Saturday, September 24, 2016

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Books Do You Read?

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge was suggested to Randy Seaver by Jacquie Schattner, who gave us last week's inspiration also.

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible music, please!):

What kind of books do you read now and do they reflect your genealogy hobby? What was the last book you’ve read?

(2)  Share your response in a comment on this blog post, in your own blog post (and provide a link in a comment on this post), or on Facebook or Google+.

I'm sure this will sound odd to many people who know I'm an editor, but I don't read books that much.  When I started working as an editor, reading for pleasure went right out the window.  So many books nowadays are so poorly edited, it pains me to plow through them.  So almost everything I read is nonfiction, which often still has editing problems, but not to the extent that fiction does.

One of the most recent books I read all the way through (I actually read it twice) was The Black Russian by Vladimir Alexandrov, about a son of former slaves in the United States who decided he could find more freedom and better opportunities by leaving the country.  He went to Europe and eventually became a Russian citizen.  The author used a wide selection of archival resources for his research, which I particularly enjoyed.

I'm still trying to finish Avenue of Spies by Alex Kershaw, about a non-Jewish couple in Paris during World War II who helped the Resistance.  The story is interesting and the writing style is good, but I stalled halfway.

The last book I read, earlier this year, was Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language by Nora Ellen Groce.  Last year I began taking American Sign Language classes after 25 years of having dropped them, and this book was recommended to me by my teacher.  It was interesting both from a linguistic perspective and from a genealogical one, as the author researched the family links to determine who the original deaf inhabitant of Martha's Vineyard was who passed the hereditary deafness down to his descendants.

When I do read fiction, it's almost always mysteries.  Many years ago I was up to about the letter M or N in the Sue Grafton alphabet mystery series, even though two of the first three books had serious plot flaws.  And then I wasn't working with the person from whom I had been borrowing the books, so that fizzled out.  When I was younger, I read everything written by Agatha Christie, Erle Stanley Gardner, Ellery Queen, Rex Stout, and a few others.  I also made it through all of the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift, and some other series for kids.

Most of what I read currently, however, is reference books, and I'm not usually reading them all the way through, just looking for the information needed at the time.  That obviously does reflect on my genealogy hobby.


  1. Great post! I see some authors and titles I will add to my wish list. If you like fluff mysteries to unwind occasionally may I suggest Elizabeth Peter's series on Amelia Peabody. It is a fun series. As usual the link to mine post this week is over at Randy's original challenge post.

    1. Thanks for the suggestions. It never hurts to have a list of names to look for.


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