The Best-Read Presidents

In honor of Presidents' Day, The Daily Beast ranks the top 19 presidents who were the most avid readers and book collectors, from James Buchanan to Theodore Roosevelt. Plus, find out what books they read.

02.14.10 10:27 PM ET

We judge our presidents on their economic, military, and political accomplishments, but what of their reading? Is there perhaps a connection between the best-read presidents and those who sit near the top of rankings of the best presidents in history? The Daily Beast scoured biographies, presidential libraries, and available records to come up with our list of the presidents who were the most avid readers. The list is based on the size of their libraries, references to their reading habits, and what the types of books they read. From FDR’s 22,000-volume library to Thomas Jefferson’s reading in several different languages, we’ve compiled the ultimate presidential bibliophile list.

View Our Gallery Of The Bibliophile Presidents

Next we compared our results to a recent C-SPAN poll of prominent historians ranking the best presidents in American history. The results are not surprising—the top-ranked presidents all made our list near the top of presidential readers. There are a few surprises like Millard Fillmore, surely a justly forgotten president, who also happened to be responsible for creating the White House library.

Plus: Check out Book Beast, for more news on hot titles and authors and excerpts from the latest books.