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  • October 2011
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It’s all history

People tend to forget that the word “history” contains the word “story”. 

~Ken Burns

I have always been horrible at history.  I’m no good at memorizing dates and names to get good grades on history exams.  My brain just doesn’t work that way even if I would like it to.

The funny thing is though, that I’ve always read Historical Fiction.   I love to learn about the lives of people from the past.   Their stories have always fascinated me.

Reading fantastic tales with ghosts, vampires and magic is just fine, but really when it comes down to it, I feel most at home with realistic stories and settings I can relate to.  Historical fiction always seems to fit the bill.  A lot of times I’m drawn to a story without even thinking of it as historical fiction.   That’s the trouble with genres.  If it’s a really good book it doesn’t matter if its fantasy or horror or graphic novel.  It’s just a good read.

If, like me, you enjoy books with action and adventure minus some of the more far-fetched aspects of Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Dystopian literature give Historical Fiction a try with some of these great titles…

The Book Thief
Macus Zusak
In a story narrated by Death himself, Liesel Meminger finds herself in a tight knit German village during WWII.  Her foster parents, friends, neighbors, and a Jewish brawler hiding in the basement band together as the bombs fall over their city and Liesel learns about the most beautiful and horrible parts of human nature.

Shades of Gray
Ruta Sepetys
Lina, her mother and brother are deported to a Stalinist work camp following the Russian invasion of Lithuania.  A talented artist, Lina hopes beyond reason that the pictures she sends in secret to her imprisoned father are enough to keep hope alive for both of them.

Moon Over Manifest
Clare Vanderpool
After a life of riding the rails Abilene Tucker has settled in Manifest, KS (at least for now).  Amidst the poverty, and depression she makes friends and goes on a “spy hunt” to learn the story of a mystery from the town’s past.

A Northern Light
Jennifer Donnelly
At 16 Mattie is largely responsible for her father’s failing farm and for her young siblings.  In 1906 Mattie has few choices but to follow the will of her parents, settle down and marry a man she doesn’t love.   But after a true life tragedy strikes at the summer resort where she is working, Mattie’s perspective on duty and loyalty is changed forever.

You say you like a little Fantasy/Sci Fi in your Historical fiction?  Check out Scott Westerfield’s Leviathan Trilogy ably reviewed by Joshua right here on this blog.  Its an alternate reality version of the epic stories of WWI.

And for a little local historical fare…

Macaroni Boy

Katherine Ayers
While Mike Costa struggles with the prejudice and poverty of the depression era in Pittsburgh’s “the Strip” neighborhood, he begins to notice a mystery developing around his Grandfather’s illness and the rats dying on the streets.

Three Rivers Rising
Jame Richards
Set against the back drop of rural Western Pennsylvania, wealthy and privileged Celestia falls in love with Peter the son of a mining family from a shanty town down river.  Their love story is intertwined with details of the real events of the Johnstown flood that killed 2,200 people in the Spring of 1889.

Happy Reading!


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