Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Summertime Reading for the Family Historian

UK magazine Family Tree published a list of 5 books all family historians should take on holiday.

While I dislike "should" the suggested book are mostly ones I'd not read. The first two on the list are more light poolside or beach-reading fare than the others.

Dadland, published in 2017 by Keggie Carew is described as "part-family memoir, part-war story ... a loving tribute to her extraordinary father who, as he began losing his past to dementia, she was fighting to retrieve it." Read The Guardian review.

Common People: The History of an English Family by Alison Light – a wonderful family-cum-social history featuring Victorian ancestors with incredible warmth and insight into human behaviour through the generations. The Guardian review ends "Light's final wish for her book is that it will encourage others to write their family history as a public history ... However, it is possible to finish her book wishing the opposite: that a historian and critic of her rare gifts would leave family history to the dabblers, and write us, for instance, a literary and cultural history of the workhouse, with her personal passion as background, not foreground."

The other books on the list seem out of place as summer reading. The presence on the list of Ethical Dilemmas in Genealogy by Dr. Penny Walters motivates me to attend the panel session she will be part of at RootsTech London.

Adding my own suggestion, Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love
by Dani Shapiro I borrowed from the OPL and devoured unusually quickly. It's another example of discovery using DNA. Read the New York Times review.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I bought and read the first two Dadland and Common Poeple. They were OK, but nothing special. I have kept but not reread either since I read them.

I read almost exclusively academic history, historical biographies, memoires, historical diaries and collections of letters. More modern memoires such as these don't cut it with me. Cheers anyway, BT