Tuesday, December 13, 2016

My Year in Books--Historical Fiction

When I went to add my most recent read to my Goodreads account the other day, they presented me with the option of seeing "my year in books," which presented the 72 books I've logged into Goodreads this year. (That number is woefully small to me, but it's been a busy year!) Anyway, looking through this list, I realized I'd read a lot of historical fiction this year, more so than usual. So I decided to share my favorites of those books with you (in no particular order).

This book of the Lindbergh family, in particular Anne Lindbergh, covers their courtship, travels, marriage, and the notorious role they played in history. While heavy with historical facts, the book is also quite easy to connect to, humanizing these iconic historical figures. I hadn't known much about the Lindberghs prior to reading this novel, and afterward I fell down the rabbit hole of research. I think that's the mark of a good book. 

This book was not at all what I was expecting. I'm not sure what I'd been expecting, but I felt quite surprised by this one. The book is told from multiple perspectives of women during WWII, one in the U.S., one in Poland, and one in Germany. Their lives are vastly different (different ages, different lifestyles, extremely different experiences), yet they are wound together in this book. The book takes patience, since it covers a lot of ground in all three women's lives, but it pays off. It is inspired by real women, and the real events they experienced. Parts are graphic and gritty, but it is also uplifting. 

Okay, so this one is historical fiction, but it probably isn't historical fiction in the way you think of it. It's more of an historical mystery with many small mysteries all rolled into it. I'm including it here because I really liked this book, and I think the historical time periods add to the book in many ways. The book takes place in the early 1900s, the 1930s, the 1990s, and the early 2000s. It also has a few other years thrown in there, as it covers the lives of three women and explores their stories, which all in some way relate to the unsolved disappearance of a baby boy from his bedroom in 1933. It's an intimidating book because it throws a lot of red herrings at the reader, and also it's really lengthy, but very worth it when you reach the end and it all ties together.

WWII in Paris, a young architect is torn between working with the enemy (the only paying clients) and helping his fellow man. He is given the opportunity to design hideouts for Jews hiding in the city, a dangerous job, and has to make some tough calls about the man he is. The book had many more twists and turns than I was expecting, exploring a lot of rules of morality and ethics, while still finding humor and love in this terrifying time. 

One of the few children's books I got to read this year, Stella by Starlight suitably impressed me with its story of the 1930s south. The story about this little girl and her family living under Jim Crow Laws, navigating a mostly white community is scary, but also quite heartwarming. The sense of community, family, and friendship comes through the book in the midst of some sad truths. Please don't discount it because it says it's for kids. This book broke my fully grown-up heart. 

Those are my top five historical fictions from this year. Did you read mostly one genre this year? What were your favorites? 


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