The Quick 10: 10 Books (of the non-memoir variety) Written by Presidents

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It's no secret that Barack Obama has penned a couple of books "“ they flew off of the shelves during his bid for the presidency. In fact, most presidents have ended up writing their memoirs at some point after leaving the White House. But some presidents have chosen to write about the things that really interest them "“ fly-fishing, for instance. Here are 10 of those books (kind of refreshing, really, when a president chooses to not write about himself).

freemasonry
1. Letters on Freemasonry, John Quincy Adams. A member of the Anti-Masonic party, no doubt this book contains Adams' criticisms of the secret society.
2. Fishing for Fun And To Wash Your Soul, Herbert Hoover. Really.
3. Thomas Jefferson's Gardening Book, Thomas Jefferson. If you've ever wondered what Jefferson's diary of his gardening attempts, plant sketches and general musings looked like, wonder no more.
4. Through the Brazilian Wilderness, Teddy Roosevelt. OK, this one is about Teddy, but not about his presidency or politics. As you might suspect from the title, this book covered Teddy's 1913 Brazilian jungle expedition, a mission to bring back specimens for the American Museum of Natural History.

5. Leaders, Richard Nixon. Perhaps because he himself fell a little short, Nixon wrote a 1982 book that profiled the people he considered to be the greatest leaders of the 20th century. His list included Charles de Gaulle, Nikita Khruschev and Winston Churchill.

hornetsnest6. The Hornet's Nest: a Novel of the Revolutionary War, Jimmy Carter. No other president has tried his hand at historical fiction, so a tip of the hat to Jimmy Carter for stepping outside of the presidential comfort zone.
7. George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation, George Washington. Well, sort of. A teenage Washington was apparently quite taken by a similar work and copied down the best parts of each passage, resulting in 110 items that comprised his "Rules of Civility." They're pretty basic "“ "When in company, put not your hands to any part of the body not usually discovered," and "Put not off your clothes in the presence of others, nor go out your chamber half dressed," but they seem to have struck a chord with people over the years and have since been published as a small paperback.

8. Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787, James Madison. Sounds"¦ fascinating. I mean, it probably is, when you really get into it, especially if you're a history buff. But the title? A little dry. What is interesting is that Madison refused to allow this to be published until after he and everyone else at the convention had died.

9. Good Citizenship, Grover Cleveland. If you've ever wanted a handy little pocket guide to what it takes to be a good citizen, our 22nd (and 24th) president can help you out.

10. Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy. When he was still a senator, JFK inked a little Pulitzer Prize-winner called Profiles in Courage, about brave and honorable senators throughout the history of the U.S. It has since been alleged (and confirmed, basically, by the writer himself) that the book was largely written by Kennedy's speechwriter, Ted Sorensen.

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November 2, 2009 - 12:20pm
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