Historical Fiction: Want this? Read that.


Historical fiction has always been my go-to genre. It helps that history was one of my favorite subjects in school, but what I find most attractive about the genre is that there is always a new story to read, a new perspective to experience, a new lesson to learn.


Most of us would say we read to be entertained and to escape our realities. I find both of these experiences in my historical fiction reads. The entertainment factor comes from learning about pieces of history I will never be able to experience myself; the escape comes in the same way.


In the past, I have mostly gravitated toward WWII historical fiction. I still do, but what I have found recently is that there are so, so many more stories out there, waiting to be told. From the antebellum south, to Cuba, to Africa, to South America, and beyond, there is so much out there to explore.


Many people have told me they are hoping to read more historical fiction this year, so I decided to put together a list of my favorite historical fiction reads in a "want this? read that" format, and I have also included my historical fiction TBR shortlist at the end of this post.


**NOTE: I have included links so you can purchase these reads via Bookshop if you so choose. You can find them all on Amazon, as well, but I highly encourage everyone to consider shopping through Bookshop, as this company supports independent bookstores—and they really need our support, especially during this pandemic!



Want this? WWII France, the women's war, a really good cry.

Read that: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

  • Subject: Germany's occupation of France

  • Setting: WWII France

  • CLICK HERE for the synopsis.

  • CLICK HERE to purchase via Bookshop.


Want this? To learn about a piece of Civil War history you probably haven't heard before.

Read that: The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

  • Subject: Post-Civil War lost friend letters

  • Setting: Louisiana, both 1875 and 1987

  • CLICK HERE for the synopsis.

  • CLICK HERE to purchase via Bookshop.


Want this? An unforgettable family saga with an unforgettable lesson in Korean history

Read that: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

  • Subject: Korean history

  • Setting: 20th century Korea and Japan

  • CLICK HERE for the synopsis.

  • CLICK HERE to purchase via Bookshop.


Want this? The harrowing tale of two women's families starting with the Atlantic Slave Trade and extending into modern-day America.

Read that: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

  • Subject: African history

  • Setting: Starts in Ghana, continues to North America

  • CLICK HERE for the synopsis.

  • CLICK HERE to purchase via Bookshop.


Want this? A glimpse into what it could be like if JFK wasn't assassinated

Read that: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

  • Subject: 1950s/1960s, time travel, JFK

  • Setting: Starts in Maine, mostly in Fort Worth/Dallas in the 1950s/1960s

  • CLICK HERE for the synopsis.

  • CLICK HERE to purchase via Bookshop.


Want this? To learn about Soviet labor camps in Siberia post-WWII through the lens of a woman's unimaginable story?

Read that: Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris

  • Subject: Soviet labor camps

  • Setting: Siberia, post-WWII

  • CLICK HERE for the synopsis.

  • CLICK HERE to purchase via Bookshop.


Want this? A lesson in Quebec's impoverished and controversial orphanage system during the 1950s

Read that: The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman

  • Subject: Adoption practices in Quebec, Canada

  • Setting: Quebec, 1950s

  • CLICK HERE for the synopsis.

  • CLICK HERE to purchase via Bookshop.



Want this? To bawl your eyes out (sorry that's all you get).

Read that: The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

  • Subject: WWII (dual perspective)

  • Setting: Modern day U.S., WWII Poland

  • CLICK HERE for the synopsis.

  • CLICK HERE to purchase via Bookshop.



Want this? Rich family history involving a devastating move from their homeland, strong female leads, and lots of colorful detail

Read that: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton (the whole Cuba series)

  • Subject: Cuban revolution and subsequent years

  • Setting: Cuba, the United States, mid-1900s

  • CLICK HERE for the synopsis.

  • CLICK HERE to purchase via Bookshop.

**Other books in the series: When We Left Cuba, The Last Train to Key West, The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba (out in May)



Want this? Beautiful, lyrical writing that explores familial hardships made even more difficult by discrimination and colorism

Read that: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

  • Subject: Civil Rights era discrimination

  • Setting: Deep south to California, 1950s to the 1990s

  • CLICK HERE for the synopsis.

  • CLICK HERE to purchase via Bookshop.


Want this? A poignant story of strength and survival in the Alaskan wilderness

Read that: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

  • Subject: Post-Vietnam War

  • Setting: Mostly Alaska, 1970s

  • CLICK HERE for the synopsis.

  • CLICK HERE to purchase via Bookshop.


WANT THIS? Haunting time travel that takes a modern Black woman back to the Antebellum south

READ this: Kindred by Octavia Butler

  • Subject: Time travel, African American history

  • Setting: 1970s and antebellum Maryland

  • CLICK HERE for the synopsis.

  • CLICK HERE to purchase via Bookshop.



Want this? An inside look at the scandalous life of a 1930s Hollywood icon

Read this: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

  • Subject: Hollywood, LGBTQ+

  • Setting: 1930s and modern-day, Hollywood/NYC

  • CLICK HERE for the synopsis.

  • CLICK HERE to purchase via Bookshop.


AND FINALLY, HERE IS MY HISTORICAL FICTION TBR SHORTLIST:

  1. The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

  2. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

  3. They Went Left by Monica Hesse

  4. Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson


See any favorites on either list or do you have any recommendations for me?