Thursday, October 28, 2021
Oct. 28, 2021

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Check It Out: Tales from White House delight

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In case it has slipped your attention, 2020 is a presidential election year. If this is news to you, don’t feel bad: you have months and months to hear all about it. Having just celebrated Presidents Day on February 17th, and knowing that an election will be taking place in November, I thought it might be a good time to get in some reading about the White House. I’m not highlighting presidential biographies in today’s reading list, but if these are right up your reading alley, be sure to search the library’s catalog for a good book about your favorite commander-in-chief.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live and/or work at the White House? Watching the DVD “The White House: Inside Story” produced by the Public Broadcasting Service provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes view. Curious about the Secret Service and what it’s like to be an agent? Check out “The First Family Detail” by Ronald Kessler as well as “Secret Service Dogs” by Maria Goodavage to get the canine’s point of view. Speaking of doggies, “Pets at the White House” by Jennifer Pickens showcases the many four-legged (and winged) family members who have called the White House “home sweet home.” First family pets include dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, ponies and even a raccoon. The raccoon’s name wasn’t Rocky but Rebecca, and she was supposed to be served for Thanksgiving dinner during President Coolidge’s term. Thankfully for Rebecca’s sake, the Coolidges decided she would be much better as a White House pet than a dinner item.

When thinking about jobs at the White House, I can say with confidence that I would never want to be the chief of staff. I’m sure there’s never a dull moment in this powerful job, and “The Gatekeepers” by Chris Whipple proves this point by sharing the roller coaster ride that constitutes a day in the life of chief of staff. Another job that I would never be qualified for but would really enjoy is head White House gardener. Get the inside scoop on all of the executive mansion’s gardens, past and present, through Marta McDowell’s engaging book “All the Presidents’ Gardens.”

Finally, a White House reading list just wouldn’t be complete without a book about UFOs because who are the space aliens going to call? The White House! Whether you believe in UFOs or not, “UFOs and the White House” by William J. Birnes is certainly an intriguing read. I think I hear the “Twilight Zone” theme song playing right now…

• “All the Presidents’ Gardens: Madison’s Cabbages to Kennedy’s Roses: How the White House Grounds Have Grown with America” by Marta McDowell.

• “The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents” by Ronald Kessler. (Available as eBook, eAudiobook)

• “The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency” by Chris Whipple (Also available as eBook, eAudiobook, Large Print, CD audio book)

• “Pets at the White House” by Jennifer Boswell Pickens.

• “Secret Service Dogs: The Heroes Who Protect the President of the United States” by Maria Goodavage. (Also available as eBook)

• “UFOs and the White House” by William J. Birnes.

• “The White House: Inside Story” [DVD] published by PBS.