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Traditions Good And Bad

In our country we have many traditions. We celebrate holidays based on the traditions of our family or faith. We behave in certain ways because it is the expected, traditional way. We even eat certain foods because they are traditional. Here are some books that should open your eyes to some good and not-so-good traditions.

In America it is traditional to choose your own husband or wife. This was not the case in other countries centuries ago. Liz Curtis Higgs’ follow-up to Thorn in My Heart deals with arranged marriages and their outcomes in 18th-century Scotland. Fair is the Rose (Waterbrook Press, $13.99) continues exactly where the first book left off with Leana, Rose, and Jamie, Higgs’ fictional characters based on the Genesis story of Leah, Rachel, and Jacob. Everything seems to be working out well for Leana and Jamie McKie until some interesting information is shared with Jamie about their marriage. Heart-wrenching twists abound afterward as we see how deception and secrecy mutilate the happiness of the McKie family. A reader’s guide as well as a Scottish glossary are included in the book.

Sadly, until the ’60s, our country held fast to the tradition of segregation. Those Americans born after the fight to end this horrible treatment of African-Americans will never understand the sacrifices made by those who fought for equality. Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab’s Wife, grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, during this time. Her novel, Four Spirits (William Morrow, $26.95), pays tribute to Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley, four young girls who were killed in the 1963 bombing of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Through the eyes of several main characters, both African-American and Caucasian, we view and feel the struggle, determination, and confusion prevalent during a time of monumental change in our country.

Pride of Kentucky: Great Recipes with Food, Farm, and Family Traditions (Favorite Recipes Press, $27.95) is a partnership project of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. This cookbook is full of down-home traditional and more modern recipes for Kentucky cooking, featuring items produced here in the state. Also included is information and photos about Kentucky’s agri-business. You just may discover some unknown traditions about your favorite Kentucky dish. For instance, do you know what it means for a country ham to “go through the June sweat”? Do you know the difference between Northern corn bread and Southern corn bread? Find out here, then go cook up some good eatin’!

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