2017 Reading Goals

potus-sealI have mentioned before how much I love reading. The act of reading is, to me, one of the greatest pleasures in life. To couple that enjoyment with an opportunity for learning seems to be the ultimate experience, benefitting both your soul (the enjoyment) AND your mind (the learning).

I mentioned in my previous post regarding my 2016 goals the following;

“The amount of brain capacity we have been given and can continue to build upon is incredible. Why, if given the option to improve this brain power, would you not take it? Why would we not spend more time reading, what Drew called, ‘thought provoking’ and ‘mind blowing’ books? We are wasting this amazing capability for knowledge with useless information. I read for entertainment, yes, but there is a whole world of learning out there as well just waiting on you to check out that one book that will blow your mind. Trust me, there’s room in our noggins for both entertainment AND learning.”

I still feel this way, even more so after this past year of reading things that I feel truly contributed to my learning and well-being.

Although I only this past year set a specific goal, theme wise, to my reading, I have set “numerical” goals the last several years on Goodreads.

So, for 2017 my goal is relatively simple, albeit still a bit lofty, depending on how extensive and lengthy each book is: Read at least one biography of each US President.

My main criteria for the books are as follows;

  • Each book will cover the entirety of a President’s time in office and/or life, not just a single event within their Presidency
  • Each book will be as objective as possible, with the least amount of personal bias towards the President (I tried reading a biography of Barack Obama right after he took office. I can’t for the life of me remember which one it was, but only made it through the first 3 to 4 chapters before shelving it. The author’s bias was nauseatingly obvious and took away from the actual facts of the book.)
  • Each book will be read (as much as possible anyway) in the chronological order that each President served, hopefully to make a somewhat seamless transition from one to the next

Several caveats, however;

  • I have previously read several books about one of my favorite historical “characters”, Theodore Roosevelt (as a matter of fact, a buddy from work bought me the hardcover trilogy of the Edmund Morris series just because we had discussed Roosevelt and he knew how much I liked him! What a guy, am-I-right?). I actually haven’t gotten into the third book of the trilogy yet, so if I don’t find a “new” biography of him, it’s not a big deal
  • Grover Cleveland was our 22nd AND 24th President so only one book will be read about him
  • I previously read Candice Millard’s FANTASTIC “Destiny of the Republic” regarding the assassination of James Garfield, so if I am unable to track down a good book on him, I won’t consider it a bust, however I would like to read about more than just his assassination

***HOW I’M DECIDING***
THIS SITE is pretty awesome, and the author/reader has done a TON of work laying down his opinions on the biographies he’s read.

The current list I’ve been compiling is a combination of his recommendations, Goodreads/Amazon reviews, and availability/price of the book.

The books listed on my Amazon Wishlist (“2017-POTUS Reading”) are my first choice, but seeing as I have no real vested interest in any of them, I have quite a bit of wiggle room just as long as the book fits into my above criteria.

Over the past month or two, I’ve been perusing the bookshelves at Bookman’s all around Tucson (I bet that Chamblin Bookmine has a great selection too!)

***THE LIST***
As of the time of this post going live, I only have a handful of books (hence the “PENDING” behind the majority of my list below);

(#01) George Washington / Washington: The Indispensable Man by James Thomas Flexner

(#02) John Adams / John Adams by David McCullough

(#03) Thomas Jefferson / American Sphinx:The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph J Ellis

(#04) James Madison / PENDING

(#05) James Monroe / James Monroe:The Quest for National Identity by Harry Ammon

(#06) John Quincy Adams / PENDING

(#07) Andrew Jackson / American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by John Meacham

(#08) Martin Van Buren / PENDING

(#09) William H Harrison / PENDING

(#10) John Tyler / PENDING

(#11) James K Polk / PENDING

(#12) Zachary Taylor / PENDING

(#13) Millard Filmore / PENDING

(#14) Franklin Pierce / PENDING

(#15) James Buchanan / PENDING

(#16) Abraham Lincoln / PENDING

(#17) Andrew Johnson / PENDING

(#18) Ulysses S Grant / PENDING

(#19) Rutherford B Hayes / PENDING

(#20) James A Garfield / PENDING

(#21) Chester A Arthur / PENDING

(#22/#24) Grover Cleveland / PENDING

(#23) Benjamin Harrison / PENDING

(#25) William McKinley / PENDING

(#26) Theodore Roosevelt / PENDING

(#27) William H Taft / PENDING

(#28) Woodrow Wilson / PENDING

(#29) Warren G Harding / PENDING

(#30) Calvin Coolidge / PENDING

(#31) Herbert Hoover / PENDING

(#32) Franklin D Roosevelt / PENDING

(#33) Harry S Truman / PENDING

(#34) Dwight D Eisenhower / PENDING

(#35) John F Kennedy / PENDING

(#36) Lyndon B Johnson / PENDING

(#37) Richard Nixon / PENDING

(#38) Gerald Ford / PENDING

(#39) Jimmy Carter / PENDING

(#40) Ronald Reagan / PENDING

(#41) George HW Bush / PENDING

(#42) Bill Clinton / PENDING

(#43) George W Bush / PENDING

(#44) Barack Obama / PENDING

(#45) Donald Trump / PENDING

Some of the books are 600-700 pages so it is definitely not a goal to just “breeze through”. My contingency plan is to carry over my 2017 reading goal to 2018 if I don’t make it through all 45 of our Presidents. Also, this is my main goal for the year but it doesn’t preclude me from reading other material as it arrives or strikes my fancy. Come on now, I can’t sequester myself away and ONLY read Presidential bios now can I? 🙂

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