google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html What's On Your Summer Reading List? | The Armchair Genealogist

What's On Your Summer Reading List?


Summer is officially here.  For me that means time with family, vacations and Barbecues.  I also love to take some time during these warm weather months to a get a little extra reading done.  I love creating a reading list of books for the summer months.  Books I can absorb in my lounger, with a tall cool drink while enjoying our few short months of semi-tropical weather in the Great White North.

 I have been preparing my list of summer books, some of them genealogy/family history based books, some of them not so much.  I do have other interests besides family history (surprisingly).
 I think I need a few more to fill in the weeks ahead, so here is what’s on my list, if anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear from you. 

What is on your summer reading list?

I usually like to read novels based on family history.  I love to see how other writers have taken their ancestor’s stories and turned them into books. For this reason, I will be reading the following

Oh, Beautiful: An American Family in the 20th CenturyOh Beautiful; An American Family in the 20th Century by John Paul Godges - I have recently downloaded this to my Kindle. However, I understand the hard copy is a physically beautiful book.  If you’re a book junkie, this might be one worth picking up.

Shaking the Family Tree: Blue Bloods, Black Sheeps and Other Obsessions of an Accidental Genealogist by Buzzy Jackson - Buzzy takes a look at her own family tree and the obsessive world of genealogists. I think I will find this one highly relatable.

The Journey Takers by Leslie Albrecht Huber - The author traces her ancestor’s journeys from Germany, England and Sweden to the US.

I will then turn my thoughts to historical fiction. For obvious seasons, as a family historian I like history.  I know, historical fiction is not history, but it does transport you back to a time and place that we as family historians love to ponder and usually with a great story attached.  From a writer’s perspective, I like to compare the writing of a family history story to historical fiction. I’m interested in marrying the two mediums. For this reason, my historical fiction read this summer will be...

Fall of Giants (The Century Trilogy)Fall of Giants by Ken Follett - It’s a big book weighing in at 985 pages and the first in a trilogy so I will leave it at the one for now. 

In addition, to encourage the writer in me.....

The Writing LifeThe Writing Life by Annie Dillard - this is not a how to writing book but more of the authors account of what it’s like to live day in and day as a writer, not as romantic as you think.  Annie Dillard has written eleven books, including the memoir of her parents, An American Childhood; the Northwest pioneer epic The Living; and the nonfiction narrative Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Based on the above novels, I think Annie Dillard represents a great learning example for family history writers. You can in fact get three of her most popular novels in a collection:  Three by Annie Dillard; An America Childhood; The Writing Life, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

I have a few others on list, as part of my book club. Just some good fiction, I am currently reading The Kitchen House

I also hope to get to The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar- Author Robert Alexander re-creates the story of the final days of Nicholas and Alexandra as seen through the eyes of their kitchen boy. 

Finally, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand – A story about an unlikely relationship between a retired Major and a local shopkeeper of Pakistani descendant set in a small England town. 

What’s on your summer reading list? Anything you would like to share.

9 comments:

  1. An historical book that I would highly recommended is 'Blood on the Tracks' by Cecelia Holland. It is about the great railroad strike of 1877. This is not about something we learned in history many years ago. After reading it you will know why. I had never heard of this issue before reading it.

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  2. An epic "historical fiction" book that I read last summer is "Mists of Avalon" by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It's an interesting twist on the traditional King Arthur tale, told from the women's perspectives. I hope to continue reading the prequels (although they aren't nearly as good - so far I'd only suggest "The Forest House" if you want to read more).

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  3. Thanks guys they both sound great. I will definitely check them out.

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  4. Just finished "Caleb's Crossing" by Geraldine Brooks - wonderful! Also loved her "People of the Book".

    Thanks for sharing you list - there are a number I am rushing over to Amazon to check out ~ 'cause I need more books ;-)

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  5. I'm reading The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson.

    http://www.amazon.com/Warmth-Other-Suns-Americas-Migration/dp/0679444327

    After that I plan on reading Spencer's Mountain and The Homecoming, both by Earl Hamner, Jr. After all, it was the character John-Boy Walton who first got me interested in researching and writing about family when I was just a young girl in the 1970s.

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  6. @Debra, oh my gosh, The Homecoming,I will have to grab that one. I loved the Walton's and I have to agree with you although I didn't realize it at the time, I thought the history and family stories were fascinating and certainly influenced me.

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  7. I also recommend "Caleb's Crossing"-all of Brooks' books are great! "Annie's Ghosts" a non-fiction book by Steve Luxenberg about his family was wonderful. A good historical fiction about a woman who wants to become a surgeon during the Civil War is "My name is Mary Sutter" by Robin Oliveira. On my list for the summer is "Only a few bones" by John Philip Colletta and Buzzy Jackson's book.

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  8. @Bobbi, I read My name is Mary Sutter last summer and really enjoyed it. Thanks for the suggestions, I will check them out.

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  9. A lot of great suggestions here. I didn't get to join in until now. I'm trying to read a combo of fiction and non fiction: Just finished Solar by Ian McEwan, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen; coming up: Shadow Man, a memoir about her father and "Circling my Mother" both by Mary Gordon. I've ordered a couple of the ones you mentioned, Lynn -- Oh Beautiful, Shaking the Family Tree & Journey Takers. I'm especially interested in the first one as it covers the 20th century and the author's family member's interaction with various historical events -- a similar approach to what I hope to do. I also want to read "Oh, the Glory of it All," another beautifully written (but long) memoir. So much to read. so little time!

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