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America’s Best Read Presidents

We love to know what public figures, and celebrities are reading so today we thought we should look at the reading habits of some of America’s presidents both past and present. As a tool used to project an innate intelligence and an instant trustworthiness, books have been a consistent prop throughout the years of America’s political and presidential history.

John Adams had a library of over 3,000 books, which, when you consider that in 1776 a first edition of Adam Smith’s ‘The Wealth of Nations’ would have cost the equivalent of $615 in today’s money, gives credence to him allegedly confessing to his wife, Abigail, “I have been imprudent, I have spent an estate in books.”

He was followed, of course, by Thomas Jefferson who collected almost 6,500 books in his personal library which went on to become the foundation for The Library of Congress. Jefferson himself once noted “I cannot live without books” a sentiment I’m sure we all agree with.

Abraham Lincoln found it even harder to find, let alone afford new literature and would instead re-read the few tomes he possessed, using them to strengthen his own skills and it is not without foundation that his reading has been credited for his astonishing rise from back woodsman to Poet President.

Teddy Roosevelt took his reading obsession one step further, a voracious reader he would devour books at the rate of two or three every night and if a specific book caught his attention he would seek out its author, befriending them and enhancing their reputation along with his own.

The value placed on the president being well read is shown perfectly in John F. Kennedy’s overstated interest in Fleming’s James Bond series. Apparently JFK had merely expressed a passing interest in the “cool sex and brutality” of the Bond novels and films. However, his interest whether factual or purely a publicity gag,  was very successful for both author and president.

Here we move on to Ronald Reagan, yet another avid presidential reader. Reagan was much less inclined to publicise his love for literature both fiction and non-fictional, being heard to say, “People don’t need to hear that”. When it was revealed that Reagan considered Tom Clancy’s the Hunt For Red October to be “a perfect yarn”, the novel was immediately catapulted up the best seller’s list and Clancy has often accredited Reagan with his book’s success.

Bill Clinton, “I love mysteries. I’m an addict; that’s one of my little cheap thrills outlet. I’m always reading mysteries.” It’s nice to know his taste in literature reflected his taste in ahem, other entertainment

In direct contrast to his perceived image as being uncouth and unread, George W. Bush had a huge appetite for books and despite the difficult era throughout which he presided he is rumoured to have read roughly 186 books in the 2 year period between 2006-2008.

And last but certainly not least, Barack Obama. Another avid reader and one who is happy to share his love of books, to the extent that we now have a phenomenon known as ‘The Presidential Book Bump’ from his penchant for carrying his latest read in a jacket pcket. Authors who have benefited from his reading choices include Kent Haruf, Richard Price, Jonathan Franzen and Doris Kearns Goodwin.

As a Brit, I found it fascinating researching presidents and their reading habits. I certainly learned something new about the more recent leaders f the United States.
Happy Independence Day to all of our American followers. Hope you have a happy, healthy one and you find five minutes to sneak a quick chapter or two into your day. ~ Shan

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