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My Progress:

10 / 30 books. 33% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
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My Progress:

18 / 51 states. 35% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

13 / 50 books. 26% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

20 / 50 books. 40% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

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38 / 50 books. 76% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

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33 / 52 books. 63% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

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23 / 40 books. 57% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

13 / 40 books. 33% done!

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5 / 25 books. 20% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

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24 / 26.2 miles. 92% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

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19 / 100 books. 19% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

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49 / 104 books. 47% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

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39 / 52 books. 75% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

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44 / 165 books. 27% done!
Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Fact or Fiction, I Love a Good Family History Story!

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic is all about our dream jobs—or at least those that look fun, exciting, and interesting in fiction.  The prompt, Top Ten Characters Whose Job I Wish I Had, has left me scratching my head, though.  I guess it's just too early in the morning for my brain to match up characters from books I enjoyed or books I want to read with jobs I wish I had.  Probably I'm being too literal.  Although I have a college degree in English, my oldest child was born prematurely (at 29 weeks gestation) not long after graduation.  I have been a stay-at-home mom ever since.  While it's hardly the most glamorous career choice in the world, I've found a lot of satisfaction and fulfillment in being able to focus on motherhood full-time.  I do feel less needed now that my oldest two are on their own and my youngest two are in school all day, but I still don't feel any great longing to enter the workforce.  The other day, my husband was joking about me getting a full-time job so he could retire (he's 44).  Our 16-year-old son, who's usually pretty "whatever" about things, looked appalled at the idea and said, "What?  No!  I need you at home, Mom."  So, there you go.  I've been working my dream job for over 22 years now and, all in all, it's been pretty great.  Still, wiping runny noses and changing dirty diapers isn't the stuff of which great fiction is made, so...

If I could choose another dream job, it would for sure be that of a professional reader.  Since book blogging is pretty darn close, I have to say that I'm actually already "working" two of my dream "jobs."  Wow!  

That brings us to family history, which has long been an interest of mine.  A couple years ago, I made the decision to become accredited as a professional genealogist.  While you don't technically need any kind of certification to work in the field, especially as a self-employed researcher, I thought it would be a fun, challenging way to up my genealogy game. And it has been.  I completed two big research projects in two different specialty areas (the Great Lakes and the Southwest regions of the U.S.) and now all I have to do is test in both.  This was supposed to have happened a year ago, but thanks to COVID, it's been postponed.  In the meantime, I've continued researching my own ancestors in an ongoing effort to know and understand those who came before me and to keep my family history sleuthing skills sharp.  One way I do this is by attending RootsTech—the world's largest family history conference—which is held annually in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Because of the pandemic, this year's event was held entirely online and was, for the first time ever, completely free.  Even though the conference has ended, the classes and presentations that were given are still available online, meaning you can watch them right now.  If you've ever wanted to learn more about how to research your own family history straight from industry professionals, this is your chance to do it from the comfort of your own home and without spending a dime.  Click on over to for more details.


If you have any desire at all to know about your roots, I highly recommend checking out FamilySearch.  It's a free, easy-to-use genealogy website where you can build a family tree, connect it to others that are already in its enormous database (chances are excellent that your great-grandparents and beyond are in there, meaning you won't have to do extensive research to find them), and use historical records (millions of which are available to search on the site for free) to learn more about their lives.  Although my illustrious ancestors were more pauper than prince, I have found it extremely rewarding to get to know them and connect to my heritage.  

I know it seems I've meandered far away from books, but I promise this is going somewhere!  Obviously, I love learning about family history—from reading stories about my ancestors to studying old documents to Nancy Drew-ing my way through puzzling mysteries, I'm here for it all.  Not surprisingly, I also enjoy reading books about genealogy.  I've found a few that star genealogists and a lot more that feature characters who are looking into their own pasts in order to solve a mystery, understand an enigmatic family member, connect with a lost culture, or find themselves in their own pasts.  My list today is gong to be a mixture of books I've read and those I want to read about genealogy and family history.  

However you want to twist the TTT topic, you definitely want to join in the fun.  All the details are over at That Artsy Reader Girl.  Check it out.

Top Ten Books About Genealogy and Family History:  

Five I've Read—

1.  The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissmann—I read this middle grade novel earlier this year and loved it.  It's about a mixed-race girl who was adopted as a baby by a white Jewish couple.  As she prepares for her upcoming bat mitzvah, she begins studying the life of her adoptive great-grandmother, who fled her European homeland during World War II.  This propels the girl on a journey to discover who she really is and where she truly belongs.  It's an excellent, moving book about identity and family.

2.  Murder Once Removed by S.C. Perkins—This cozy mystery series features a professional genealogist who solves family history mysteries as a job.  In this first installment, she's been hired by a Texas billionaire to find the murderer of his great-great granddaddy.  Although I didn't absolutely love this book, it's still a fun read.  There are a couple more books in the series now—I need to catch up.

3.  Inheritance by Dani Shapiro—In this memoir, Shapiro recounts what happened when a DNA test she took returned unexpected results.  The journey she then undertook to find and understand her true identity is an intriguing one that asks important questions about family, identity, culture, and the ethics of sperm donation.  It's fascinating.

4.  It's All Relative by A.J. Jacobs—I heard Jacobs speak at RootsTech in 2015 after he published this book about his quest to find his roots.  It's a hilarious, entertaining read that any genealogy addict will enjoy. 

5.  The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton—I'm a huge fan of Morton's multi-layered family sagas for lots of reasons.  This one concerns a young girl who is taken in by a tender-hearted old man when she arrives alone in Australia without anyone to retrieve her.  She's raised by the man and his wife, without knowing she's not their biological child.  When she finds out, she sets out on a journey to find out who she really is.

Five I Want to Read—

1.  The Lost by Daniel Mendelsohn—Stephanie over at She's Probably at the Library recommended this book about the author's search for his family's Holocaust story.  The way she described his painstaking research process made me especially interested in reading this heavy tome that Stephanie says is heartbreaking but fascinating.  

2.  Under the Light of the Italian Moon by Jennifer Anton (available March 8, 2021)—Based on the author's own family history, this novel tells the story of one woman's resilience during World War II in Italy.

3.  Send For Me by Lauren Fox—This dual-timeline novel concerns a woman who finds her grandmother's letters from World War II Germany, which propels her on a journey into her family's tragic past.  Have I mentioned that I've got a thing for family history?

4.  Paging the Dead by Brynn Bonner—The first installment in a family history mystery series, this one has the professional genealogist main character investigating a murder in order to clear her own name.  Sounds fun!

5.  The Lost Family by Libby Copeland—This book, which examines DNA results and family history research, has gotten some good buzz.  I'm definitely interested in reading it.

There you go, ten books about family history/genealogy that I've read and want to read.  Which books of this type have you enjoyed?  I'd truly love to know.  Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!

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