Kristen and I met many years ago online and we have a shared love for books, family, and real talk. I’ve come to appreciate her kindness and honesty which comes straight from the heart. If you are interested in some fantastic book recommendations – I already read some of her suggestions myself! – read on!
Hi there! Kristen from LifeByKristen.com here! I’ve been blogging over at my site for about 3-ish years.
I am so happy to be posting while San is enjoying some quality family time. I’ve long been a reader of her blog and she is definitely one of my favorite people on the internet. I’m still sad I missed an opportunity to meet her IRL a few years ago! San graciously gave me free reign to write about something of interest to me, and as I know she is a fellow book lover, I thought writing about my favorite reading genre would be fun.
I think my interest in this genre began with the American Girl books ( Kirsten was my favorite). I’m a history nut- part of the reason I chose a career in museums is because I love learning about people, places, events, and objects from the past. I enjoy reading historical fiction for the same reasons. As a writer myself, I can also appreciate and respect the creativity that comes with creating a new story from an actual event. In my opinion, it takes a whole other level of research and thinking to try to frame a story around a series of well-defined facts and people.
If you’re a fan of historical fiction, there are books out there that meet just about every time period or major historical event. There are even time-traveling, vampire-filled historical fiction books! For me, I’ve found I enjoy historical fiction that is character-driven, usually with a love story or some sort of drama or intrigue built into it. I tend to read a lot with female main characters, and seem to have more than my fair share with plots that center around World War II. With that in mind, here are a few of my favorites to recommend!
The Baker Towers by Jennifer Haigh—this book is easily on my top ten favorite books of all time. I read it almost in one sitting. It follows a family in a Pennsylvania mining town from the days after World War II through the modern era. I especially enjoyed this because each part is told from a different family member perspective, another element of fiction I tend to go after. Haigh is a masterful storyteller—I’ve devoured every single one of her books and she is the first author I recommend to people looking something new. News from Heaven is a recent collection of her short stories that is a companion piece to Baker Towers.
Anne of the Wild Rose Inn by Jennifer Armstrong—a YA book that I originally read while in junior high, this is a series of novels that feature a different girl ‘of the Wild Rose Inn’ during various time periods. While I’ve read a number of them, this was my first and about the American Revolution, specifically the events in Concord and Boston, MA. I was born in Concord, so take some strange connection to the American Revolution as a historical interest. This book is classic teenage romance.
The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant- I was captivated by the main character and learned about some events and places in the Boston-area that I am familiar with, but didn’t know much about. Super enjoyable read. Also recommend The Red Tent by her- story of Old Testament of the Bible from a lesser known woman’s perspective.
The Future Homemakers of America by Laurie Graham – I can’t remember where I picked up this book, but it was one of those finds where I laughed so much when reading. It follows a group of women who are military wives, all thrown together when living on a military base in England together during World War II. It follows the gals through the years and takes in a lot of the social and cultural history of America after World War II.
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay- Heartbreaking, but lovely story of lesser known events involving French Jews during days leading up to the outbreak of World War II. Could barely put it down!
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen- 1930s traveling circus with an amazing elephant. I have a soft spot for elephants, so I was destined to love this book. Do not see the movie- doesn’t even come close to doing this amazing tale justice. I’m anxious to read her new book (At the Water’s Edge) — #70 out of 189 on my library wait list for it!
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan- I bought this book when Borders closed and it sat on my bookshelf forever, but when I picked it up on a lazy summer weekend, I read it in almost one sitting. I knew a bit about Frank Lloyd Wright’s life, but this is told from the perspective of his mistress. I love when historical fiction gives me just enough information to then go out and want to learn more.
For quick, light romantic, historically based reads, I recommend Sara Jio’s books- My favorite is Goodnight June.
I could go on and on, but if you have any other recommendations, I’d love to have them!