In early 2017, I decided to make a commitment to read at least one biography of every president, in order. As of today (Feb. 18, 2018) I have finished everyone up to Lincoln, the 16th president. For some presidents — Washington, Madison and Jackson — I have read two books. I also finished biographies of Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, the Marquis de Lafayette and Harriett Tubman.
How do I decide which author’s book to read on a particular president? One of my favorite sources is Stephen Floyd’s excellent website, My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies, and his very helpful list of book reviews, located here. There is also a good listing by Natalie Jennings and Sean Sullivan on the Washington Post’s “The Fix” blog, located here. I also consult the reviews on Amazon, and The New York Times Book Review is helpful for more recently published books.
I prefer to a cradle-to-grave, one-volume book, and I prefer to get a new, hard copy (I do not like to read an e-Book). Because I have hang-ups about germs, getting a clean copy is important to me! I prefer paperback to hardcover, because paperbacks are a bit lighter weight and easier to carry around.
How do I find time for so much reading? I try to devote at least an hour every night after dinner (so much less TV viewing time for me) and on long flights. If I go to lunch or dinner by myself, I bring my current book.
Before I move on to Andrew Johnson, the 17th president, I intend to read at least one more book on Lincoln, plus I also want to throw in Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Frederick Douglass.
I will continue to post my “book reports” as I continue reading, learning and reflecting.