Summer Reads for Family Researchers & Genealogists

Nothing quite says “Summer” like taking a good book to the pool, a park, your favorite coffee shop, or the comfort of your own front porch.

A good book is an easy and cost-effective way to take some much-needed time for yourself, to learn something new or even travel back in time.

If it seems like there are too many good history and genealogy books out there to choose from, we can help. Simply select one from our Top 5 Summer 2021 Must-Reads, which are popular with family researchers, historians, and genealogists.

Pick up a copy at your local library or bookstore; request a copy through your library’s bookmobile service, if available; or order a copy through one of the major online bookstores or Amazon.

In The Blood (A Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery), by Steven Robinson. Two hundred years ago a loyalist family fled to England to escape the American War of Independence and seemingly vanished into thin air. American genealogist Jefferson Tayte is hired to find out what happened, but it soon becomes apparent that a calculated killer is out to stop him. Tayte’s research centers around the tragic life of a young Cornish girl, a writing box, and the discovery of a dark secret that he believes will lead him to the family he is looking for. Trouble is, someone else is looking for the same answers and will stop at nothing to find them.

The Forgotten Garden, a novel by Kate Morton. New York Times Best Seller. The premise of this book was inspired by Kate’s own family history. A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book—a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her 21st birthday, they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and very little to go on, ‘Nell’ sets out to trace her real identity.

Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline. New York Times Best Seller. The novel intertwines the stories of Vivian and Molly. Vivian is an Irish girl who lost her family in New York City and was forced to ride the ‘orphan train’ to find a new home. Decades later, the aged Vivian meets a teenager, Molly, who is struggling to find identity and happiness in the modern foster care system

Survivors: Children’s lives after The Holocaust, by Rebecca Clifford. Shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2021. How can we make sense of our lives when we do not know where we come from? This was a pressing question for the youngest survivors of the Holocaust, whose prewar memories were vague or nonexistent. In this beautifully written account, Rebecca Clifford follows the lives of 100 Jewish children out of the ruins of conflict through their adulthood and into old age. Challenging our assumptions about trauma, Clifford’s powerful and surprising narrative helps us understand what it was like living after, and living with, childhoods marked by rupture and loss.

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage to the Antarctic, by Alfred Lansing. In August 1914, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton boarded the Endurance and set sail for Antarctica, where he planned to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. In January 1915, after battling its way through 1,000 miles of pack ice and only a day’s sail short of its destination, the Endurance became locked in an island of ice. Thus began the legendary ordeal of Shackleton and his crew of 27 men. When their ship was finally crushed between two ice floes, they attempted a near-impossible journey over 850 miles of the South Atlantic’s heaviest seas to the closest outpost of civilization.

If you’ve already read one of these titles, would you recommend it to a friend? Share your comments below.

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