Try the David Maraniss biography “Barack Obama: The Story,” says Justin Wm. Moyer.              (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune via AP)

Deciding to read 43 books about 44 presidents is a tough enough commitment, but then you actually have to figure out which books to read. Some are a must — David McCullough’s “John Adams” or Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Lincoln epic “Team of Rivals.” But do you really want to read hundreds of pages about Benjamin Harrison? If not, the American Presidents Series, first begun by Arthur M. Schlesinger, is a solid fallback option that offers short (often fewer than 200 pages) primers on almost every commander-in-chief.Here’s my list. I’m currently stuck on Hoover, but hope to get back in gear come spring.
1. “His Excellency: George Washington” by Joseph J. Ellis
2. “John Adams” by David McCullough
3. “The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson” by Kevin J. Hayes
4. “James Madison: A Biography” by Ralph Ketcham
5. “The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation’s Call to Greatness” by Harlow Giles Unger
6. “John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, a Private Life” by Paul C. Nagel
7. “American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House” by Jon Meacham
8. “Martin Van Buren: The American Presidents Series” by Ted Widmer
9. “William Henry Harrison: The American Presidents Series” by Gail Collins
10. “John Tyler: The Accidental President” by Edward P. Crapol
11. “Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America” by Walter R. Borneman
12. “Zachary Taylor: The American Presidents Series” by John S. Eisenhower
13. “Millard Fillmore: The American Presidents Series” by Paul Finkelman
14. “Franklin Pierce: The American Presidents Series” by Michael F. Holt
15. “James Buchanan: The American Presidents Series” by Jean H. Baker
16. “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin
17. “Andrew Johnson: The American Presidents Series” by Annette Gordon-Reed
18. “Grant: A Biography” by William S. McFeely
19. “Rutherford B. Hayes: Warrior and President” by Ari Hoogenboom
20. “Garfield: A Biography” by Allen Peskin
21. “Gentleman Boss: The Life of Chester Alan Arthur” by Thomas C. Reeves
22. “The Forgotten Conservative: Rediscovering Grover Cleveland” by John M. Pafford
23. “Benjamin Harrison: The American Presidents Series” by Charles W. Calhoun
24. “William McKinley and His America” by H. Wayne Morgan
25. “Colonel Roosevelt” by Edmund Morris
26. “William Howard Taft: The Travails of a Progressive Conservative” by Jonathan Lurie
27. “Wilson” by A. Scott Berg
28. “The Shadow of Blooming Grove: Warren G. Harding in His Times” by Francis Russell.
29. “Coolidge” by Amity Shlaes
30. “The Life of Herbert Hoover: Fighting Quaker, 1928-1933” by Glen Jeansonne
31. “FDR” by Jean Edward Smith
32. “Truman” by David McCullough
33. “Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World” by Evan Thomas
34. “An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963” by Robert Dallek
35. “Lyndon B. Johnson: Portrait of a President” by Robert Dallek
36. “Just Plain Dick: Richard Nixon’s Checkers Speech and the ‘Rocking, Socking’ Election of 1952” by Kevin Mattison
37. “Gerald Ford: An Honorable Life” by James Cannon and Scott Cannon
38. “Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter” by Randall Balmer
39. “President Reagan: The Role Of A Lifetime” by Lou Cannon
40. “Being Poppy: A Portrait of George Herbert Walker Bush” by Richard Ben Cramer
41. “The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton” by Joe Klein
42. “The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment” by Julian E. Zelizer
43. “Barack Obama: The Story” by David Maraniss