My Favorite Historical Fiction Books

by jessicaturner on February 18, 2013

Without question, my favorite genre of books is historical fiction.

Whenever someone posts on Facebook, I need a new book to read. Any recommendations? the books I always recommend are historical fiction. I love learning about different period through well-researched fiction.

So, if you are looking for something great to read, might I recommend one of these books? (You can find many of these books in the used section of Amazon for dirt cheap.)

Someone Knows My Name: Without question, this is my favorite book. It is the journey of a woman taken into slavery as a child and her life’s story. A MUST READ.

The Shoemaker’s Wife: I just read this book at Christmas and I could not put it down. It’s a wonderful story of love and dreams that starts out in Italy and then ends in the US after World War II. It is definitely he best book I have read in a few years. (You can get the kindle edition for only $2.99 right now!)

City of Dreams: A Novel of Nieuw Amsterdam and Early Manhattan: This is another all time favorite of mine. It takes place over several generations starting in the 1660s and is about a family of apothecaries and doctors. The writer used real medical journals to write about the various procedures that these medical practitioners used. I have loved this book for at least 5 years and just learned that City of Dreams is the first in a series of books! I’m planning to read the next book City of Glory this year.)

The Red Tent: It has been years since I first read this book, but it still is a stand-out for me. The Red Tent is set in biblical times and uses the four wives of Jacob : Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah, who teach their daughter about midwifery. It’s fascinating.

The Other Boleyn Girl: This was the first book I read by Philippa Gregory, who is one of the world’s best historical fiction writers (in my opinion). She is a fabulous researcher and writes wonderful books. The Other Boleyn Girl is part of her famous Tudor series and is about Anne and Mary Boleyn and their mutual love for the king.

Remarkable Creatures: I love all books by Tracy Chavelier, but this one was particularly fascinating to me. It’s about two women who discover some of the world’s first fossils (in the 1800s). It is based on actual people and is a wonderful read.

Water for Elephants: This book is about the circus during the Great Depression. I was so enchanted by the storytelling and what the life of circus staff was like. Water for Elephants is also a love story – and if you have seen the movie, the book is so much better!

Do you read historical fiction? What are your favorites in this genre?

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Therese February 18, 2013 at 7:40 am

All of these books are on one list or another in my goodreads lists. Red Tent is a personal favorite of mine. Have you read Sarah’s Key or Beneath a Marble Sky? I highly recommend those-my book club loved them (as did I)! Also, hands down, one of the best books I have ever read is The Last Time They Met. Have to come back and see what other people recommend. 😀


jessicaturner February 18, 2013 at 9:28 am

I have read Sarah’s Key and loved it! Will have to check out the others.


PamB February 18, 2013 at 8:52 am

I’m a book lover also but of mystery stories. I’m going to request from the library a couple of your recommendations to see if I will enjoy this type of book. Thanks for this list.


jessicaturner February 18, 2013 at 9:30 am

Mysteries used to be my favorite type of book too, but I don’t enjoy them as much anymore. I hope you will like my recommendations. :) Regardless, there’s nothing like getting lost in a good book.


PamB February 19, 2013 at 7:00 am

How sweet of you to comment on my comment! I like knowing you were a mystery fan also.


Jenn February 18, 2013 at 9:14 am

You might like Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. They are historical novels written during the Tudor period.

Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll have to add “Someone Knows My Name” to my ‘must read’ list. “Water for Elephants” is one of my all time favorite books. I absolutely love it.


Jenn February 18, 2013 at 9:15 am

Oops. The books weren’t WRITTEN during the Tudor period, they TAKE PLACE during the Tudor period. I must learn to proof read before I post!


jessicaturner February 18, 2013 at 9:29 am

ha! I knew what you meant. Thanks for the recommendations.


Sharon K February 18, 2013 at 9:35 am

I love Elswyth Thane’s Williamsburg series. It starts with one couple in pre-Revolutionary War Williamsburg, and then follows them and their descendents through the end of WWII. There are seven books in the series, you can find the list on Wikipedia.


Christy February 18, 2013 at 9:52 am

I know I’m a little biased here because I work for a publishing house, but personally I’ve loved reading Cathy Gohlke’s books. She’s a fantastic writer. “Promise Me This” is centered around the sinking of the Titanic and her latest, “Band of Sisters,” is also in the 1900s and is about the human trafficking that went on during that time in NYC. Both were good, but I think “Band of Sisters” was my favorite out of the two.


Susan V February 18, 2013 at 11:04 am

The Red Tent is one of my all-time faves. I am re-reading it for my book club right now. The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff is excellent historical fiction. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is also an excellent historical (non-fiction) book.


Janna February 18, 2013 at 12:55 pm

I’m going to put a few of these on my to-read list. Have you read The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman? Highly recommend that, as well as Unbroken that somebody else mentioned (that story is amazing!).


Cindi February 18, 2013 at 1:45 pm

My very first intro into historical/romance fiction was The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye, followed up by her books Shadow of the Moon and Trade Winds… as well as her historical mysteries Death in Berlin, Death in Zanzibar, Death in…. several other places. She grew up in India during the British rule there, and later became a military bride. Her novels cover the period in India during the British rule and the Indian mutiny, and are fascinating. Even her 3-part biography is a wonderful dip into history. I highly recommend her books. While there is an underlying romance in each of them, the main focus is the history of the country/city.


shellie February 18, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Thanks for the info! Have you read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers? Not sure if it would 100% fall in this category, but it is amazing and a must read. Love story based on the book of Hosea.


Jaymie Derden February 18, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Historical fiction is one of my fav genres also. I LOVE Bodie and Brock Thoene’s books. I’ve read most of their series… Zion Covenant, Zion Diaries, Zion Legacy, Zion Chronicles, the Shiloh Legacy… I didn’t enjoy the A.D. Chronicles as much…

I’ll have to add some of your recommendations to my reading list!


Lisa Knight February 18, 2013 at 2:34 pm

I’m currently reading the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. It’s a time travel story set in the mid to late 1770’s beginning in Scotland and ending, as of where I’m at in the series, North Carolina. Lots of action, mystery, romance, and surprises. The books are heavy and something like 750+ pages so you’ll be in your own world for quite a while! Great books!


jessicaturner February 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm

I have heard great things about this series, and even bought the first book. I am just so intimidated by the length!


Lisa Knight February 19, 2013 at 6:47 am

I was too, especially when I realized all the other books in the series were just as long! But, I’m on the 5th book now & I can say that I’m actually glad they are because I love how long the story lasts! To me, the books are that good. So go one…read it! ☺


QuatroMama February 18, 2013 at 7:38 pm

I LOVE these recommendations, Jess. It’s not historical fiction, but it is historically amazing – have you read Unbroken? It’s phenom!


Margaret Feinberg February 18, 2013 at 11:16 pm

Have read some of these, but am excited to check out new ones! Thanks, Jessica!


Beth February 19, 2013 at 9:30 am

You must read “My Name is Mary Sutter” (Civil War period) and “The Kitchen House” by Kathleen Grissom. Both are amazing. Thanks for the recommendations, historical fiction is my fav too!


Darcie February 19, 2013 at 6:04 pm

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton is a fantastic historical fiction read. It goes back and forth between the early 1900’s and current day. Well worth the 500+ page read!


Jasper Whiteside October 26, 2016 at 1:01 pm

There’s something magical about a historical fiction novel. What I mean is that the fiction part of the novel brings a particularly interesting twist to actual events. Sometimes I like to do a little digging to see if the events actually happened. You make Water for Elephants seem like a really good candidate for my next book.


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