It's been about 6 months since I wrote about the books I've been reading, and how they fit into my understanding of the lives our ancestors lived. Here are some of the books I've read over the last 6 months. You might enjoy reading one or more of them.
Probably my favorite, for personal reasons was Serving the Pieces, by Edward V Walsh. It was written by a man who served with my father in World War II, and told almost a day by day story of their time in the Army, from boot camp to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to fighting in France and Germany. Dad never talked much about his war experiences, but he said enough that I could recognize some of the places and experiences. Needless to say, I learned a lot and came away with a new appreciation of the word "sacrifice". Another book that helped put my Dad's experience in perspective was Christmas 1945 by Matthew Litt. Again, it resonated because I'd heard Dad's story about how he almost got home for Christmas, but I didn't understand the story behind his story.
Some of the books I've read go back to the beginning of our country, like Island at the Center of the World, by Russell Shorto. Basically all I knew about the earliest days of New York City was the $24 sale of Manhattan, and it turns out that wasn't accurate, but there's much more to know. Although I didn't find any ancestors mentioned by name in the book, we know that our ancestors were there by 1650, so I was reading about friends and neighbors of our ancestors.
I've read about the Revolutionary War in Bunker Hill by Nathaniel Philbrick and Almost a Miracle by John Ferling. I've also started learning a bit about the War of 1812 by reading 1812 by Walter Bomerman and The Battles at Plattsburgh by Keith A Herkalo.
Since there are so many German ancestors, I've learned a little of what their life was like in one of the German states, by reading Hopeful Journeys by Aaron Fogleman (I think we're related, but can't yet prove it) and Our Daily Bread: German VIllage Life 1500-1850 by Teva J Scheer. Each of these books told a lot of information, but the second is possibly more readable.
I do love to read historical fiction, too, with a heavy emphasis on the historical. Probably my favorite author at the moment is Elizabeth Chadwick, and I've read her books The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion, which are about two of my all time favorite ancestors, William Marshall and Isabel Fitzgilbert de Clare. I've also read Sharon Kay Penman's Lionheart. I have more books by each author, and am looking forward to reading them, as well as many others. So many books, so little time!
A genealogy society speaker once suggested that we read books that were intended for children or young adults, to get a good flavor of a time period in a short amount of precious reading time. That was an excellent suggestion. One that I read was The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare, which I didn't quite remember from my childhood. I loved the details about colonial Connecticut in that book. I have a couple of other books on my Kindle that I hope I'll enjoy just as much, and just as quickly, and I'm keeping my eye out for more.
If you're interested in learning more about the live and times of our ancestors, try some of these ideas. They help put life in the facts I usually write about.