I love books. Books are my lifelong obsession. I started working at the local library when I was 15 years old. My house is full of books and I run two virtual book clubs. It’s no surprise that I read quite a bit. I not only buy books but I borrow them from local libraries via the Libby app. And since I never want to miss an opportunity to read I have physical books and an eReader always at close reach.
It’s July and here in Southern California it’s getting hot, so it’s a good time to sit in the air conditioning and read. Right now I’m spending time reading about 19th century American women’s lives, old regional recipes, and various social history topics. It’s also a good time to study a specific topic that will help your genealogy research or to delve into a pile of novels that provide some escapism during a much-needed time.
Because I love books I thought it would be great if we had a blog “book club meeting” where we share what we are reading. This provides all of us an opportunity to discover our next must-reads. Instead of a meeting at a specific time and place, this meeting is right here on the blog so you can “attend” whenever is best for you. The comments section below will serve as the place for our discussion and sharing. That way we can all benefit from learning about what everyone else is reading.
My Current Bookshelf
What am I reading? I have quite a few books that I‘m studying right now but let me share three titles:
Bold Spirit: Helga Estby’s Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America by Linda Lawrence Hunt. One of my favorite books, this is the story of a woman and her daughter who answer a challenge to be the first women to walk across the United States. With the hope of a financial reward that will help their family, Helga and her daughter set out in 1896 to walk from Washington state to New York. This book is an important read for researchers because it’s also the story of how a woman who did something amazing was pretty much forgotten and how family stories are silenced. Thanks to the essay of a young descendant coupled with the research of the author, Helga’s experience walking across the United States is documented. I can’t recommend this book enough. I have loved it since I first read it years ago.
One of the best presentations I ever heard at a conference was about the London cholera epidemic and how Dr. John Snow solved that mystery. The Ghost Map: The Story of Lund’s Most Terrifying Epidemic-and How it Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson tells that story. “It’s the summer of 1854, and London is seized by a violent outbreak of cholera that no one know how to stop. As the epidemic spreads, a maverick physician and a local curate are spurred in action, working to solve the most pressing medical riddle of their time…” That conference presentation I heard so many years ago is what helped me realize that combining social history with genealogy was what I was passionate about. I’m looking forward to learning more about this story of cholera and its effect on our ancestors.
One of my latest book purchases is The Art of the Jewish Family: A History of Women in Early New York in Five Objects by Laura Arnold Leibman. Lucky for me one of my book clubs includes meetings where we just sit and discuss what we are currently reading and one of our members shared this book with us. It combines material culture and female ancestors, so what’s not to like? It is beautifully illustrated with color images of the items discussed and you can find YouTube videos of the author presenting on her research. “In order to rethink early Jewish American women’s lives, The Art of the Jewish Family examines five objects owned by Jewish women who lived at least a portion of their lives in early New York between 1750 and 1850. Each chapter creates a biography of a single woman through her object, but also uses her story to shed light on the larger changes in Jewish American women’s lives.” This work focuses on using archival research to recreate women’s lives. An important topic for genealogists.
Now It’s Your Turn
I’m reading more than the three books mentioned above including some cookbooks but I want to hear about what you’re reading. Use the comments below and share what you’re reading or some of your recent favorites. Are your book choices of late strictly for fun or have they helped you with your research? What was an important take-away from what you read?
I’m looking forward to hearing about your summer reads!