Even though it's early summer, we have made real progress on our summer reading list. Genealogy, history, and memoir are our favorites. Here is a summary of what we're reading now.
Both of us finished a memoir by MIT Professor Sherry Turkle, The Empathy Diaries. The book explores Turkle's upbringing in 1950s and 1960s New York City, and her struggle to understand her mother's love ... and the secrets she tried to keep from her daughter.
While Turkle's family was small and struggled financially, they were devoted to their Jewish faith and their desire to see Sherry succeed. What's really striking is how the older members of the family including Turkle's aunt Mildred and maternal grandparents stepped up to nurture her after her mother passed away while she was in her late teens.
Turkle's memoir also shares her unusual academic journey, which took her from Radcliffe to the University of Chicago and eventually to MIT. She studies psychology, which may not seem to be a good fit for MIT, an institution deeply focused on computers and engineering. However, Turkle is deeply invested in the study of how people are affected by technology, and being at MIT has enabled her to analyze emerging digital technologies and interactions long before they become mainstream.
Ian just started The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People. While the outline of the Famine is well known to many people with Irish ancestry, author John Kelly asks an important question: The potato blight affected other parts of Europe including Belgium and Scotland, but why was it especially tragic in Ireland, which suffered one million dead and millions more desperately fleeing the island?
One reviewer sums up the book as follows:
“This is a wonderful book about a terrible event. It's also a rare combination of compelling writing, excellent scholarship, and insightful analysis that ranges over the full scope of--and goes beyond--the potato famine itself, from agricultural science, through the English politics that contributed so much to the death toll, to the impact of Irish immigration in America. A truly outstanding book.”
Turkle's and Kelly's books are listed on the EasyGenie Books page, which includes other recommended titles about immigration, the Mayflower, memoirs, and U.S. history. Check out the summer reading list today!