27    May 20080 comments

Books, books, books

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Wherever we look, there are increasing numbers of books somehow related to aspects of genealogy.

Whether they are family mysteries or historically-focused, there are many books already out that can provide insight into family history research. Readers can expect even more in the way of entertainment as well as reference books.

The younger generations are also getting into the act. North Carolina resident Amanda Burns, 17, started writing "Remember the Dance: The Story of Nora Shanahan" a few years ago when she researched her Irish ancestors on both sides who eventually settled in North Carolina.

The story centers around 15-year-old Nora Shanahan, an Irish girl living in the 1840s during the Irish Potato Famine, caused by a fungus that decimated much of the island country's potato crop.

The New York Times detailed a 2005 book by Carole Cadwalladr, "The Family Tree," about an English family over three generations. It covers DNA, multi-ethnicity, family secrets and much more, all tied together, as the main character says:

''I've been thinking about the trees again. You remember. The trees in the back garden. . . . It's like a family tree, of course. I don't know why I didn't think of that before.''

"Above the door frame is a long, narrow plaque of enameled metal. The black letters set against a white background say Central Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths," is the first line in"All the Names," (Harcourt, 2000) by Nobel Prize-winning author Jose Saramago.

The book won the Weidenfeld Translation Prize for Margaret Jull Costa's translation from Portuguese. It is the story of a low-level clerk in a government office that records births and deaths. When he comes across the birth certificate for a mysterious woman, he becomes strangely obsessed with finding out more about her.

"The Family Tree," (Serpent's Tail, 1991) by Margo Glantz, was originally written in Spanish (1881) and covers her family's dual heritage from pre-revolutionary Russia, immigration to Mexico and intertwining memories of different ways of life.

Are you into murder mysteries? "Death on the Family Tree," by Patricia Sprinkle, hinges on family secrets. The details include priceless jewelry, a German diary, a previously unknown family branch, a burglary and two murders. Some characters have done family history research, another has checked a US census and even uses her own computer to find records.

For a great list of new books on aspects of family history, genealogy and local history, here's a website that lists books in print (back to 2004) as well as those to be published in the future. "What's New in Family History, Genealogy & Local History Books" can be accessed here.

Among reference works available next winter: "Place Names of Illinois" (University of Illinois Press, November 2008) by Edward Callary of Northern Illinois University will detail the origins of names of 3,000 Illinois communities."

"Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs: A Historical Guide," edited by Ann Durkin Keating of North Central College and coeditor, The Encyclopedia of Chicago. (University of Chicago Press, December 2008). This claims to be a comprehensive, cross-referenced compendium on all 77 community areas, suburbs and neighborhoods (past and present).

There is an entire site, compiled by the Librarians Serving Genealogists list of genealogy-oriented novels, including mysteries, science fiction, hystorical fiction, children/young adults and unclassified here

And if you'd like to try writing your own history, try GenWriters.com, by Phyllis Matthews Ziller, MLIS, which offers many guides, resourcesfor research and social history, writing resources, a page of handy books to investigate, a bibliography of genealogical reference books, a bibliography of family history writing guides, and even a section on genealogy resources for children.

Have you read a book with a genealogical twist to it? Why not tell us all about it? I always look forward to receiving your comments.

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