Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Slice of Life & #52Stories 40/52: Bookish Thoughts

#52Stories is my attempt to write 52 stories from my life during the year 2020. At least one story a week, in no particular order, to remember and document some of the memories and moments of my life.

 If you've spent any time at all with me (IRL or on the blog), then you know that books are an important, no, make that essential, part of my life. I've struggled a bit the past few months with a reading slump, but I'd like to mention several books I've discovered during this time.

The first was our book club read for the month of October, A Place for Us. I loved this exploration of a Muslim family, parental love, and family connections.  Before I returned it to the library, I copied pages of quotes.  Perhaps I should have just bought the book, but I'm trying hard to downsize my book collection. 

The next book, one that I read several months ago, broke my pandemic reading slump. Harry's Trees, has that perfect touch of magical realism. I'm a tree lover from way back. I think I first heard this book discussed on the podcast, What Should I Read Next? And I'm so glad it finally made its way to my holds shelf at the library. 

The next book that I want to share is one that I haven't quite finished, but I'm close enough to know that it will earn a place on my list of books I've loved in 2020. It's Renee Watson's middle grade book, Some Places More Than Others. Main character Amara's trip to New York City and her efforts to understand and discover the family she's never known struck a home run with me. It ties in so well with my own efforts to understand and connect the strands of my own family.

And that brings me to the final book I want to share. I haven't read it yet, but it's important to me because I inherited it from Great Aunt Becky, my grandmother's sister. Published in 1942, it's a historical novel, a genre I love. It earned a spot on the NYT bestseller list in October 1942. Four weeks later, it rose to number one and stayed there for nearly a year. I'm not sure how I ended up with the book except that as a self-described bookworm, someone thought I would enjoy it (probably my mom).

The inscription shows that it was a Christmas gift in 1947 to Aunt Fannie (age 67 that year) from my Great Aunt Palmyra, Great Aunt Becky's sister.  As I've spent more time exploring our family, I found Aunt Fannie on the family tree. She is a sister to my great grandmother, Mary Ann Wilson. Mary Ann is the 2nd child and Fannie is the 7th child of the 11 children born to my great great grandparents, John B. Wilson and Mariah Catherine Kemp. Aunt Fannie was born in Arkansas, had eight children of her own, spent time in Oklahoma, was listed in Chaves, New Mexico on the 1940 census, and died in 1957 at the age of 79 in Modesto, California. Perhaps I should see if I could locate any of Aunt Fanny's posterity and see if they want the book. But before I do, I want to read it. I like thinking about Aunt Fanny turning the pages and knowing that Aunt Pal had probably also read the book. Are you wondering about the title of the book? It's an old classic by Lloyd C. Douglas. 

I don't have any pictures of Great Great Aunt Fannie, but maybe I'll post the pic of the book and inscription in the Memories section of Family search on her page. Here's a pic of my great aunts, Palmyra and Rebecca (sisters to my grandmother, Ella Martin Duff). I have always thought they were very elegant women!


  1. Hi Ramona! I love this slice of family history! I read The Robe in 9th grade and thought I was so grown up. I'm going to look for Harry's Trees. (I'm also a tree lover.) I'm reading a book you might enjoy called The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. The picture is classic. Women of the 40s dressed so nicely.

  2. What fun to have a book that long ago family members have read. I have a few very old books that belonged to my Dad. I have never read them but may just pull them out and take a look. He died when I was five so I hold on to them as a memory of him. Thanks for sharing your family story.

  3. Ramona, I also love of historical fiction and have enjoyed the movie, The Robe, for many years. I am glad that you are out from under a reading slump. It is hard to believe that you would be without a book. I enjoyed hearing more about your family history.