Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Friday, February 20, 2009


My mother and father both loved to read. My dad read mostly Bible study books, which he would critique, finding that many of the books published in the 50s and 60s were not true to the Word of God. He always wrote a letter to the author telling him (no hers back then) how they erred in their interpretation of God's word, and warning them about that jot and tittle thing.

My mom, while she loved to read, really didn't have time. But she always took the time to read through Better Homes and Gardens magazine and The Reader's Digest.

I guess I come by my love for reading naturally then. I'm looking at all the older books I have shelved in my sister's room, and realize that many of them were my mother's books. Later in life she was a member of a book club and read good, clean books. One of her favorite authors (and mine) was Janet Holt Giles. Ms. Giles wrote books about the Kentucky hills, namely the Appalachian part of the state. And her books are filled with life as it was in the 50s and 60s in south-central Kentucky. I loved those books. And when we moved to Cincinnati in 1975 I really wanted to live in Kentucky because of those books. We didn't settle on the south side of the river until 30 years later. And I love living here in Northern Kentucky, which is really nothing like the world down in the hills.

Another author my mom enjoyed was Elswyth Thane -- she wrote a series about Williamsburg, Virginia. The first book introduces the characters that started the families that she uses throughout the series. The first book is about coming to America and the beginning of the revolutionary war. The series ends after World War II, and the beginning of the renovation of Williamsburg. I don't know why the series ends there, but it does. I have read these books several times, and in the front of the first in the series, I keep a large map of Williamsburg -- the part that is the old village so I can follow the footpaths of the characters in the books.

It's difficult to get these books these days. Fortunately, I have a complete set of the Thane books, and I can go to any Kentucky library, in the Kentucky section and get the Giles novels.

If you get a chance, try one of these books. They're really good. If you can find the Thane books, you really need to read the Williamsburg series in order. The Giles books -- to get you started begin with Miss Willie. I think if you read that book, you'll be hooked.


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