Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Top Ten Books for Readers Who Never Read Historical Fiction

Historical fiction has been one of my favorite genres of fiction since I was in grade school.  Occasionally, I wander off and forget to read it for a long period of time, but getting back to it is always like coming home.  This week The Broke and the Bookish are asking us to share some good reads for people who are new to our favorite genres, so here's a few must read historicals for the uninitiated. 

If you like YA...

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - Seriously?  You haven't read this yet?  For shame.  It's only the bookish person's Holocaust novel. 
2. Open Wounds by Joseph Lunievicz - I loved this underrated story of an orphan growing up in 1940s New York, learning to fence from thespians, and finding an unlikely savior in the guise of his disfigured, war vet cousin who turns up in the nick of time.  Lunievicz's book definitely brings historical NYC to life. 

If you're more into sci-fi/fantasy...

3. Kindred by Octavia Butler - Wherein an African American woman time travels between the slave-holding American South and modern times.  Scary stuff, and so good.

4. The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy - Or maybe you'd like a Holocaust tale made to mirror the Hansel and Gretel fairytale.  I know I did. 

If you need a side of modern with your historical...

5. The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi - A modern story and a historical story intermingle in this book that follows a girl being married off to an Afghan warlord and her ancestor who served as a harem guard in the king's palace.

6. The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen - One of my favorite Holocaust stories.  A young girl doesn't understand why her Jewish family celebrates the passover and why her grandfather has that tattoo of numbers on his arm, until she is transported back in time to experience the Holocaust alongside the younger selves of her older relatives. 

Or maybe you're a budding feminist/like a book with a strong female character...

7. The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin - Anne Morrow Lindbergh is no slouch, occasionally forsaking motherhood to fly with her famous American hero husband.  She's not afraid to stay home with the kids either, but when she needs time for herself, she's got the guts to go ahead and take it. 

8. I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe - Rosetta Wakefield doesn't spend the the days of the Civil War working on chores and waiting for bad news to come about her young husband.  Instead, she transforms herself into a boy and follows him into battle. 

9. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly - Mattie has a new word of the day every day and is determined to use the money she's making working at a summer mountain resort for the rich to leave the family farm and go to college, even though there's a handsome young man that would prefer otherwise.

10. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles - The main character social climbs with brains, guts, and bookishness instead of butt kissery in early 20th century NYC. 

PS, these categories are totally mix and matchable. You could easily slide at least a few of these into a few of my arbitrarily chosen categories.

What are some books you would recommend to someone looking to sample your favorite genre?


  1. I'm going to pass your list on to a few friends.

    1. Cool! Hope they find something they like! :)

  2. What a great list - I loved Rules of Civility, Kindred and the Book Thief. I've added some of your recommendations to my wishlist :)

  3. I haven't read a single one of these. Oh pathetic me. I do really want to read half of them (enough so that I already own them), but the other half are completely new titles to me. And I suspect you'll be disappointed to know that you just made me add those to my wish list too. :)

    1. I'm always that person that has the books that everyone's recommending but hasn't read them, so I may relate just a little. ;-)

      Oh yes, I do so hate burdening people's wishlists with great books. LOL! Sorry, not sorry! :-D

  4. I haven't read any of these so thanks for all the suggestions! Great list :)

    Here are my Top Ten!

  5. The Book Thief--so good! And when I saw your mention of The True Story of Hansel and Gretel, I got all excited. :-) Love that book! Kindred is one I want to read at some point. I want to read The Pearl That Broke Its Shell too.

    Great list, Megan!

    1. The True Story of Hansel and Gretel is one of my absolutes favorites. Funny, because I totally just stumbled upon it at a book sale before anyone even had a chance to recommend it to me!

  6. I'm not a huge HF fan, but I have read 3 from your list and enjoyed them.

  7. I haven't read any of these but the Sci-fi ones look good. I might give those a try!
    Happy reading!