12 March 2012

Recommended Reading etc. (The Reader GeneaMeme)

I have been meaning to write about books that I recommend for family history, so when Jill (Geniaus) invited us all to take part in The Reader GeneaMeme, I decided to join in.
  1. Have you written any books? Yes - several editions of Tips for Queensland Research and also Specialist Indexes in Australia: a Genealogist's Guide (described on my Web site). In the 1980s I wrote a history of my Webster family. It was very plain - just typed, photocopied, bound by hand and distributed to relatives - but it had full source citations, an index and a bibliography.

  2. Have you published any books? As above, plus many indexes to Archives sources (also described on my Web site).

  3. Can you recommend an inspiring biography? Weevils in the Flour: an Oral Record of the 1930s Depression in Australia, by Wendy Lowenstein, is a fascinating and inspiring collection of people's memories. This should be on every family historian's must-read list. If it's not available from The Book Depository, try Abe Books.

  4. Do you keep a reading log? If yes, in what format? I had a notebook where I listed every book I read, but I rarely use it now. I do have a database where I keep track of genealogy books and CDs that I buy (so I don't double up).

  5. Are you a buyer or a borrower of books? I buy genealogy reference books that I need to consult frequently, but otherwise I borrow from a library. Sometimes I persuade my local library to buy a book that I can't afford, or I borrow it via interlibrary loan or buy a pre-loved copy.

  6. Where do you get reading recommendations? Family and friends; genealogy magazines; blogs; reviews and flyers in Qld FHS journals; librarian's suggestions; bookshop signs ('If you like Author.A you may also like Author.B').

  7. What is the one genealogy reference book you can't do without? There are two: Ancestral Trails: The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History by Mark D. Herber, and Google Your Family Tree by Daniel M. Lynch.

  8. Do you hoard books or do you discard them when you have finished? I hoard books that I really enjoyed, and give the others to a charity shop.

  9. How many books are in your genealogy library? Over four hundred.

  10. What's your favourite genealogy magazine or journal? For Australia: 'Inside History' magazine. For the UK: 'Who Do You Think You Are' magazine.

  11. Where are the bookshelves in your house? I have a 6'x6' pine bookcase in the study, a small one in my bedroom, and in the lounge and dining room I have two hand crafted beefwood bookcases that my father made from a tree on the grazing property where we lived.

  12. Do you read e-books? How? I have read a few PDF e-books on my computer.

  13. How many library cards do you have? Brisbane City Council libraries, State Library of Queensland and National Library of Australia, plus family history societies. (Check whether you have free access to Findmypast, Ancestry, Gale newspapers etc at your local Council library.)

  14. What was the last genealogy title you read? Sassy Jane's Guide to Organizing Your Genealogical Research Using Archival Principles by Nancy E. Loe, which I recommend. It has chapters on 'Top ten organizing ideas you can borrow from archivists', 'Controlled vocabulary', 'Organizing digital files', 'Managing paper files' and 'Citing records'. I downloaded it as a 40-page PDF e-book for just $5.

  15. What is your favourite bookshop? The Book Cafe, Garden City Shopping Centre, Upper Mount Gravatt, Brisbane.

  16. Do you have a traditional printed encyclopaedia in your house? Yes. It belonged to my parents. It's from the 1960s, but it often provides an answer faster than an online search would.

  17. Who are the authors in your family tree and what have they written? Best known = The Second Fleet: Britain's grim convict armada of 1790 by Michael Flynn, my sixth cousin (we are descendants of James PORTER and his wife Catherine HARLEY). Most unusual = books on art and mathematics (combined!) by my fourth cousin Mike Field (our connection is through James WEBSTER and Mary GIBLETT).

  18. Who is your favourite author? (Just one? Impossible!) For genealogy (in addition to those mentioned above): Michael Gandy, Elizabeth Shown Mills and Colin D. Rogers. For recreational reading: Douglas Adams, Lillian Beckwith, Jon Cleary, Jeffery Deaver, Martha Grimes, Ngaio Marsh.

  19. Where do you buy books? I buy lots of history, genealogy, reference and fiction books at the LifeLine Bookfest. I also buy direct from societies and Archives, and (if local businesses do not stock the title I want) from The Book Depository or Gould Genealogy.

  20. Can you nominate a must-read fiction title? Any and every book by Ngaio Marsh.

  21. How many books are in your personal library? About six hundred, plus genealogy books, but my personal collection needs to be culled because I have too many books stored in boxes.

  22. What is your dictionary of choice? Concise Oxford Dictionary.

  23. Where do you read? In my lounge, on the patio in the sun, and on planes.

  24. What was your favourite childhood book? Green Grass of Wyoming (Mary O'Hara).

  25. Do you have anything else to say about books and reading? (1) A child who loves reading can look forward to a lifetime of never being bored. (2) If you write a book, remember to send Legal Deposit copies. A friend of mine didn't, and he received a letter of demand.
My Web site has a select list of books that I recommend for family history.


  1. great list of recommendations thanks Judy

  2. Thanks for hthe links here Judy. Great info

    1. Jen, I'm glad you found it helpful. I enjoyed reading the blog post with your suggestions too.

  3. My pleasure, Kerryn. If you decide to respond to these 25 questions yourself, put the link in a comment on Jill's post at Geniaus.

  4. Thanks, Judy, for such a detailed post. I now have a few more titles to add to my 'to read' list. I'll add your and Jennifer's contribution to the list shortly.

    I appreciate your support for the geneamemes.

    1. You're welcome, Jill. I am very interested in YOUR answers to the questions too. Did I miss that, or will you be writing it when you come home from your travels?

  5. Thanks for this great list of suggested reading Judy. Looking up some of these titles now. Thanks again.

  6. I am delighted to know that you found it helpful. Thanks for taking the time to add a comment.

  7. You've reminded me I need to go and download my Sassy Jane book. Thanks for the other tips too, Judy -you've just demonstrated one of the ways we learn about new books ;-) Totally agree that encouraging children to read is a pivotal thing to do and will give them lifelong pleasure. I am always bewildered when I go into a house with no books. Judgemental I know, but there you go.

    1. Books were a very important part of my childhood. I grew up out in the bush, 45 miles from town, with no TV, very limited radio reception, and just my parents and sisters for company. (We did grades 1 to 7 through the Primary Correspondence School.) My parents borrowed some books by mail, and bought some through a book club, and our Christmas gifts always included books. When the road to Cunnamulla was sealed and we could go to town more often, we joined the Paroo Shire Council library. That was my first experience of a library, and I loved it!

  8. Weevils in the Flour contains an interview with Dorothy Seabrook - a member of my extended family.

    1. How exciting, Sharon. Did you know about that before the book was published?


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