I don’t know about you, but for me, fall always feels like the perfect time to read some historical fiction. Historical fiction is one of my absolute favorite things to read, but I haven’t really read that much of it this year. I’m trying to take it easy on myself, reading-wise, because I’ve been through some pretty terrible slumps this year. But I do still want to read at least one great historical fiction novel in what’s left of the year.

Here are the ten books at the top of my TBR (in no particular order). It’s going to be a while before I get to all of these, but hopefully one of them calls to me at some point this fall.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

I read A Gentleman in Moscow over a year ago, and I still haven’t stopped thinking about it. It’s such a great book! Probably one of my favorites. And I have heard a lot of great things about Amor Towles’s other book, Rules of Civility. I haven’t actually read very many books set int he 1930s, so I think this will be a pretty interesting read.

Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel

It’s no surprise that I love Tudor England. I also tend to enjoy the Booker Prize winners. So it’s kind of amazing that I have yet to read a Booker Winner set in Tudor England. To be fair, Thomas Cromwell was never really my favorite figure, and he is who this series revolves around. But I’ve heard great things about this series, it seems like something I will like, and I think it’s a great option to tide me over until we get the final installment in Alison Weir’s Six Tudor Queens series.

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

This book has been on my radar for a while, and I’ve heard some pretty great things about it. Recently, I have been trying to read a lot more historical fiction by authors of color, and I have ended up loving so much of it. Kindred and Homegoing just really made me want to read more historical fiction about slavery – not because it’s something I particularly enjoy reading, I just enjoy learning a lot more and think the stories are important. I think this is definitely one I could end up really enjoying.

The House Girl by Tara Conklin

Recently, I started the process of going through my books and clearing my shelves, and rediscovered this one. It’s been sitting on my shelves for years, and I’ve never touched it. But it sounds really interesting. I tend to like narratives about slavery that bounce back and forth between the eighteen hundreds and more modern times. So I think I might end up liking this one, too.

World Without End by Ken Follett

Last year I read and LOVED The Pillars of the Earth. It is honestly one of my favorite books of all time. I really want to continue this series, but the books are absolutely massive and intimidating. If I’m being honest, I probably won’t get to this until next year, but I still really want to read it.

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

Despite being half Italian, I can’t think of a single historical fiction book I’ve read that is set in Italy. Plus, this is just one of those books that everyone talks about. Which means I’m convinced I have to read it. Really, though, it just sounds really good and I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet.

Atonement by Ian McEwan

This book has been on my shelves for probably ten years. I bought it at a used bookstore after having seen and loved the adaptation. I have since read a different Ian McEwan novel, Nutshell, which I really enjoyed. So I have no idea why I haven’t read this one yet, but I feel like it needs to happen soon.

City of Thieves by David Benioff

I’ve kind of forgotten what this book is about (something about WWII and the search for ingredients to make a cake maybe?), but several people have recommended it to me over the past few years. Plus, David Benioff was one of the writers on Game of Thrones and I love GoT.

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

This was recommended to me by the same person who recommended several other books that turned out to be favorites of mine. So I already know I’m going to love this. It’s based on a true story of one family during WWII. And I think the author was one of their descendants who wrote this book about learning of her own family’s history during the Holocaust. I’m assuming this will probably make me cry, but it’ll be worth it.

The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara

I’m not going to lie: A Little Life absolutely broke me (like, made me sob for eight straight hours and was depressed for three months after I finished it). And I’ve been terrified to pick up another Hanya Yanagihara book since. But I still find myself drawn to A Little Life. My mental health is not good enough right now to withstand a reread (someday, maybe), so I thought I’d try this one. Hopefully it is slightly less devastating.

I hope you enjoyed this post! And now that I’ve spent time putting this post together I really want to read one of these books, so it was definitely helpful!

Have you read any of these books? Which one do you think I should read first? Is there a great historical fiction novel you’d recommend to me that isn’t on this list?

10 thoughts

  1. I really enjoyed the trilogy by Ken Follett, though you’re right they are huge! But thankfully an interesting read. Apart from Atonement, haven’t read anything. Will keep this list in mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Yeah, I went with the (super long) audiobook for Pillars of the Earth, and the anxiety I felt over Jack while driving home from work and listening to this messed me up 😂


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