US Presidents Reading Challenge

This is the second third FOURTH year in a row as of December, 2020 that I have made it an official goal to read a book about each president NOT named Washington, Lincoln, or Kennedy. I will still read books about them I am sure, but I need to branch out and learn about all of these great and not-so-great men who were chosen at various times in history to lead the greatest nation on earth.

**EDIT** 12-28-2020: Massive fail. This is no longer going to be a reading goal of any kind. As I read books about the various presidents, I will add those here. That's it. No more goal.

**EDIT** 12-26-18: I am being realistic, I will not finish this in 2019. BUT, I can make progress. I'd like to read at least ten books on presidents this year.

**EDIT** 1-1-18: Here we go again, wish me luck! Sometimes I may choose to not write a full review of the book, for lack of time. I may write up something short, in which case the link will take you to Goodreads.

**EDIT** 12/20/17: I think we can agree that this goal was a colossal failure. Never fear, 2018 is right around the corner!

**EDIT** 3/29/17: With me now working on my own book project, I have decided that while attempting this goal, I will not necessarily being doing a full review for all of the books. I will still rate them and say a few things or make a few notes, but to try to maximize my time, something has to give. I am juggling reading president books with Eleanor of Aquitaine jumping about inside my brain and while I enjoy the busy-ness of it all, I have to be realistic about what I can accomplish while also being a momma and an educator.

Happy Reading!

1. George Washington

2. John Adams

3. Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson by Joyce Appleby 3 Stars (2018)

4. James Madison

5. James Monroe

6. John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams and the Politics of Slavery: Selections from the Diary by David Waldstreicher and Matthew Mason 4 Stars (2018)

7. Andrew Jackson

8. Martin Van Buren

9. William Henry Harrison

10. John Tyler

11. James K. Polk

12. Zachary Taylor

13. Millard Filmore

14. Franklin Pierce

15. James Buchanan

16. Abraham Lincoln
Father Lincoln: The Untold Story of Abraham Lincoln and His Boys - Robert, Eddy, Willie, and Tad by Alan Manning 4 Stars (2018)

Lincoln's Last Trial: The Murder Case That Propelled Him to the Presidency by Dan Abrams, 5 Stars (2018)

Lincoln Reconsidered: Essays on the Civil War Era by David Herbert Donald, 3 Stars (2018)

Six Months at the White House with Abraham Lincoln by Francis Bicknell Carpenter, 4 Stars (2018)

17. Andrew Johnson

18. Ulysses S. Grant

19. Rutherford B. Hayes

20. James Garfield

21. Chester A. Arthur

22. and 24. Grover Cleveland

23. Benjamin Harrison

25. William McKinley

26. Theodore Roosevelt:
Rough Riders: Theodore Roosevelt, His Cowboy Regiment, and the Immortal Charge Up San Juan Hill by Mark Lee Gardner 4 Stars (2017)

27. William H. Taft

28. Woodrow Wilson

29. Warren. G. Harding

30. Calvin Coolidge

31. Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover by William Leuchtenburg 2 Stars (2018)

32. Franklin D. Roosevelt

33. Harry Truman

34. Dwight D. Eisenhower:
Eisenhower: A Life by Paul Johnson 3 Stars (2017)

35. John F. Kennedy:
If Kennedy Lived: The First and Second Terms of President John F. Kennedy: An Alternate History by Jeff Greenfield 3 Stars (2017)

36. Lyndon B. Johnson

37. Richard Nixon:
Watergate: The Scandal that Brought Down a President by Charles River Editors 3 Stars (2017)

38. Gerald Ford

39. Jimmy Carter

40. Ronald Reagan

41. George H.W. Bush

42. Bill Clinton

43. George W. Bush

44. Barack Obama:
The Obamas by Jodi Kantor 1 Star (2017)

Obama: An Oral History by Brian Abrams 5 Stars (2018)

Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents by Pete Souza 5 Stars (2018)

Obama: An Intimate Portrait by Pete Souza 5 Stars (2018)

46. Joe Biden

Books about Multiple Presidents


  1. Um, isn't there someone missing at the end of your list, Sarah?

    1. He's not in office yet, and I would never consider him worthy of reading about anyway! That's saying a lot, considering I always thought W would be the worst.

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you! As I have read about some of my favorite presidents over the years, I have come to realize how little I know about others. I am excited to accomplish this goal.

  3. Great idea! I've been playing with the idea of reading a book on each president (at least those who were in office long enough to do love for you, Harrison!), but it's a back-burner kind of thing. Good luck to you in your quest, though!

    1. Thank you! I've fallen hopelessly behind in my attempt and this will soon become the 2017/2018 Presidential Goal, but it is one I still hope to complete. Poor Harrison, always left out of everything!

  4. I remember really liking Ford's autobiography "A Time to Heal", especially the letter he wrote to his son, but when I read it I didn't know a thing about his presidency ,and I was REALLY young -- 17, 18. He and Carter have remained in my head as two of the more genuinely decent people to be in office in the 20th, although they weren't good at the job. It may be not a post fit for genuinely nice people.

    1. I will look for that biography. I don't think I have one in mind yet for Ford. But give me ten minutes in Half Price Books and then it will be a completely different story!

      I definitely agree at least a bit that genuinely nice people don't make good presidents. When you truly want to help people, and you're working against a Congress and lobbyist who are out for themselves, it is hard to get things done.

  5. Wow! One more thing we have in common. I want to read a biography of every single president, including the famous ones. It's been a slow slog, because I'm also reading biographies of writers and composers.

    1. YES! So slow! I thought it would be so easy...but some of these guys are so boring! or, they're terrible humans and I get annoyed with them. Maybe we can help and encourage one another with this goal, because I am failing miserably!

  6. If you have not selected a title already for John Adams, I suggest the biography by David McCullough. What struck me about the book is how it is really a love story between John and his wife, Abigail. They wrote extensively and many of those letters survived. Adams spent many years abroad in service to the new United States and he and Abigail are able to maintain their relationship and love through their writings.

    Since I see that you are more interested in the human aspect of history, I thought that this might be right up your alley. If you're interested, you can read my full review on Goodreads.



    1. I really appreciate that suggestion, thank you. That is the one I have been eyeing as my specific read about John Adams, we think alike! I finished an ARC recently about the Founding Families and of course there was extensive coverage of the Adams' family, in addition to John and Abigail. I really enjoyed it. A few years ago I also read a book on Abigail and the exchange of letters between her and John were touched on and quoted from many times. I am anxious to read more.

      I will be sure to check out your review, thank you for stopping by and affirming my choice for my book on Adams was the right one!

  7. I have an Andrew Jackson book, would you be interested?

    1. Sure, I'd be happy to read and review it! What formats do you have available?


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