A Letter from Michelle Obama to Her Readers on Goodreads

Posted by Marie on February 15, 2019
Former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama is a powerful advocate for women and girls around the world, and now she's a bestselling author with her memoir, Becoming. Here she shares an exclusive letter to Goodreads members about the journey of writing her memoir and the power and influence of book clubs.

Because Michelle Obama loves hearing from readers and book groups, she is also inviting Goodreads members to ask a question or share their thoughts on Becoming. Don't miss out on your chance to connect!

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When I began the process of writing my memoir, my goal was to write something meaningful not just for me, but for others as well. I didn't start out with a chapter-by-chapter plan or a laundry list of historical moments to describe.

I hoped that if I could open myself up and feel my way through the process—starting with my earliest dreams and carrying on through every twist and turn of the sometimes-rocky road I traveled to today—then I might be able to come up with something that made me proud.

That process, though, was complicated by the fact that the previous decade of my life was something of a blur. From the moment my husband decided to run for president until our family left the White House, my life moved with a speed and urgency I'd never experienced before—State Dinners and State of the Union speeches, jumping in and out of motorcades, and jumping rope with kids on the lawn of the White House.

Friday would come and I'd forget what had happened on Tuesday. And during those years, I was almost never alone long enough to collect my thoughts. What kept me afloat was my support structure—my girlfriends from college and from Chicago; the women I met in Washington; my mother, my brother, and, of course, my husband.

And so, as I began the process of writing my memoir, I turned back to them—the people who could remind me of who I was and who I'd become, the people who centered me and pushed me out of my comfort zone. They not only helped me sort through the past decade, but they helped me recall memories from long ago.

And more importantly, they helped me see my experiences through a new perspective, connecting the dots between where I'd been and where I'm going. Without their support, my memoir just simply wouldn't have been possible.

I know that those kinds of connections are made every day, whether or not you're writing a book. Each of you has that best friend you call when you've had a bad day, or the mom or sister who's known you since you were a baby. And I know that whether you meet once a month like clockwork or gather sporadically because of the craziness of your lives, so many of you find comfort and meaning in sorting through life in book clubs.

Book clubs are a way we fill our spirits and stimulate our minds. I'm so thrilled that so many of you have chosen to read and discuss Becoming with those closest to you. Hearing about the ways you've seen your stories in mine has been a real joy for me—a fulfillment of my original goal in writing this book.

And that's why, in the coming months, I'd like to engage with you all more fully. I'm hoping to hear more about what you and your book clubs have been discussing. What issues did you focus on? What did you wish I'd written more about? And what does becoming mean for you—and how has that changed at different points in your lives?

I hope you'll ask me a question or share some of your insights with me here on Goodreads or on social media using #IAmBecoming.

It's one way I hope to keep opening myself up to my own story—and to yours as well. Because as I see it, we've always got more growing to do. I'm looking forward to doing some of that growing together.

Michelle Obama

Check out the questions that Michelle Obama has answered so far!


Looking to join an online book club? Connect with other passionate readers and fans of Becoming in one of these Goodreads book groups below:

  • Coffee & Books Group
  • Mocha Girls Read
  • A Seat at the Table Book Club
  • The Perks of Being a Book Addict
  • Traveling Friends
  • ____

    Comments Showing 1-50 of 292 (292 new)

    message 1: by Kristie (new)

    Kristie I’m reading this book right now and loving it. I’m enjoying reading your thoughts on why you did certain things the way you did when you were younger. I come from a somewhat different background, but it was similar in some ways and I can relate to the way you faced the world as a young girl.

    I’m also enjoying the insights into your relationship with Barack and the differences in your personalities. Everything just seems so genuine.

    Thank you for putting your life out there for all to see. I look forward to reading the rest of your wonderful memoir.

    message 2: by Lisa, Goodreads employee (new)

    Lisa Jablonsky I can not wait to read this!

    message 3: by Katie (new)

    Katie Boyer I loved this book - and I got to discuss with our feminist book club at work!

    message 4: by Miranda (new)

    Miranda Reads This is so cool - I'm so excited that Michelle Obama is part of the GR community!

    message 5: by Bryan (new)

    Bryan Baecker I loved your book Michelle and have bought several copies for others to share your wonderful story. My favorite sharing your story, story was just before Christmas. I had just switched over to the audiobook, having heard how much better it was than the book because you narrate it (I concur by the way). I was in line at the grocery and a women in front of me was discussing your book with the cashier who said she intended to buy a copy next month when she could fit it in her budget. She was so happy when I handed her my copy from my bag that she started crying -- so did the other woman, and then so did I! The other people in line were getting all emotional! You would have loved it; it was great. Anyway, I hope you and Barack are well. I know I speak for millions when I say that we desperately miss your dignity, class, and grace in the White House!

    message 6: by Bree (new)

    Bree Wash Im almost finished. Thank you for your bravery in telling your story. The sacrafices you and your familt made were tremendous. I wish i was privy to you and Barak’s personal conversations more. What i did read sounded short and distinct. You are a “first” in many categories. Congratulations to you!!

    message 7: by Helen (new)

    Helen O'Toole Dear Michelle ( if I may)
    Thank you for your gracious and intelligent presence whilst in the White House and now. You are such a powerful example to young women everywhere of how to stand up for what is right and especially your dignity and grace when you and your husband are attacked by the present White House occupant.

    Stay strong and well

    message 8: by jamez (new)

    jamez I can’t wait to read it ;)

    Margaret Foster One of the best books I have read in along time.

    message 10: by Ann (new)

    Ann Jones I really enjoyed reading this. I am not a huge fan of autobiography, generally preferring fiction, but Michelle has a fascinating and insightful story to tell.

    Even though I am British, I miss the Obamas every day.

    Sandra Montgomery I too am looking forward to reading your book Michelle, i admire you and wish only good things for you and your family.

    message 12: by Darlene (new)

    Darlene Foster I am reading the book right now and loving it. So much so that I've been reading parts of it to my husband. We both love the genuine humour. Your love and admiration for your parents and family is evident. Thanks for writing this wonderful book.

    message 13: by Cristi (new)

    Cristi Cruz I received my copy before Christmas and started reading it at once. Unfortunately, I had to postpone the reading but I am into it again. And I love it! Thank you for sharing your experience, Michelle.
    (The book is translated into Spanish but I felt I needed to read it in English in order to be "close" to your voice)
    We miss the Obamas, on this side of the Atlantic!

    message 14: by Mari (new)

    Mari I also loved the book. I gained so much more understanding of the difficulties of being a family "in office." Things like how to difficult it was to have a date night or having to sneak outside.. I also loved the consideration you showed for the people who worked so hard to help you do the things you needed to do in the White House. I just loved lots of things about it.

    message 15: by Wassie (new)

    Wassie hi Michele
    i cant wait to read your memoir as long as you and Barak were frank humans and pro human being.i wish you could return to the white house for better peace of the world.
    Though i am in Africa , i am eager to read you memoir.
    i read and enjoyed many Obama's written materials.and i am looking to enjoy yours too.
    i wish a happy life to the Obama family.

    message 16: by DR (new)

    DR I am halfway through reading 'Becoming', & had just been wishing there was some way of contacting you when the Goodreads email arrived. It is so generous of you to have shared your story, (& better than someone else writing their version of it!) I already knew how much I liked your family, but now I really like your parents as well : their story so deserved to be told. Having already read your husband's books, & your sister-in-law's book, & articles about you, I almost wasn't going to read this - what more was there to know? Well....lots, actually! Just as I hope there is lots more to come - you are far too young to retire from public life : the world needs you both! The next Secretary-General of the United Nations, maybe....? This book is so well-written, it is a pleasure to read - & I've been reading it to my husband, & writing about it to my mother. (As a piano teacher, I especially enjoyed your story about (not) finding Middle C....) We really appreciate that you gave up so much for other people : heartfelt thanks, & may God Bless you both!

    message 17: by Chi (new)

    Chi A truly great book. If I have to focus on just one thing I enjoyed, it would probably be the effort that you made to show us that you are human too. You went out of your way to paint a picture of your everyday struggles, whether it was with school, or coming from a middle class family and, my personal favorite, your relationship with Barack.

    In this age of social media, filters and daily highlights, you veered away from 'perfection' and focused on lifes simple pleasures and being grateful for what you have and where you are in life, and making that work.

    Thank you

    message 18: by Deena (new)

    Deena Scintilla Reading your book was like having a good friend seated across from me sharing her life over a cup of coffee. I loved it and realized what an honor it was to have them as our First Family for eight very short years.

    message 19: by Debra (new)

    Debra I just started the book and am up to where you are about to become a mentor. :) I LOVE THIS BOOK! My background is very different, but even so, I find similarities... I really love your insights and the way you are able to express your thoughts. It has truly given me a new perspective on a lot of things. So much so that I called my sister yesterday to tell her I think she's also going to love the book! Thank you and I look forward to reading the rest. I'm a huge fan...

    message 20: by Liz (new)

    Liz Sharlitt chevalier Bonjour Michele, I’m an American from Washington DC. Now living for 34 years in France. I arrived in Washington in 1960 when I was 20 and Kennedy was President. I left in 1985 to live in France. This Christmas, my husband bought your book in French for him and English for me. As we read and discuss each chapter in « Belonging »I am reminded that your life has been remarkable and courageous. Your capacity to make each phase meaningful and to read about your eight years in the W.H. is especially interesting to me because I lived for 25 years in a different Washington then today’s. We celebrated the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam marches, the feminist causes and participated in women’s book groups and women’s forums and awareness groups. All were very important to my generation.
    It was a very special moment in history when you and Barack arrived in Washington, one that you describe so well in your memoir. Thank you for sharing this intimate portrait of you and your family with us.

    message 21: by Mary-kay (new)

    Mary-kay I won't waste my money on this book. Michelle Obama is no hero and she has done little worth reading about. It astounds me how little you need to accomplish to become famous, like marrying a future president.

    message 22: by Linda (new)

    Linda Mary-kay wrote: "I won't waste my money on this book. Michelle Obama is no hero and she has done little worth reading about. It astounds me how little you need to accomplish to become famous, like marrying a future..."

    I am sorry that you feel that way. Michelle Obama has led an amazing life and she talks frankly about her view of her world and all the changes she went through throughout her life so far. Even if she didn't become the First Lady, she has a story to tell and we can all learn something from it.

    message 23: by DR (new)

    DR Mary-kay wrote: "I won't waste my money on this book. Michelle Obama is no hero and she has done little worth reading about. It astounds me how little you need to accomplish to become famous, like marrying a future..."

    So read it from the Library, then....... Or not. But don't judge another without even bothering to inform yourself of the facts : it reflects on you, not on them!

    message 24: by DJ (new)

    DJ I bought it but haven't read it yet. I usually don't read books by anyone involved in politics past or present, but I love her character and humor when she goes out on interviews. I am hoping the book will be great!

    message 25: by Lyndi (new)

    Lyndi Brown Becoming by Michelle Obama
    Thank you Michelle!
    I couldn't put your book down! I was struck by your Effort/Result and Am I good Enough / yes I am mantras. Our patriarchal culture puts us in this position. I have it too. You've bared your soul to describe your struggles, victories and anxieties. We love you because we see our commonality with you and other women. I miss you in the White House, oh, how I miss you!

    message 26: by Jane (last edited Feb 19, 2019 11:02PM) (new)

    Jane I've just finished reading "Becoming" and have already shared with my study class that it's a great book. I particularly liked the emphasis on `Effort/Result' which struck me very strongly. And not necessarily "Effort/Reward" as pointed out later in the book. Life is often not fair, and you just have to get on with it.

    Michelle, I also thought your insights into balancing motherhood and work were so strong and valuable. You learned quickly that working part time isn't efficient. It took me over a decade to work this out for myself, but I still didn't take the courageous and effective action that you did, in my case carrying on with part-time until I retired.

    Your mother has been incredible throughout your life and I love it that you constantly acknowledge this. I closed the book thinking, well, at 65, I know I will never be famous or achieve high in any field. But it's clear that being the best mother you can try to be is worthwhile in its own right, and can help the next generation.

    I wish you and Barack all the best for the future. It seems to us Brits that the White House has rubbed out the entire 8 years you were there, but in the US, maybe the legacy persists and will revive.

    message 27: by Eve (new)

    Eve Linda wrote: "Mary-kay wrote: "I won't waste my money on this book. Michelle Obama is no hero and she has done little worth reading about. It astounds me how little you need to accomplish to become famous, like ..."

    What a nasty thing to say, particularly if a person hasn't even read the book!

    message 28: by Janet (new)

    Janet Wood I am not a reader of celebrity books but young man in our bookshop told me that Becoming was a really good read. So now I have read David Attenborough’s book and yours.
    No regrets at all. I’ve been recommending it to everyone. I liked you before and now I love and admire you. It must have been so difficult trying to maintain a normal life for your daughters in the White House. I love the part where you escape and I love that you feel such affection for our Queen.
    I hope that life is easier for you all now despite ‘you know who’. Thank you.

    message 29: by Kay (new)

    Kay Sarver I don't know how Mary Kay can judge a book she hasn't read. It was a very good book and very well written. The Obama's were the classiest first family in the white house in my life time, and I am pretty old!

    message 30: by Bernice (new)

    Bernice Lands I listened to your book instead of reading it,, I would recommend that,especially if you’re overwhelmed by the number of pages. Enjoyed it immensely,although I was skeptical that I would.

    message 31: by Patrick (new)

    Patrick Mckennedy My favorite stories she tells are the stories of South Side Chicago when she was young and transitioning to the magnet school.

    message 32: by Ismini (new)

    Ismini Papacosta Sincere congratulations all the way from Cyprus. I am reading your book as I am writing this comment. I cannot put it down. I am a lawyer too- full working mother of two, however that does not prevent me from finding the time to spare some time to read and read and stay awake at nights to continue reading your memoir. people in Cyprus have been really fond of both your husband and his presidency as well as yourself. In fact your book was sold out here from the moment it was published. I got my own copy from the internet!
    Having read most of your book I will confess that I recently bought a ticket to see you live in London this coming April. You are such a lively person and a source of inspiration for every single woman in this world. I particularly like the flow of Becoming. How open and sincere you are and without any reservation you have permitted each one of us to enter your private space. The more I read your memoir the more it comes into my mind a Greek say that finds full applicability in your case: " Behind a successful man there is always a successful woman".
    People like you are born with a destiny. To make this world a better place and inspire and support not only those in need but everyone.
    I am really looking forward to meeting you in London in April.
    I wish you good luck and am sure I shall revert with more comments once I finish off all the book.

    message 33: by Peggy (new)

    Peggy Stoots Dear Mrs. Obama, I admire and respect you enormously! I have read about 150 pages of Becoming and my big question at this point is: With your background, how did you learn to dress so stylishly, and yet so uniquely?
    Thank you for sharing your story.
    Peggy Stoots

    message 34: by Phyllis (new)

    Phyllis Ershowsky I am right in the middle of your book and consciously slowing down so I do not finish it too soon - enjoying it immensely and learning a lot at the same time. Even though I am reading the print version, I can hear your "voice," and your story is both relatable and inspiring. Thank you for sharing your story with the world - your words will be meaningful to young women trying to find their way as well as to your peers who can relate to your life experiences. And like many others who have commented here, my family misses you both more than words can say.

    message 35: by DON (new)

    DON Thank you Michelle for your book and this your letter to bookclubs. I have not read your book "Becoming" yet but I assure you I will very soon. I love the title. We are all changing and becoming someone new as we pass through the adventure of life each and every day. I have followed your adventures with President Barack Obama from the beginning of your public life with admiration for both of you. I am 82 years old and slowing down a bit so I started my own book club a few weeks ago called Tamerlane Coffeecup Book Club (http://tamerlane.coffeecup.com/index....)
    which has been focused on my interest of science, film and the arts. I will be posting a link to this letter. Congratulations on your successful debut as a writer.

    message 36: by Amrei (new)

    Amrei Dear Michelle, I have bought a copy for each of my daughters (15 and 23) and myself and when we all are finished we intend to spend an evening together discussing it. I am very much looking forward to that and also have to admit, that they have finished reading while I am a little more slow.
    You are an amazing role model for women all over the World and even though we live in Denmark, we’d love to have you back in the White House. World needs you, really.
    I feel incredibly honoured for this opportunity to thank you for everything including this book showing my daughters and every woman in the World the value of true and honest relationships - personal, official or simply human.
    Thank you so very much!

    message 37: by Eve (new)

    Eve I can't wait to read your book, particularly after a recommendation from my critique group, and because I just finished Barack's, Dreams from my Father, which was very insightful and inspirational. Needless to say, I miss you both in the White House more than you can imagine for many, many reasons! I look forward to getting acquainted more through your book. Blessings to you and your family...

    message 38: by Nancy (new)

    Nancy I read the book and loved it. I am one of the millions who really miss you and President Obama. My month for our book club is October and I have already presented your book to be read. I'm sure our ladies won't wait until then. You are a true inspiration.

    message 39: by Jeannie (new)

    Jeannie Mary-kay wrote: "I won't waste my money on this book. Michelle Obama is no hero and she has done little worth reading about. It astounds me how little you need to accomplish to become famous, like marrying a future..."

    It astounds me, Mary Kay, how ignorant your remarks is especially since you admit that you won’t read the book. I am half way through and enjoying it immensely. Michele Obama is so inspiring and at the age of 66 makes me want to go back and do things in a different, better way.

    message 40: by Loralee (new)

    Loralee Thank you, Michelle! I loved your book, BECOMING. Your story is inspirational, grounding and relevant to women of all ages as we ask
    "Am I Enough?" You are a shining star of truth, caring and compassion during these difficult times. I hope your writing career will continue. Blessings to you and your family.

    message 41: by Shone (new)

    Shone Becoming was my first read of 2019, what a way to start my reading year. Thank you Michelle .

    message 42: by Maribeth (new)

    Maribeth Balda-westlund I had a student teacher who found out that she didn't pass her teaching certification test and she was truly devastated. Part of my pick up your chin because failure is part of learning talk included the fact that everyone has set backs and even Michelle Obama needed a second try to pass the bar exam. Thanks for making her smile and realize that education never ends. It is our preparation, mindset and grit that get us to achieve. You made a huge difference for her. I bought her Becoming so she could stay motivated.

    message 43: by Magdalena (new)

    Magdalena Thank you so much for an amazing look into your life. I am a teenaged girl in a very conservative state. I loved the consideration you showed for the people who worked so hard to help you do the things you needed to do in the White House. I also loved hearing your story and how you became a very influential woman. You are one of my role models. I really admire your grace and dignity. You are a shining star of truth, caring, and compassion during these difficult times. I am one of the millions who really miss you and President Obama. People like you are born with a destiny. To make this world a better place and inspire and support not only those in need but everyone. We need more strong leadership. I know you will continue to help the world. We need more strong women in today's world, and I hope someday I can become one.

    message 44: by Jane (new)

    Jane Biehl Michelle Obama - Becoming is just a fantastic book! I have always had the utmost respect for both you and President Obama. I couldn't put this down! Your style was so easy to read and both of you are incredible people who are leaders, classy and role models for all of us! Thank you for taking the time to share this story and showing us what your lives were really all about - both the good and bad. I am excited to see what the next chapter of your lives including Sasha and Malia is going to be! Thank you for being so special!

    message 45: by Pauline (new)

    Pauline I have finished reading your book and I loved every page. Your book is so relatable and filled with lots of life lessons. I have always been a huge fan of you and your husband but after reading this book, I cannot wait to meet you face to face someday.Thank you for writing this amazing book, you are indeed a Trailblazer.

    message 46: by Jeanette (new)

    Jeanette Slupsky This is the clearest, most sensible and uplifting book touching on women’s rights that I have ever read. Not strident but gentle, it pays homage, by her example, that women can succeed in many different endeavours in life, in a modest but convincing way. A book easy and fun to read.

    message 47: by Classy (new)

    Classy Hello Mrs. Obama. I am the Mocha Girls Read Author Coordinator and Facebook Chapter Organizer. We have been having a lively discussion every week.

    message 48: by nitya (new)

    nitya Reading this and really enjoying it! You’ll always be my FLOTUS. :)

    message 49: by Robert (new)

    Robert Limb Thank you for taking the time to write this book. I followed avidly your reading from the book on the BBC. God bless you.

    message 50: by Margaret (new)

    Margaret Tuomi I am just starting part III of the book. I read a lot and I expected this to be a similar "ghost writer" gloss of a book but I am really impressed. You have written a fine and thought provoking book. There were many things about your background that really surprised me. I thought you were from an "academic family" something like the "Hucksable TV family" but I found out that you were a normal person, just like all of us, trying to juggle work and family and bills. I truly respect all your accomplishments.

    My favorite writer is Doris Kearns Goodwin. I hope she writes a book about the Obama White House. I always felt safe when Obama was president. I felt his decision were well considered from all perspectives. I am an American living in Finland so I see the US from afar. Thank you for a well-written and honest memoir.

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