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Presidential Challenge

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message 1: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2564 comments Mod
The elections last night got me thinking what about a presidential challenge.
The challenge would be to
read one bio/autobio from a past (or current) president a month for the next year.
6 from modern day presidents (I'm thinking Kennedy forward)
6 from early presidents
3* from modern presidents who's party you don't align with
* reading biographies written by the opposing side about that president don't count. It would have to be something written by that president or by someone that favors that president
Come back here and report.
Anyone up for it?

message 2: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Nov 03, 2010 11:25AM) (new)

Elizabeth (Alaska) Interesting idea, Tera. I don't know if I would read as many as one a month, but I can say that I've got one here that I've been eyeing. Mornings on Horseback is about a time period and a president that I know all too little. It's about a young Teddy Roosevelt, and by an author that I know to be very readable. Maybe we could come up with a list of other very readable books about presidents.

message 3: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (cyndil62) | 1774 comments I agree with Elizabeth; very interesting idea...just not sure about one a month. I think it would be great though.

Elizabeth (Alaska) I think Stephen Ambrose is another readable biographer, and I see he has Eisenhower. Has anyone read Doris Kearns Goodwin? She has several presidential biographies.

message 5: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) I read Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It was excellent. It was a long read for me but after reading it I really feel like I got to know the man President Lincoln was.

Elizabeth (Alaska) Anne wrote: "I read Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It was excellent. It was a long read for me but after reading it I really feel like I got to kn..."

That's a chunky! Oops, wrong thread. ;-)

message 7: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (last edited Nov 03, 2010 03:35PM) (new)

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Interesting challenge idea. I do actually have multiple Presidential bios sitting on my shelf, (being the book hoarder than I am) so this might encouage me to read some of them.

For early presidents, I have
George Washington: Man and Monument
John Adams
In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson
Andrew Johnson: A Biography
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman

For more recent presidents, I have:
My Life, by Bill Clinton
An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917 - 1963
The Memoirs of Richard Nixon

I've already read Obama's books, so can't do him.

Do they have to be bios/autobios? Or can they be historical novels. For historical novels I also have:
Grant: A Novel

Reading one a month might be tough though, but I'm game to at least give this a shot, and see how many I can get through. :o)

message 8: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2564 comments Mod
Okay what about one every other month be the goal and one every month be the challenge?
Sheila I actually thought of you when I thought of this, following your reads I know you read McCains and Obamas bios.

message 9: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) | 1445 comments Tera, seriously, your ideas Rock!!! I love this. I make a goal about Presidential reads every year and haven't done it, and I heard a quote from Benjamin Franklin the other day that really made me wanna learn more about him. There's tons of Presidents I'd like to know more about, and I love the part about reading about those who are affiliated differently than you. That's bound to be a growth experience, esp. for someone like me.

Awesome, awesome. Take a bow, girl!

Elizabeth (Alaska) I'll have to see if/how I can work some of these into my main challenge - Reading with Style. For the next quarter (Dec-Feb), I'd kind of promised myself to read only off my shelf, but if I could fit in the one mentioned earlier, then maybe one (and just one) from the library in another month. If that works, I'll see about keeping it going.

message 11: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) | 1445 comments My mom loves Doris Kearns Goodwin's stuff, E. I really should read all of her Presidential biographies. She is such a smart, likable person too...I remember when she spoke at the funeral service for Tim Russert. She was a regular on Meet the Press, still is, I believe, although I don't watch it as much now that he is gone.

The Benjamin Franklin bio I've heard about for so long and wanted to read is this one:

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

Elizabeth (Alaska) I admit that I started John Adams several years ago - more than started, probably 2/3 through. Then other things in my life got busy, I wasn't reading as much and what I was reading was really light stuff. I could probably go back to the beginning on that one.

message 13: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) | 1445 comments I started that this year and got into other stuff too.

message 14: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new)

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Yes, I did read two of McCain's books, and two of Obama's books, right before the last Presidential election. :o)

I think I will start at the beginning with the books I have, and work forward in time. Meaning I'll start with the books on George Washington. Plus, that will give me time to round up some more books on more recent Presidents. Maybe I'll have to get a copy of Decision Points by George W. Bush. And maybe a biography about Reagan. Anyone know of a good book about him?

Can I suggest a small "bonus" point to the challenge? How about for an extra credit, reading one biography or memoir by or about a Presidential wife (a Presidential Chick! LOL)

Elizabeth (Alaska) If I were going to read one on Reagan, it would be I Love You, Ronnie: The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan.

message 16: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new)

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Thank you for that suggestion Elizabeth. That book looks great. I just ordered a copy from Paperback Swap. :o)

message 17: by Amy (new)

Amy | 59 comments I've been wanting to read Truman by David McCullough for the longest time. That one is quite the "chunky" read. But, I was also initially intimidated by John Adams by David McCullough and that book turned into one of my all-time favorites and quite possibly my #1 favorite.

Elizabeth (Alaska) Truman is one of the few audio books I've "read". It was quite good as I recall.

message 20: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new)

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
For anyone that needs more ideas for President books, I just found this list here on Goodreads:

Elizabeth (Alaska) Excellent, Sheila. I thought there must be a list, but I couldn't find one.

message 22: by Tera, First Chick (last edited Nov 03, 2010 08:35PM) (new)

Tera | 2564 comments Mod
Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "If I were going to read one on Reagan, it would be I Love You, Ronnie: The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan."
I've read that book and loved it. I forgot to add that to my GR list but my mom husband bought it for me on Valentines the year it came out. I kinda have a love affair with President Regan.

When Character Was King: A Story of Ronald Reagan I am part way through. I really really love Peggy Noonan.

I LOVE the idea of 1st Wives books too. I always have hoped for a series on first wives sort of like Phillipa Gregory did with the Tudors or other historical fiction. Ill have to put that on my TBW (to be written) list ;)

FYI Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter wouldn't count ;)

message 23: by Jenn (last edited Nov 03, 2010 09:31PM) (new)

Jenn | 25 comments Oh wow this is something I keep telling myself to do. I need to brush on my history and I was planning (someday) to start reading more about our presidents. Of course I just never got around to it. One time I did pick up a rather decent sized book on Teddy Roosevelt, but never got into it because I was reading other books.

I don't know how I'll do but being challenged might just get me motivated to do this. I'm up to try.

message 24: by Christine (new)

Christine | 1311 comments Tera, Excellent Idea! I will probably be doing the one every other month. Having a hard time getting into the swing of things, still trying to organize my shelves etc.
I want to read it all and right now!! :)
Thanks Sheila for the link to books, greatly appreciated. My MIL got the Sarah Palin book a couple months ago and she said it was pretty good. I know that wouldn't count but wanted to throw that out there. :)

message 25: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) | 1445 comments Sheila wrote: "For anyone that needs more ideas for President books, I just found this list here on Goodreads:"

Thank you so much for that list.

I love the idea of Presidential wives also.

message 26: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) | 1445 comments If anyone would like an overview of the Presidents to help you decide which to read about you may want to try this. I've not read it yet, but skimming through, it looks good!

U.S. Presidents for Dummies

message 27: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new)

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Okay, this challenge has really caught my interest. Since I had finished the book I was reading and needed something new to start, I pulled George Washington: Man and Monument off my book shelf and started it last night. Very interesting so far, with many details about Washington I wasn't aware of. And since I want to learn about the wives too, I went Paperback Swap shopping for a bio on Martha, and ordered Martha Washington: A Brief Biography, to read after the book about her husband.

Then I think I'll move on to John Adams. I've seen parts of the mini series about this book, which I enjoyed, so think I will like the book, though it is a bit chunky at 751 pages so it might take me awhile to get through. I've previously read a book about his wife, Abigail Adams : An American Woman, so the wife side is covered there.

And since I've heard alot about what a great woman Eleanor Roosevelt was, and have a book on my shelf about her husband but nothing about her, I went PBS shopping for a book about her. Ended up ordering a book written by her, Tomorrow Is Now.

Looking forward to hearing what books everyone else picks to read.

message 28: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (cyndil62) | 1774 comments Wow Sheila!! You go girl!!! I have a book about John Adams and Abigail; I will have to dig it out. They are ancestors of my mother in law who was an Adams herself; which I think will make it even more interesting to me.

message 29: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) | 1445 comments Seriously Sheila, you GO!!!

Ben Franklin wasn't one of our Presidents, of course, but I'm counting him for this as a Founding Father. Leave it to me to be a rule breaker!!

I really like this cause I stink at history and this should really help.

Bloomin’Chick (Jo) aka The Eclectic Spoonie (bloominchick) Tera, I think this is such a great idea! I'm not going to participate though, I'm trying to get back into the swing of my life and don't want to overwhelm myself any more than I already am, lol! But I wanted to let you know this is such a great & creative challenge!

message 31: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Sounds like a great idea Tera.

message 32: by KrisT (new)

KrisT | 553 comments I think it would be a fun challenge. I am not sure I will read that many but I pick up something from time to time and that would be okay with me. I read The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey earlier this year. It was okay and I learned some things but didn't care for it really. I will keep digging.

message 33: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 2175 comments I might be up for a more relaxed pace of this challenge. I love history, but know very little about American presidents. When would it start? Are there points to be scored?

message 34: by Meg (last edited Nov 06, 2010 07:55AM) (new)

Meg (megvt) | 3069 comments I love your idea Tera. I am game to try.

message 35: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2564 comments Mod
Start asap. It will go from now until next November (the unset of the next presidential election season).
No points just my admiration ;)
Name the books you plan on reading and come back and report when you have read them or even if you started and gave up.
Review not only the book but let us know if anything in the book was a new revelation, changed your mind or gave you a new perspective.

message 36: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4135 comments Ugh! It used to be that the presidential election season began around Labor Day of the election year, then it seemed to be pushed back to the spring then the winter and now we are talking about it beginning an entire year before the day of the vote. How DEPRESSING!

message 37: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new)

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
For anyone who doesn't follow the "chunky read" threads, and who would like to read a big Presidential book, Truman by David McCullough is up for vote in the poll for the next chunky read. If this book sounds interesting to you, and you'd like to read it and discuss it with others, please consider voting for it on the poll, which can be found at the bottom of the main page, or by clicking on "polls" on the right side of this page. :o)

Presidential Chunky Read plug over. :o)

message 38: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Rebecca wrote: "Good idea. I feel like the challenge of 6 is a bit much. But would I have in mind to read Decision points, Tony Blairs book and Laura Bush's. So I will do what I can. Sheila I will vote for Truman on the chunky group. :)"

Elizabeth (Alaska) I think many of you will enjoy Truman - I did. I'm not sure a biography is the sort of book that's best for the chunky reads, though.

message 40: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new)

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Presidential Update: George and Martha Washington

Okay, I've read the following books, and while I am not the best reviewer on Goodreads by far, here are my review thoughts on each:

George Washington: Man and Monument
Published in 1958, this biography was an interesting look at our first President, and it compared the "real" Washington (the Man) with some of the myths that surrounded him (the Monument). I admit that from school I had always pictured Washington as this mythical figure, the Father of Our Country, this Great Man riding his White Stallion, etc. But he was just a typical man, who didn't necessarily desire and want the presidency, but who did his duty for our country, before retiring for a short time to his beloved Mount Vernon, the place he really wanted to be. Very sad that he only had two years of retirment before dying following a brief illness.

It was also interesting to read about how prevalent political parties and the divide between them was even at the beginning of our country. Except then it was the Federalists vs the anti-Federalist Republicans. But the political party divide existed even then.

Martha Washington: A Brief Biography
Published by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, this book is a short but interesting look at the life of Martha Washington, with details of her family life, her children and grandchildren, and with excerpts from personal letters she wrote, which gave a nice insight into her life and thoughts.

and as an added historical look, from the time of Washington's presidency:

Common Sense by Thomas Paine
I downloaded an e-book copy of this to read because I am reading a biography of George Washington, and this book from the time of America's independance is mentioned.

Reading this, it is interesting to see what the thinking of the American colonies was during this time. And I have to admit, Thomas Paine did make some very valid points, such as this:

"Small islands not capable of protecting themselves, are the proper objects for kingdoms to take under their care; but there is something very absurd, in supposing a continent to be perpetually governed by an island. In no instance hath nature made the satellite larger than its primary planet, and as England and America, with respect to each other, reverses the common order of nature, it is evident they belong to different systems: England to Europe, America to itself."

If you want a short read to learn more about the thinking during the time of the American Revolution, then this is a good choice.

(plus, if you want to read Common Sense for free, you can read it right here on Goodreads. Just click on the book link above for it, and up where the details are there is a place you can click to "read book" and the book will be opened in a screen right here on Goodreads)

message 41: by Usako (new)

Usako (bbmeltdown) | 654 comments This challenge sounds wonderful! I like the first wives idea!

message 42: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) | 1445 comments Has anyone decided which Presidents to read about? Or is everyone just playing it by ear?

message 43: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new)

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
I'm just playing it by ear, and I'm going to try to read all the books about Presidents that I already own. My next read will be Truman, with the "chunky" read thread. :o)

Laura, have you decided on any to read yet?

message 44: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2564 comments Mod
I just picked up Mornings on Horseback

message 45: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) | 1445 comments Well I already had this Benjamin Franklin: An American Life from the library, and even though he's not a President, he's on the $100 bill lol and was one of our founders so I'm using him!

And then I'm not sure. Feels weird for me not to go chronological and start w Washington.

This is actually turning into a historical quest for me. I hated history in school and wrote poetry instead. So I feel like I've got tons of gaps. This book by Isaacson has really whetted my appetite, let me tell you. It's actually a page-turner! I never thought I'd say that about history!

I'm curious what you'll think about Mornings on Horseback, Tera, it's been on my TBR for some time.

message 46: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (gypsymtngirl) This is a really intriguing idea! I like it! I think I can agree to doing 3 this year. There are so many books I want to read and usually these books are LONG.

Elizabeth (Alaska) Tera wrote: "I just picked up Mornings on Horseback"

I haven't discounted that I'll find a place for this in the next months, but so far no go. I'm ever the optimist, though.

Elizabeth (Alaska) Duh. I just found a place for it!

Prince William and Kate Middleton have finally announced that they're getting married. In honor of events like this one that people can't seem to get enough of, read a non-fiction book about the private life of a monarch, elected official, or candidate.

If Mornings on Horseback doesn't fit that bill exactly, I don't know what would!

Elizabeth (Alaska) Oh, Tera, do you know what you've done here? I've added some 15 books to my Wish List - actually I created a new shelf called History and Biography. Pulitzer gives a prize both for History and Biography. Not all presidents, but still, it's lured me. Whodathunkit?

message 50: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2564 comments Mod
Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "Oh, Tera, do you know what you've done here? I've added some 15 books to my Wish List - actually I created a new shelf called History and Biography. Pulitzer gives a prize both for History and Biog..."

mwahahaha my evil plan begins to unfold!

I found myself the other day glued in front of the biography row at my library. I have my eyes on American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House and First Family: Abigail and John Adams so I feel your pain. Or is it joy?

I know HS and College are important but I really think I've learned more in my library than any other spot on earth

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