Michelle Obama’s new book, ‘The Light We Carry,’ to be published in November

With COVID-19, an insurrection, increased hate, bigotry, intolerance and more, Obama said she felt “out of balance. ... I felt vulnerable and yes, at times, I felt afraid.”

SHARE Michelle Obama’s new book, ‘The Light We Carry,’ to be published in November
Michelle Obama’s new book, “The Light We Carry.”

Michelle Obama’s new book, “The Light We Carry,” will be published in 14 languages and 27 countries with an initial printing of 2.75 million copies.


WASHINGTON — A new book by former first lady Michelle Obama, “The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times,” will be published on Nov. 15 and distributed around the globe, Penguin Random House announced Thursday.

In a video released as part of the announcement, Obama talked about the “uncertain times” we are in and how she hopes her new book is a “toolbox.”

“I can’t believe it’s been a few years since I published my memoir, ‘Becoming,’ and in that time, a lot has happened,” she said.

“We’ve seen a global pandemic, we’ve seen an insurrection, a rising tide of hate and bigotry and intolerance and a whole lot more, and it’s often left me feeling out of balance. 

“I don’t know about you, I felt vulnerable and yes, at times, I felt afraid. How do we overcome? How do we overcome our fears? How can we channel our frustration into something positive? And how do we rekindle that flame that’s inside each of us? And I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on those kinds of questions. I’ve spoken to a lot of loved ones, many of you, about what we all seem to be facing.”

What resulted from that process is her new book.

Obama’s memoir, “Becoming,” became a blockbuster. The South Side native kicked off her multination book tour for that work at the United Center on Nov. 13, 2018, with a conversation with her friend Oprah Winfrey.

Since that day, “Becoming,” according to Penguin Random House, sold more than 17 million units — that is, various formats — in 50 languages. Obama, who read the audiobook edition, won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word album.

Penguin Random House said “The Light We Carry” will be published in 14 languages and 27 countries with an initial printing of 2.75 million. Plans are for the book to be published in additional languages later.

The Spanish-language edition, titled “Con luz propia,” will be published by Plaza & Janés/Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial. The audiobook, read by Obama, will be released at the same time.

And as part of the rollout, Penguin Random House said it is “naming in her honor an annual $10,000 ‘Michelle Obama Award for Memoir’ within its signature Creative Writing Awards program.”


According to the publisher, the 336-page “The Light We Carry” is a series of “reflections on change, challenge, and power, including her belief that when we light up for others, we can illuminate the richness and potential of the world around us, discovering deeper truths and new pathways for progress. 

“Drawing from her experiences as a mother, daughter, spouse, friend, and First Lady, she shares the habits and principles she has developed to successfully adapt to change and overcome various obstacles — the earned wisdom that helps her continue to ‘become.’ She details her most valuable practices, like ‘starting kind,’ ‘going high,’ and assembling a ‘kitchen table’ of trusted friends and mentors. With trademark humor, candor, and compassion, she also explores issues connected to race, gender, and visibility, encouraging readers to work through fear, find strength in community, and live with boldness.”


Obama writes in the introduction, “I’ve learned it’s okay to recognize that self-worth comes wrapped in vulnerability, and that what we share as humans on this earth is the impulse to strive for better, always and no matter what.

“We become bolder in brightness. If you know your light, you know yourself. You know your own story in an honest way. In my experience, this type of self-knowledge builds confidence, which in turn breeds calmness and an ability to maintain perspective, which leads, finally, to being able to connect meaningfully with others — and this to me is the bedrock of all things. One light feeds another. One strong family lends strength to more. One engaged community can ignite those around it. This is the power of the light we carry.”


A day before the launch of her 2018 book tour, Obama returned to her high school, Whitney Young on Chicago’s West Side, to talk to 20 girls, all seniors, about her memoir, “Becoming,” in which she writes about how the school exposed her to a world outside the South Shore community where she was raised.

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