Gifts for Valentine's Day or President's Day: Presidential books of historic proportion

Valentine's Day will soon be upon us. While Cupid would do right by many by showering upon them flowers, chocolates, music and more, some folks might prefer something a little more suited for the holiday following on the heels of Valentine's Day. I'm talking, of course, about President's Day. If your Valentine—or you—enjoy history and all things presidential, here are two books sure to make an ideal gift for either holiday.

Ronald Reagan's Wisdom for the Twenty-First Century, edited by Charlotte Livingston with commentary by John E. Wade II and Daniel P. Agatino. Regardless of one's political affiliation, the quotes culled from the "Great Communicator's" speeches offer insightful observations that still hold true in our times. That said, this book is one surely to be savored by folks leaning more to the right than the left. Topics in this paperback collection include America, politics, pop culture, God, the economy and more.

The book is divided into chapters based on the topics, and each page in the chapters features a quote from the former president, followed by commentary by Wade and/or Agatino (most often, both). Reagan's wisdom and vision underscore the fact that although our society has changed much since his presidency, it and we are still very much the same.

My favorite history lover—my husband—thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the many famous and some not-so-famous witticisms and inspirational quotes from his favorite president. He didn't, though, enjoy the commentary included with each quote quite as much.

Ronald Reagan's Wisdom for the Twenty-First Century, published by Pelican, has a suggested retail price of $12.95 and is available at most book stores.


George Washington: An Interactive Biography by Rod Gragg. Much has been written about our country's first president, but never in as engaging a manner as this hardcover, colorful book filled with flaps, forms, pockets, pictures, documents and more. Readers—well, more like explorers—are treated to reproductions of historical documents and maps from the front of the book on through to the back, many pulled from parchment pockets or hidden compartments.

My history hound of a husband delighted in the unique presentation of facts and information on President Washington, trivia and tales that added to the veneration of Washington and a better understanding of his character and the challenges he faced in shaping and protecting our nation.

I, even though not a huge fan of history, was delighted by the bits and pieces of history shared throughout. I had previously seen—and purchased—books of a similar style, though related to musicians. I had never considered how such presentation can make the acquiring of historical information far easier to swallow for folks who, like myself, fail miserably at the "history" card in games of trivia. I'm pretty sure I'll be a winner going forward in such games, at least as the questions may relate to Washington, simply because it's impossible to not retain massive amounts of information via the bite-sized and tactile nuggets shared in this fascinating edition.

George Washington: An Interactive Biography, published by Pelican, has a suggested retail price of $34.95 and is available at most book stores.

Disclosure: I received copies of these books for review. Opinions and anecdotes are my own.