Over the last month or so, I’ve noticed blog posts comprised of top 10 lists popping up on several of my favorite blogs. Through reading these lists, I discovered the Top Ten Tuesday meme at The Broke and the Bookish and decided that, after ending my hiatus, I wanted to join in the fun!
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to choose a genre and then name the top 10 books we’d give to someone new to that genre. And so, without further ado, here are, in no particular order…
The Top 10 Books I’d Give to Readers Who Have Never Read Historical Fiction!
The Boleyn trilogy, by Laura S. Andersen
This trilogy, set in the Tudor court of King Henry VIII, asks a rather provocative and fascinating question: What if Anne Boleyn had given Henry VIII the son he so desperately wanted, saving her own life and changing English history forever? I read each of these books within a day or two — they were that engrossing — and reviewed them here, here, and here earlier this year. They provide a realistic and detailed re-imagining of one of the most intriguing periods in history, and I adore them! (And yeah, they may be three separate books but they tell one long story, so for all intents and purposes they count as one!)
11/22/63, by Stephen King
This brilliant and very popular novel tells the story of an English teacher named Jake Epping who time-travels to stop the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (hence the title). How might the United States, and the world, be different if JFK had survived the attempt on his life? 11/22/63 is an incredibly well-researched and fascinating story discussing the implications of changing the past and its effects on the present and future.
Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
This American classic, set in antebellum Georgia during the American Civil War and subsequent Reconstruction, tells the story of Scarlett O’Hara, a snooty Southern belle with champagne taste and undying love for a man she can’t have. The outbreak of war turns her life upside down and Scarlett must adapt to a new way of life while raising three children, dealing with two husbands and the debonair Rhett Butler, and continuing to pine for the unavailable Ashley Wilkes. The tale is sprawling, much like Scarlett’s family’s beloved Tara plantation, and well worth a read.
Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
My favorite novel of all time just happens to fit beautifully into this category! Little Women tells the tale of four sisters growing up in Civil War-era Massachusetts. The themes of family, love, and war, among others, are as relevant today as they were when Ms. Alcott published the book. This is just one of many reasons why this is considered an American classic, and it should be on everyone’s To Be Read (TBR) pile, in my humble opinion!
My Brother Sam is Dead, by Christopher Collier and James Lincoln Collier
There’s no way you didn’t cross paths with this book if you went through American K-8 schools! It’s the story of two brothers, Tim Meeker and his older brother Sam, who are growing up in Connecticut when the American Revolution begins. The boys’ father is a loyalist who, upon discovering that Sam has enlisted to fight for the American Continental Army, becomes estranged from his son. Tim tells the story of how war can tear a family completely apart.
The Forgotten Seamstress, by Liz Trenow
I shared a review of The Forgotten Seamstress back in May, and I feel as strongly about it now as when I read the last page. The novel tells the stories of two women, Maria Romano and Caroline Meadows, and the incredible quilt that connects them across the decades. Beautifully detailed and utterly wrenching, this is truly a must-read, especially for anyone with an interest in genealogy.
Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice
Who needs Twilight when you can read something as expansive and engrossing as an Anne Rice vampire novel?! Some of the various covers of this book advertise it as “the story that started it all,” and for good reason. Ms. Rice has a reputation for bringing vampires and history to vibrant life, and Interview with the Vampire (which started out as a short story) is the one with which she developed that uncanny ability. Sprawling, dark, and incredibly sexy, this is one of those books that every historical fiction buff should at minimum give a look.
I Shall Be Near to You, by Erin Lindsay McCabe
If you haven’t figured it out already, the Civil War is my favorite period in American history, and I Shall Be Near to You is another wonderful (and more recently written) story set in it! After Rosetta’s husband Jeremiah enlists in the Union Army, she decides she’d rather join the cause than be stuck at home as women were expected to be, and so she chops off her hair, puts on Jeremiah’s clothes, and enlists to fight alongside him. This is an incredible story of love, deception, and war. If you haven’t added it to your TBR pile, do it now!
The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
This epistolary novel tells the story of Celie who, when we meet her at age 14, has already been physically and sexually abused at the hands of her father for years. The focus here is on the black female experience in the early-to-mid-20th century, and it’s an important read for anyone looking to reflect on race and social injustice in America. As far as I’m concerned, this should be required reading for every American, regardless of age, gender, skin color, whatever.
The Roving Tree, by Elsie Augustave
The Roving Tree was the second-to-last book I reviewed before attending BEA, and it was one of those stories that hit me really hard. Iris, a Haitian native, is adopted by an affluent, white American family in the 1960s and grows up in a world where racism and sexism are the order of the day. Her story is utterly profound, completely moving, and well worth a look.
In case you haven’t figured it out, I am a huge fan of historical fiction. What novels would you add to this category? Shout them out in the comments!