Don't you love it when you can curl up with a good book and get lost in its pages for hours?
I always appreciate it when I receive a great book recommendation. And that's why I love trawling through the various social media, where there are so many great reading suggestions. My Twitter associates point me in the right direction for insightful articles in magazines, newspapers, and blogs. I suspect the same is true for LinkedIn—another social media property on which I'll soon be focusing my attention. As for blogs, they figure right up there with the best of the readers-cum-social-commentators, when it comes to the heads-up for great reads.
So, of course, when all these great resources align to recommend useful reading material, I'm not more than a click away.
That's what happened last month—just before some traveling, which always calls for a healthy helping of food for thought—when blogger John D. Reid mentioned in a post at Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections that he had been enjoying the contextually-rich volume, The Invisible History of the Human Race.
The more I thought about it—John Reid's comments on the book, as well as The New York Times' review of the book—the more I decided it would be the perfect reading companion for my upcoming travels. I bought the book in time to tuck it in my travel bags for that early August trip.
Now, I'm nearly halfway through author Christine Kenneally's well-researched volume, and am finding myself heading out the door again on a surprise flight back east. What better companion than this to fill the six hour void?!
While Christine Kenneally's book is ostensibly about DNA—that, at least, is the hook grabbing John Reid's attention—it naturally travels a far wider course. Included, as you might suspect, are sections covering genealogy and all the usual suspects: Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org and the LDS Church—much more than just "nature's digital record," as Kenneally dubbed DNA. Included between the covers of these three hundred pages (plus obligatory end notes and index) are side excursions taking us far afield of what we've come to expect as the usual tour of genealogical research. She recalls pre-World War II Germany and Hitler's tragic partnering with proponents of the eugenics movement. She examines the genealogical silence imposed upon those in the foster care of the recent past in Australia and closed adoption cases throughout the modern world.
And that's just as far as I've gotten in this book. There are worlds more awaiting my chance to grab a few more golden hours for extended concentration.
Even at this midpoint—though it is always my policy to hold off such comments until the conclusion of the matter—I can say I heartily recommend this book. It is not an easy read. It is not a straightforward examination of one simple topic. It is a contextually-dense exploration of the universe surrounding mankind's quest to understand our origins. As noted inside the book's cover,
Knowing where we stand—with respect to our direct and distant ancestors, our nationalities, and even to the tribal bands that long ago wandered from the birthplace of Homo sapiens in Africa to populate the earth—grounds us in our humanity by enabling us to claim our place in the Great Chain of Being.
I don't know if thoughts as deeply ingrained as those are what drives me to check my DNA test results each week, but there is no denying what seems to be a primal need to connect with our roots. This book is one author's exploration of that human need. And by the time my flight touches down at the end of the day, I'll hopefully have made the voyage to the last of the pages of her argument.
Disclaimer: Though I have, at times, contemplated the inclusion of what is called "affiliate links" in this blog, up to this point—and including this post—I have not done so. Please click away with abandon; though it is my contention that any decision to purchase this book would be a beneficial one for any book lover who enjoys reading this blog, it certainly won't augment my financial standing in any way, nor decrease your benefit from such a purchase.