5 Things to Know About Michelle Obama’s New Memoir, “The Light We Carry”

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Her latest memoir reveals new stories for readers to dig into—and a few powerful self-help tips along the way

After penning her bestselling autobiography Becoming, which was released in 2018, former First Lady Michelle Obama is back at it again with a second memoir for her beloved readers to devour. Her book The Light We Carry dives deeper into “overcoming in uncertain times” with a series of fresh stories related to the challenges we endure when faced with change.

Unlike her first memoir Becoming, which took an in-depth look into Obama’s past chronicled from her days in the south side of Chicago all the way to the White House, this memoir takes a look at more recent events, including the “habits and principles she has developed to successfully adapt to change and overcome various obstacles,” according to Penguin Random House, which published it.

Here’s what we learned about Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama The Light We Carry Tour with Ellen Degeneres hostingTasos Katopodis/ Getty Images

1. She taught herself to knit

Like many quarantined at home during the pandemic, Obama decided to make the most of her time—and her hands—by picking up a new skill: knitting.

“Shaken by the enormity of everything that was happening, I needed my hands to introduce me to what was good, simple and accomplishable,” she writes in The Light We Carry. She turned to YouTube videos as a way to teach herself how to knit and kept her hands busy. It’s one of the ways she utilizes “the power of small,” which refers to the little victories that see us through when the world feels overwhelming.

2. She encourages others to “go high”

One of her motivating insights in The Light We Carry suggests readers “go high.” The saying comes from her speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention where the world heard one of the most inspiring Michelle Obama quotes: “When they go low, we go high.” The saying became a mantra for her and her husband, where going high is a set of values the two of them follow often: “Tell the truth, do your best by others, keep perspective, stay tough.”

“Going high is like drawing a line in the sand, a boundary we can make visible and then consider,” writes Obama, in a book excerpt shared with TIME magazine.

3. She begged her mother to move to the White House

After recently retiring and finding contentedness with her new life, Marian Robinson—the mother of Obama—was asked to move to the White House by her daughter. Actually, “begged” was the more accurate term used by the former First Lady.

“She had not wanted to come to Washington, but I had flat-out begged her,” she writes, shared in an excerpt with The Guardian. “My mother was the rock of our family. Since the time our daughters were babies, she’d helped us out around the edges of our regular childcare arrangements, filling the gaps as Barack and I often improvised and occasionally flailed our way through different career transitions, heavy workload cycles, and the ever-burgeoning after-school lives of our two young girls.”

4. She felt out of place at Princeton

In an honest telling of her time as an African American undergraduate at Princeton University in the 1980s, Obama shares that when trying to find a spot to sit in the dining hall, she assumed the people around her had particular thoughts about who she was. “There goes the Black girl, looking for a seat,” she writes. She explains that moments like that can be anxiety-ridden, and can “can mess with your head if you let it.”

5. Her daughters are roommates in Los Angeles

Her two daughters, Sasha and Malia Obama, both live in Los Angeles—as roommates, no less. In her book, Obama reveals that Sasha is in the city for college, while Malia is working an entry-level writing job. While there were many rules for the first family to follow when former President Obama was in office, both of these daughters still remain private about their lives—sometimes even going by different names to protect their identity.

Here’s where you can get The Light We Carry

Michelle Obama’s The Light We Carry is available now for purchase at all major retailers including Target, Walmart, and Barnes & Noble. The book is also available to order from Amazon, either in print or Kindle. It is sold in hardcover for $16.89, and as a Kindle e-book at $16.99. It is also available to listen to via an Audible subscription, where listeners can hear Obama narrating the book herself.

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Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a journalist and content strategist with a main focus on nutrition, health, and wellness coverage. She holds an MA in Journalism from DePaul University and a Nutrition Science certificate from Stanford Medicine. Her work has been featured in publications including Taste of Home, Reader's Digest, Bustle, Buzzfeed, INSIDER, MSN, Eat This, Not That!, and more.