my year with 44 men

Reading the Presidents One by One

Archive for the month “December, 2011”

T minus 7 days

In seven- yes seven- days, I’ll be undertaking potentially the most boring/interesting/redundant/political/intense/educational [circle one or more that apply] reading project I’ve ever started (maybe competing with Laura Reads the Classics 2010 for some of those titles?).


Washington came in the mail (as I posted), but Adams, who was ordered the very same day (and expected to arrive December 6th) didn’t come.  And didn’t come.  And didn’t come.  I started having mini strokes.  What if it doesn’t get here by the time I’m done with Washington?  What if the whole project is ruined because of some a-hole on Amazon and his laziness in shipping?  Do I skip to Jefferson?  Do I procrastinate with Washington?  Do I read something in between?  Meanwhile, my very patient husband kept his manta, “It’ll get here.  Things are busy during the holiday season at the Post.  Washington’s a big book- it might take you a little bit to get through.”  and so on, even though I know in his head he was cursing me and my First World Problems.  But then it came.  32 days after it was ordered, debited from my account, and “shipped from seller before 12 PM CST.”


All the while, I’m having another mini stroke.  I got a Barnes and Noble gift card as an early Christmas gift from a good friend.  That doesn’t sound like a crisis, right? Wrong.  My mind is reeling trying to decide what to do.  Do I buy a book to read to hold me over between now and New Years?  What if I get wrapped up in things and don’t get around to it? Then I’ve spent my gift card on a book that I can’t read until 2013.  What if I wait and use it to buy James Madison (#4), but I don’t have anything to read between Christmas and New Years?  It’s stuff like this that stresses me out.  Pathetic.

More to come.  Maybe not for 7 more days, but more to come eventually.


Look what came today!

This beauty arrived at a perfect time- after a bad day providing a perfect mood lift!


Super pumped at the arrival of Book 1- Washington: A Life.  It arrived after a bad day at work in its 904-page, 2.6 pound glory

Not sure if I can wait until January to start.

Committing to 44 Men

I read.  Some people are athletes, some people create things from raw materials, some people are musically inclined, but not me. I just read.  In fact, that’s pretty much all I do.  Ask my husband (who often supports my demanding book habit).  I would go so far as to say that my only two real skills in this world are digesting what most people would consider an outrageous number of books, and baking banana bread.  While my banana bread is delicious (you can also ask my husband about this), baking it is unfortunately not the most marketable talent, so I have to rely on my other mediocre talents that are fairly more profitable to afford said habit.  These are namely teaching and tutoring, working at a restaurant (which allowed me to read my way through high school and college), and being a student (which I’m really good at).  Like the saying goes, when I get my paycheck, I first buy books and with what’s left, food, clothes, and utilities.  So far it’s worked out well enough as I have yet to be naked, starving, and freezing in the dark while flipping pages.

We’re now into December, and like millions of others, I am wracking my brain to come up with a mildly hassle-free (but impressive sounding nonetheless) resolution for the upcoming new year (I might actually be about a month ahead, but I’m also an intense planner til kingdom come).

As for resolutions, I refuse to try to lose weight (by which I mean, join a gym and never go), to better learn to cook (my husband graciously eats spaghetti 5 nights a week), or promise to put away the laundry within a reasonable time of washing it (what’s the point if I’m going to get it back out to wear anyway?).  That pretty much takes out all standard resolutions and leaves me empty-headed and discouraged that I will never actually follow through on anything I start.  I refuse to fail by February.  So, once again, I’ll have to stay out-of-shape, eat spaghetti, and let the laundry pile up for another year.  But, as aforementioned, the one thing that I can do is read.  So, why not just make my book-project my resolution? It started a few years ago when I decided to take reading to a new level by setting some sort of goal for myself.  Some years have been a little more work-intensive than others.  One year, I opted to read 52 books deemed “classics” in a year.  This year, I set a goal of 100 that I hadn’t read before, which I met in October.  In 2012, I will read the definitive biography of each American president in order before the 2012 election in November.  I will openly tell anyone that my understanding of politics (past or present) and concept of American history (aside from the 1930s-50s) is pathetic.  I admit that a good portion of my knowledge of the presidents comes from this: .

If nothing else, I will hopefully be a more informed voter this year.

Picking which books has been the most difficult part so far.  Apparently some presidents are very well covered by biographers (how many biographies could one possibly need of William Harrison- he was only in office for 30 days before he died-, Andrew Jackson, or Franklin Pierce?), but some are hardly touched on (Chester Arthur or William Taft, for example have practically NOTHING out there).  One of my sources even claimed that, “we are still waiting for something definitive or even recommendable on Gerald Ford.”  Then I get to the problem of the most recent leaders.  All have published memoirs or autobiographies, but most of them aren’t far enough removed from office to have a good, clear, biography without an agenda.  I suppose I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

In the meantime, I’m pumped.  I emailed my AP US History teacher from high school- who may or may not have remembered me- and hoped I didn’t come off too creepy by asking about his favorite Presidential biographies.  A week later I heard back and felt a little better about my weirdness.  I asked Facebook for advice, and the only conclusion I could come to was that my friends are sarcastic fools who can’t read. Hours have been spent scouring the interwebs for a good biography of each president, and after much stress primary list has been complied.

Books one and two ordered and I’m just waiting for December to roll by so I can start.

PS:  Did anyone else forget that we had a president named James Buchanan or that Grover Cleveland was President twice (number 22 AND number 24)?  Oh! The things I will learn!

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