In a two-part interview with Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Marilynne Robinson, published by the New York Review of Books, Obama and Robinson discussed some of the broader cultural forces that shape democracy and ideas.
Obama asked the author if she was worried about people not reading novels thanks to being "overwhelmed by flashier ways to pass the time".
He said for himself: "When I think about how I understand my role as a citizen, setting aside being president, and the most important set of understandings that I bring to that position of citizen, the most important stuff I’ve learned I think I’ve learned from novels.”
Obama added that it had to do with empathy, and being comfortable with the notion that the world is complicated and full of greys.
Robinson, the Pulitzer Prize 2005 winner for her novel Gilead, said literature at present was “full to bursting”, but that was wonderful was the incredible variety of voices in contemporary writing.
Read the full interview here.