I have a confession - I didn’t exactly ‘read’ this book in the strictest sense of the word because Becoming by Michelle Obama was the first audio book I listened to in entirety (not counting Douglas Adams original BBC productions of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy). I’ve always been too fidgety to listen to anything sitting still which is why audio books have never cut it for me but I stumbled upon the this audiobook online quite by chance and it was a..
Surprisingly the autobiography narrated warmly by Michelle herself is highly readable (listenable?) and has been fueling my runs since the past 2 weeks. The book is divided into three parts. Becoming Me, Becoming Us and Becoming More. The first two parts were my favorite.
Former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Robinson Obama writes a deeply personal, human, and intimate memoir, charting the course of her life, starting from humble but determined beginnings in the South side of Chicago. She writes about her childhood which was as much shaped by the values drilled in by her working class parents as much as it was by her neighborhood and surroundings. She writes about her grandparents and aunts who carried a frustrated bitterness in their hearts having lived a lifetime being denied opportunities to advance in life just because of racial discrimination. She writes about her father who went to work every morning with determination despite battling Multiple Sclerosis. With great detail, she writes about her experiences and what they meant to her. It was really interesting reading about the Southside of Chicago of the 70s through her observations.
Michelle had the singular privilege of having parents who were deeply invested in the education of their children despite financial burdens. Both she and her brother excelled at their studies and graduated from Princeton.
She writes about pursuing paths that would impress people and her family instead of following her own desires. She went to Harvard law because that was the impressive thing to do. She worked in a prestigious law firm because it was the appropriate thing to do after an expensive law degree. But it brought her no joy. This led to a sense of emptiness that would haunt for years later before influencing her subsequent career switch to public sector and social impact.
In Becoming Us and More, Michelle talks about married life. The trials and tribulations of long distance relationship, miscarriages and adversity. She talks about her role in Baracks political career from being a wary spectator on the sidelines to becoming a force in his presidential campaign. Her involvement in the campaign threw the harsh glare of media and national spotlight on her which was not always pleasant. She dedicates some portion of the chapters on how the unjustified-criticism of her voice, appearance and being tore through her esteem. Her ability to weather these storms and continue moving was nothing short of admirable.
Michelle humanizes White House by writing about her time there during Obamas presidency. At the heart of it she turns out be just like like every other woman who worries if she’s doing enough, if she is giving her daughters a normal childhood and if its all worth it at the end of the day. She worries like a mom and empathizes like a human. Her fears, insecurities and concerns paint a tapestry of human experience that is not dissimilar to ours.
Since the audio book was narrated by Michelle herself it came across as more genuine, heartfelt and intimate. This is a book I really enjoyed listening to - good time spent.
PS: 2020 is ending. What is the one book you wish you had read this year? Drop in your messages. Ill try sharing them.