A Promised Land by Barack Obama. Crown Publishing, $45.
A Promised Land reads like Barack Obama is speaking to you — in that unique way the former president has of making you feel like you are having an intimate conversation while he also maintains a quiet personal distance. This is the first of a two-volume autobiography, and Obama is rueful and honest — especially when it comes to his marriage with Michelle Obama — and reflective while never quite diving all the way into mea culpa. Much like listening to president-to-be Joe Biden, Obama’s voice reminds me of a better time, not perfect, but better. — Camilla Mortensen