment pretty much requires a certain blandness, whether or not there is anything beyond what is said. The isolation of University of Chicago and
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the idea that Princeton was more accessible was interesting as was Michelle Obama's work there.
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LibraryThing member varwenea
I chose to read ‘Becoming’ because I wanted to pay homage to a person who have stayed sincere, strong, and regal, despite all the criticisms, mud-slinging, and name-calling. Even in this book where she had absolute authority to speak as she pleases, she maintained her composure and was elegant
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in her words. For that, applause, applause.

Becoming is divided into three sections:
‘Becoming Me’ – Her youth and her upbringing, her parents striving to give her and her brother the education that would propel them out of the Southside Chicago neighborhood
‘Becoming Us’ – The story of Barack and Michelle, her senior at their law firm to his junior, his eventual entry into politics including state senator, ending at his winning the presidential election. This is the biggest portion as she transitions through multiple cycles, when she finds herself “… becoming a different kind of Mrs. – a Mrs. Defined by the Mr.”
‘Becoming More’ – Her role as the First Lady, or FLoTUS, till their departure from the White House.

Throughout the book, I found effecting insights, especially in the section ‘Becoming More’. I’ve included some in the quotes section below. It’s silly to state the obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. This book won’t turn anyone into her fan, if one had been amongst the mud-slingers. It will affirm positive opinions you may have. She reinforces her stance to NOT run for office in the epilogue of the book. After reading this, everyone will understand why.

I listened to the audiobook for 3/4 of it so I can hear her voice and finished the rest via the physical book to see the photos. I’ll probably still listen to the audiobook for the last portion so I can hear her joy in the triumph of her initiatives and her angst in learning of the pussy-grabbing Cheeto video. Sigh.

Some quotes:
It’s not easy to be outside.
“…If anyone in our family wanted to step outside onto the Truman Balcony – the lovely arcing terrace that overlooked the South Lawn, and the only semiprivate outdoor space we had at the White House – we needed to first alert the Secret Service so that they could shut down the section of E Street that was in view of the balcony, clearing out the flocks of tourists who gathered outside the gates there at all hours of the day and night. There were many times when I thought I’d go out to sit on the balcony, but then reconsidered, realizing the hassle I would cause, the vacations I’d be interrupting, all because I thought it would be nice to have a cup of tea outdoors.”

On Leadership:
“Everything was big and everything was relevant. I read a set of news clips sent by my staff each morning and knew that Barack would be obliged to absorb and respond to every new development. He’d be blamed for things he couldn’t control, pushed to solve frightening problems in faraway nations, expected to plug a hole at the bottom of the ocean. His job, it seemed, was to take the chaos and metabolize it somehow into calm leadership – every day of the week, every week of the year.”

On then 8-year old Sasha:
“…Walking around her classroom at Sidwell’s parents’ night that fall, I’d come across a short ‘What I Did on My Summer Vacation’ essay she’d authored, hanging alongside those of her classmates on one of the walls. ‘I went to Rome and I met the Pope,’ Sasha had written. ‘He was missing part of his thumb.’
I could not tell you what Pope Benedict XVI’s thumb looks like, whether some part of it isn’t there. But we’d taken an observant, matter-of-fact eight-year-old to Rome, Moscow, and Accra, and this is what she’d brought back. Her view of history was, at that point, waist-high.”

On teenager Malia:
“In general, I understood that it was better for all of us not to acknowledge the hate or dwell on the risk, even when others felt compelled to bring it up. Malia would eventually join the high school tennis team at Sidwell, which practiced on the school courts on Wisconsin Avenue. She was there one day when a woman, the mother of another student, approached her, gesturing at the busy road running past the courts. ‘Aren’t you afraid out here?’ she asked.
My daughter, as she grew, was learning to use her voice, discovering her own ways to reinforce the boundaries she needed. ‘If you’re asking me whether I ponder my death every day,’ she said to the woman, as politely as she could, ‘the answer is no.’”

On the underlying efforts and that helping hand – I know this too well:
“There had been so many times in my life when I’d found myself the only woman of color – or even the only woman, period – sitting at a conference table or attending a board meeting or mingling at one VIP gathering or another. If I was the first at some of these things, I wanted to make sure that in the end I wasn’t the only – that others were coming up behind me… The important parts of my story, I was realizing, lay less in the surface value of my accomplishments and more in what undergirded them – the many small ways I’d been buttressed over the years, and the people who’d helped build my confidence over time. I remembered them all, every person who’d ever waved me forward, doing his or her best to inoculate me against the slights and indignities I was certain to encounter in the places I was headed – all those environments built primarily for and by people who were neither black nor female.”

On Nelson Mandela:
“Mandela had gone to jail for his principles. He’d missed seeing his kids grow up, and then he’d missed seeing many of his grandkids grow up, too. All this without bitterness. All this still believing that the better nature of his country would at some point prevail. He’d worked and waited, tolerant and undiscouraged, to see it happen.”

On Gun Violence (in Chicago) – disheartening:
“At one point, one of the social workers interjected, saying to the group, ‘Eighty degrees and sunny! Everyone in the circle began nodding, ruefully. I wasn’t sure why. ‘Tell Mrs. Obama,’ she said, ‘What goes through your mind when you wake up in the morning and hear the weather forecast is eighty and sunny?’
She clearly knew the answer, but wanted me to hear it.
A day like that, the Harper students all agreed, was no good. When the weather was nice, the gangs got more active and the shooting got worse.”

On Racial Injustice:
“…For more than six years now, Barack and I had lived with an awareness that we ourselves were a provocation. As minorities across the country were gradually beginning to take on more significant roles in politics, business, and entertainment, our family had become the most prominent example. Our presence in the White House had been celebrated by millions of Americans, but it also contributed to a reactionary sense of fear and resentment among others. The hatred was old and deep and as dangerous as ever.”

On Misogyny and the expression ‘Death by a Thousand Cuts’:
“…I’d been mocked and threatened many times now, cut down for being black, female, and vocal. I’d felt the derision directed at my body, the literal space I occupied in the world. I’d watched Donald Trump stalk Hillary Clinton during a debate, following her around as she spoke, standing too close, trying to diminish her presence with his. I can hurt you and get away with it. Women endure entire lifetimes of these indignities – in the form of catcalls, groping, assault, oppression. These things injure us. They sap our strength. Some of the cuts are so small they’re barely visible. Others are huge and gaping, leaving scars that never heal. Either way, they accumulate. We carry them everywhere, to and from school and work, at home while raising our children, at our places of worship, anytime we try to advance.”

On ‘Becoming’:
“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end. I became a mother, but I still have a lot to learn from and give to my children. I became a wife, but I continue to adapt to and be humbled by what it means to truly love and make a life with another person. I have become, by certain measures, a person of power, and yet there are moments still when I feel insure or unheard.
It's all a process, steps along a path. Becoming requires equal parts patience and rigor. Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there’s more growing to be done.”
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LibraryThing member bexaplex
Becoming is a touching memoir of Michelle Obama's life, from growing up on the South Side of Chicago to meeting Barack to becoming First Lady. Her humor and pragmatism, and insistence on maintaining the boundary between family life and politics, shine through the pages. I had the book open on my
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table and would dip into a few pages every time I sat down to eat. It was a pleasure to read; good digestive aid :)
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LibraryThing member MacDad
To be honest, I've never been a fan of memoirs. While I have read a few by celebrities that I've enjoyed because of their humor, too many of the ones by public figures are either preachy self-justifications or selective journeys through careers in which achievements are exaggerated and blame for
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failures shifted to others. In them, introspection and honesty are sacrificed in order to present a polished face to history. I know it's human — after all, we all want to be the hero or heroine In our stories — but that doesn't mean I want to waste my time reading them when I can learn so much about the person from the accounts of others.

And this is at the heart of why I enjoyed Michelle Obama's memoir as much as I did. In It she more than just a summary of her life from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as the First Lady of the United States, but an introspective assessment of what it meant to her. It helps that she writes in a clear and eloquent style with touches of inspiration scattered throughout, as it does that she has no detailed political agenda to promote or a governing legacy to defend. Yet even with these factors taken into consideration there is a real power in her writing, thanks to her candidness about the challenges she faced and how she dealt with them. She conveys a great sense of sincerity in its pages, which comes through best in her self-assessments and the love she feels for her husband and her daughters. While the selectiveness is there (she leaves out certain subjects, such as her time in law school), it's subtle enough to be missed in the flow of her narrative. More importantly, though, is that it feels sincere in a way few memoirists, even candid ones, can achieve successfully. It serves as a powerful reminder of the classiness she exhibited as the First Lady and the good fortune we all enjoyed by having her as a part of American public life.
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