Well friends, it’s time to hit the road. Pack those bags, book your airbnb accommodations, and seek those elusive genealogy records. Whether you’re traveling by car, plane, or train, you’re going to want to bring along a few books to burn through your travel time, and I highly advocate picking up something in an audiobook format.
With the right narrator, audiobooks are the best format to take with you on a long trip, especially when you’re traveling solo. You have the benefit of enjoying the sparkling conversation of another person without the long awkward silences. And you never have to fight over the car radio, which is a bonus!
For the sake of this review, I’m linking directly to items available on Audible.com. If you’re new to Audible, you can download a free audiobook with a 30 day trial membership. Each book on the site offers an audio sample of the title, and user reviews which I have found to be very insightful.
One Summer, America 1927 by Bill Bryson
This is a must-read summer book! I’m a gushing fangirl for anything Bill Bryson, and everything I’ve read has been outstanding. From the title, you could as ‘Why 1927?’ The answer is surprising. Bill Bryson pens a journey through the front page headlines and equally obscure events of May through September 1927, leaving the reader engaged, entertained, and ready to read more! From Babe Ruth’s home run streak to the Mississippi River flood, you’ll be privy to the misadventures of murders, anarchists, consumer goods, and Charles Lindburg’s transatlantic flight. This is an amazing book that cannot be prized highly enough!
In the Garden Series by Nora Roberts
There are three books in this series – Blue Dahlia, Black Rose, and Red Lily. What happens when you combine three unique women with a flower business and a genealogical murder mystery? An excellent and compelling read! Genealogists will enjoy the family research happenings in the third book Red Lily, and there’s a slight problem with a researcher using a non-available federal census, but it’s a great read. This is trilogy, so yes, you will want to read them in order.
Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mysteries by Steve Robinson
What type of trouble targets a hardworking genealogist? Jefferson Tayte manages to close genealogical cold cases successfully by siting sources, visiting clients, and thwarting the plans of past and present criminals. From loyalist families swept up in the American War of Independence to the sinking of the Empress of Ireland, Steve Robinson has an excellent feel for blending family history with the elements of a detective story. You will want to read his books in order: In the Blood, To the Grave, The Last Queen of England, and The Lost Empress. To see the genealogy behind the books, visit his website.
On a related note: Want to read more about about tragedies at sea? You’ll want to read Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson and a fictional genealogical adventure Three Fates by Nora Roberts. These two books are a combination great storytelling amid intense human drama.
The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck
Ever ponder a pioneer journey in a covered wagon headed west? Rinker Buck asked that question and soon found himself traveling the entire 2,000-mile length of the Oregon Trail the old-fashioned way, in a covered wagon led by a team of mules. An adventure true to the vein of a PBS mini-series, The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey documents a journey which hasn’t been experienced in a century, and which manages to capture the history of the trail, its people, and how it shaped our nation. A pleasing read to anyone who has felt the need to move in the footsteps of their ancestors, this book will satisfy your need for history and adventure in one fell swoop.
Raising the Hunley: The Remarkable History and Recovery of the Lost Confederate Submarine by By Brian Hicks and Schuyler Kropf
Emerging from the depths of Charleston Harbor, the H.L. Hunley is an amazing Civil War story of the Confederacy’s innovation and desperation to end an economic blockade. Designed as the first documented working submarine, the H.L. Hunley disappeared on February 17, 1864, after a legendary encounter with a Union battleship somewhere in Charleston Harbor. Then, on August 8, 2000, with thousands of spectators crowding Charleston Harbor, the Hunley was raised from the bottom of the sea and towed ashore. I was on vacation with my family on the Isle of Palms near Charleston when the Hunley was rescued from Charleston Harbor, and the video footage from the event really sparked my imagination. To relive that summer of discovery, I checked out Raising the Hunley, and I loved it. There’s a shorter edition of this book for teens and older children entitled Secrets of a Civil War Submarine by Sally M. Walker, and it’s a great way to share this amazing story with the next generation of family historians.
The Arcane Society Series by Jayne Ann Krentz, et all.
Writing under three pen names for this series, author Jayne Ann Krentz has an thirteen book (and counting) series of which combines paranormal romance with family history. Interweaving past, present, and future members of several families, the Arcane Society is an engaging and well-paced series of a secret society of people with psychic abilities. Solving murders, investigating crimes, and keeping their exploits out of the newspapers is just part of life in the Arcane Society, and each book brings more of their adventures to light. You can start the series with the first book Second Sight, and to plan your reading strategy going forward, you can find a full list of the series on Library Thing.
Quick List of More Great Reads:
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
A Skeleton in the Family (Family Skeleton Mystery Series) by Leigh Perry
At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson
To keep costs low, visit your local library to checkout audiobooks. For the low-tech oriented, you should be able to score just about any title on Audio CD or Playaway. Playaways are brilliant for airplane trips, as they are simple to use and are small enough to put in your pocket. If you’re in a hurry, and want to checkout items from home, try using your library’s digital collection of audiobooks online.
With a shiny new passport it looks like I’m off on a multi-city trip for genealogy research for the next few weeks. Leave your comments or suggestions of your audiobook titles on our blog. Go out there and make this summer’s road trip one to remember!
See you sometime in August!