Four years ago we spent a long weekend in Gettysburg, PA. We stayed at a quaint bed and breakfast right on the battlefield. We toured. We ate out in nice places. It was before we had children and we could afford the time spent meandering about somewhere not to mention the cost of the nice inn and meals. I've always been a big history buff. I enjoy a good documentary or book that tell the story of history without being too dry. Some of my favorite vacations are to historical landmarks where I get to walk around feeling connected lives that have come before me.

This trip was no different in that regard. It did, however, inspire me a bit more than other trips had. Bruce devours anything he can get his hands on about Abe Lincoln - and that includes text, films and tours on the Civil War (thus our trip). I'd watch him read biography after biography. I'd see him get into the minute details of a great man's life. He knew more about Lincoln that I think my history teachers combined ever knew. It was enviable - to be that knowledgeable on a subject one was interested in.

Over the course of this weekend we sat on long, hard benches and watched tacky mechanical figures give short biographical introductions to every US President from Washington to present. It occurred to me, as we watched the eyes of each rigged up man stare straight ahead despite the spotlight shining over his head, that I knew so very little about so very many of these leaders. I know whatever the person in charge of defining my curriculum had deemed important. I knew whatever they could squish into 10-ish months of a school year. I knew the basics.

I was hungry for more.

And so I launched a crusade for knowledge. I decided, at that very moment, that I was going to read at least one book on every President. I looked up titles. I made my lists. I started my reading.

In the last four years I've finished the book on Washington.

I'm stalled on John Adams.

My problem is I struggle to read dry books. I like historical accounts that read like novels. I like feeling less like I'm in class and more like I'm engaged in the story. I don't think I've found that yet, but I want to.

I was teased the other day that I was taking this all too much to heart. I'm treating it like a pass-or-fail class I'm in danger of failing when it's really my own hard-headedness pushing me to read a book I'm not enjoying. I don't think it's quite like that. I'm hungry for this journey. I WANT to go forward. I want to learn, to grow, and to experience and I want to take THIS path to it. I have my reasons for approaching my quest through Presidential study. Perhaps at some point, maybe when I'm back into my reading, I'll share my own little nutty inspiration. Or not, perhaps no one really cares much to know.

This whole long post just to say - HELP! Anyone have any good books to suggest?


   м [о] ι    said...
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   м [о] ι    said...

sorry i know this is completely irrelevant to your blog, but can you please tell me how did you change the layout, etc?
you can contact me at natalia_nt@hotmail.com
thanks a bunch!!!

Mandy said...

I started a similar quest, but never even found the book on Washington that looked juicy enough to read. I did, however, find one on Abigail Adams that I couldn't put down. I could dig up that title if you were interested. I have since shifted my focus to the First Ladies and will be reading Founding Mothers for a book club next month.

Totally unrelated, but have you read The Widow of the South? If not, I will send it when I am finished. It is really really good (this month's book club read).

Lisa said...

I wish I could be of more help, but I don't really read those types of books much. I read 1776, which was wonderful. I think that's a great project you've started for yourself! I'm here via MIchele's today.

Goofy Girl said...

Love the layout and the top picture. Really nice.

I don't have any good historical books on the presidents to suggest. I'm not much for political history really although I do enjoy the daily show. This might be an obvious solution but try pursuing amazon, lots of times books that get 4+ stars and 20+ reviews I've found I have also enjoyed.

thatgirl said...

I'll ask Matt about this.

expatmama said...

This reminds me of an assignment we had in high school history. We had to write a paper comparing the depictions of a famous person as seen by two different biographers. The teacher wanted us to see how subjective history can be...

Anyway, I'm sure there are more books out there, and one that would be better reading! Good luck.