July 20, 2011

Fun Family History Books for Summer Reading

With summer in full swing, it’s a good time to have a book on hand to take to the pool, the park, or on vacation. These three books make great choices, whether you need something you can pick up when time allows or relax with on a leisurely day:

1.   Only a Few Bones: A True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy and Its Aftermath, by John Philip Colletta
On March 4, 1873, the Ring & Co. store in Rolling Fork Landing in the Mississippi Delta mysteriously burned to the ground, claiming the lives of five people, including Joe Ring. In its aftermath, Joe’s widow and sons experienced more tragedy, and his brother George Ring withstood accusations of arson. Using evidence obtained in over 30 years of research, Colletta meticulously reconstructs the story, testing hypotheses and ultimately forming his own conclusion about what really happened. A perfect blend of mystery, history, and family lore.

2.   The Journey Takers, by Leslie Albrecht Huber
Weaving the history of her immigrant ancestors around the story of her quest to discover that history, Huber brings readers along for the journey. She vividly recounts finding her ancestors’ records and traveling to the places they lived. She effectively recreates their voyages from Germany, England, and Sweden to Utah—all set against the backdrop of her own growth from student to motherhood. Huber uses historical and social detail to imagine what her forbearers felt, looked like, and might have said, creating an interesting and engaging family history.

3.   Family, by Ian Frazier
Cleaning out his parents’ house sparks a journey of historical self-discovery for Frazier. He follows in his ancestors’ footsteps as they moved to Ohio, founded the town of Norwalk, served in the Civil War, went through temperance and Prohibition, and vacationed on the shores of Lake Erie. He sprinkles in some of his own childhood memories and contemporary impressions, effectively drawing the reader into his stories. Frazier’s deep appreciation of the everyday lives and contributions of his ancestors is evident throughout the book.

All of these books are available on Amazon.com (disclaimer: I am not an Amazon affiliate—though I’m considering becoming one—and purchased my own copies of the books. I bought Only a Few Bones from Maia’s Books, which I highly recommend.) Next on my family history reading list is Searching for Ichabod: His Eighteenth Century Diary Leads Me Home. I met the author, Julie Foster Van Camp, at the 2010 National Genealogical Society Conference, and she was delightful. What’s on your list? Do you have a favorite family history book that I haven’t mentioned here? 


  1. Oh, good list! I saw John Colletta speak at Jamboree and have wanted this book since then. I loved The Journey Takers. The Ian Frazier book sounds good, too. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I am behind, I haven't even read The Journey Takers yet! I hope some of these can be bought for my Nook!

  3. Great list... but too bad none of these come in NookBook format. I'm trying to cut down on the number of "real" books I buy, or we're going to have to move into a bigger house!


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