Top Ten Books: Historical Fiction

For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, we share our ten favourite books in X-genre. I’m choosing historical fiction because a) I like it and b) there seems to be an assumption that historical fiction HAS TO BE historical romance.

P.S. CHOOSING ONLY TEN WAS REALLY HARD – and it ended up being more a list of recently read historical fiction favourites.

The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah

Near the end of WWII, a boatload of Jewish refugees arrived on the island Mauritius after being denied entry to then-British Palestine. The Last Brother is the fictionalised account of a local boy befriending a Jewish boy his age, and their intersecting lives. It is a tangible historical tale.

Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat

I know very little about the history of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and although this collection of short stories don’t exactly teach you about it, it is a heart-breaking gateway into their history, told by a talented story-teller.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I dislike including “obvious” entries, but the reason this one has to make it is this: it is a WWII tale set in Germany, but the protagonist is not Jewish. There is no doubt in my mind that little stories such as Liesel’s and Rudy’s played off all the time, but it is a side we rarely see.

In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner

Another history that is often neglected in history-teaching is Cambodia’s. Nothing in this book is made up, but a lot of it is fictionalised. It is tragic but beautifully told.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

A young adult then-and-now kind of plot interweaving the French Revolution, personal tragedy and music. I adored it.

We Need New NamesΒ by NoViolet Bulawayo

This is so recent that I hesitate calling it historical fiction. I was a little girl in grade school when news of the suffering and atrocities in Zimbabwe reached us. It became part of our South African lives, as we urged our president to drop the quiet diplomacy shpiel (he didn’t, and neither did his successor) and as Zimbabwean refugees fled in droves to our borders. It is recent history, but it is history nonetheless – and one that is at risk of being overlooked.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Another “obvious”, but female spies and fighter pilots in WWII? Give me more of that!

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

To prevent spoiling anything: crystal clear representations of times gone by. Read it.

The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh

This is an EPIC, and well worth the read. Romance and wear across Singapore, Burma and India. I suggest keeping a scribble pad by your side while reading this.

Ghosh is not a female author, but you should check out She Reads South Asia anyway. Click image for link.
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29 thoughts on “Top Ten Books: Historical Fiction”

  1. Revolution was absolutely my favorite. I laughed out loud at the scene in front of the Eiffel Tower elevator. Also loved The Book Thief. I used to stop after a particularly poetic sentence and just swoon over it for a while.

  2. I’m (relatively) new to historical fiction and your list has some great books I’d love to read. I am a huge Amitav Ghosh fan and I just got The Glass Palace from the library; can’t say I’m not excited, if it’s as good as you say! I agree with you, there are many Holocaust books, but The Book Thief manages to stand out by not being the formulaic WWII tale. Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat sounds most interesting from your list, I’ll definitely try to get my hands on it.

    1. Oooh, enjoy The Glass Palace! I definitely had to pay close attention to it, as it is such a VAST story, but I loved it! It also helped that I was reading it while traveling to India, Myanmar and Singapore… it was a pretty cool experience! Thanks for stopping by πŸ™‚

  3. I’ve only read Code Name Verity so far, but I loved it. Historical fiction is a genre I’m getting more interested in, so I really like your list this week. πŸ™‚
    Here’s my TTT

  4. I did historical fiction too, and had Shanghai Girls on my list. Such a great read. I am going to have to check out some of your choices. I’ve heard great things about Edwidge Danticat and it would be interesting, as we have a lot of Haitian immigrants here in Canada.

    1. Shanghai Girls was amazing right?! I want to read the sequel when I have the chance.
      Danticat writes beautifully. Also of the emigration to North America. So I think you might like it!

  5. I enjoy historical fiction too and must admit that I haven’t read any of these yet. My favourites are by Edward Rutherford – Sarum and London were both excellent.

    1. Thanks! Yes, The Book Thief would be a very good one to start with on this list. A long-ish read, but one that is not exhausting nor requires an inordinate amount of time. You should try it – and then watch the movie, which I thought was pretty well done! Thanks for visiting πŸ™‚

  6. Revolution has been on my “to read” list since college. I graduated about 4 Years ago, and I still haven’t snagged a copy of it! What is my problem? I have a gift card to buy books, so I am vowing right now that it will be my next purchase!

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