Juneteenth Book List

Juneteenth Book List

Books to Commemorate Freedom on this important day in history!

Juneteenth Book List

Juneteenth commemorates the official end of slavery in the United States.

On June 19th, 1865 federal troops arrived in Galveston, TX to take control of the state and ensure all enslaved people be freed. The troops’ arrival was a full two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

Juneteenth celebrates this momentous day and is finally a federal holiday! In the spirit of celebration, I’ve put together a Juneteenth Book List below. Happy Reading!


Juneteenth Book List

On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed

The essential, sweeping story of Juneteenth’s integral importance to American history, as told by a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and Texas native.

Weaving together American history, dramatic family chronicle, and searing episodes of memoir, Annette Gordon-Reed’s On Juneteenth provides a historian’s view of the country’s long road to Juneteenth, recounting both its origins in Texas and the enormous hardships that African-Americans have endured in the century since, from Reconstruction through Jim Crow and beyond. All too aware of the stories of cowboys, ranchers, and oilmen that have long dominated the lore of the Lone Star State, Gordon-Reed―herself a Texas native and the descendant of enslaved people brought to Texas as early as the 1820s―forges a new and profoundly truthful narrative of her home state, with implications for us all.


Juneteenth: A Novel by Ralph Ellison

The radiant, posthumous second novel by the visionary author of Invisible Man.

In Washington, D.C., in the 1950s, Adam Sunraider, a race-baiting senator from New England, is mortally wounded by an assassin’s bullet while making a speech on the Senate floor. To the shock of all who think they know him, Sunraider calls out from his deathbed for Alonzo Hickman, an old black minister, to be brought to his side. The reverend is summoned; the two are left alone. “Tell me what happened while there’s still time,” demands the dying Sunraider.

Out of their conversation, and the inner rhythms of memories whose weight has been borne in silence for many long years, a story emerges. Senator Sunraider, once known as Bliss, was raised by Reverend Hickman in a black community steeped in religion and music (not unlike Ralph Ellison’s own childhood home) and was brought up to be a preaching prodigy in a joyful black Baptist ministry that traveled throughout the South and the Southwest. Together one last time, the two men retrace the course of their shared life in an “anguished attempt,” Ellison once put it, “to arrive at the true shape and substance of a sundered past and its meaning.” In the end, the two men confront their most painful memories, memories that hold the key to understanding the mysteries of kinship and race that bind them, and to the senator’s confronting how deeply estranged he had become from his true identity.


Reconstruction by Eric Foner

The prize-winning classic work on the post-Civil War period that shaped modern America.

Eric Foner’s “masterful treatment of one of the most complex periods of American history” (New Republic) redefined how the post-Civil War period was viewed.

Reconstruction chronicles the way in which Americans—black and white—responded to the unprecedented changes unleashed by the war and the end of slavery. It addresses the ways in which the emancipated slaves’ quest for economic autonomy and equal citizenship shaped the political agenda of Reconstruction; the remodeling of Southern society and the place of planters, merchants, and small farmers within it; the evolution of racial attitudes and patterns of race relations; and the emergence of a national state possessing vastly expanded authority and committed, for a time, to the principle of equal rights for all Americans.

This “smart book of enormous strengths” (Boston Globe) remains the standard work on the wrenching post-Civil War period—an era whose legacy still reverberates in the United States today.


Envisioning Emancipation by Deborah Willis and Barbara Krauthamer

The Emancipation Proclamation is one of the most important documents in American history. As we commemorate its 150th anniversary, what do we really know about those who experienced slavery?

In their pioneering book, Envisioning Emancipation, renowned photographic historian Deborah Willis and historian of slavery Barbara Krauthamer have amassed 150 photographs—some never before published—from the antebellum days of the 1850s through the New Deal era of the 1930s. The authors vividly display the seismic impact of emancipation on African Americans born before and after the Proclamation, providing a perspective on freedom and slavery and a way to understand the photos as documents of engagement, action, struggle, and aspiration.

Envisioning Emancipation illustrates what freedom looked like for black Americans in the Civil War era. From photos of the enslaved on plantations and African American soldiers and camp workers in the Union Army to Juneteenth celebrations, slave reunions, and portraits of black families and workers in the American South, the images in this book challenge perceptions of slavery. They show not only what the subjects emphasized about themselves but also the ways Americans of all colors and genders opposed slavery and marked its end.

Filled with powerful images of lives too often ignored or erased from historical records, Envisioning Emancipation provides a new perspective on American culture.


Happy Juneteenth Everyone! Hope this Juneteenth Book List helps you learn a bit more about what we’re celebrating and the history behind it.


For more of Joyana’s Book Lists- go to her Book List page here!

Summer Books 2022

Summer Books 2022

My lighter, poolside reading list for summer! I promise- it’s not just romance 😉

Summer Books 2022

Summer Books 2022

It’s tough to find the “right” books to scratch the summer itch. Let’s be real, our brains are just not always up for heavier, thinking required books during the hot months of the year. Seriously, who wants to read a depressing book next to kids splashing around at the pool? But at the same time, lighter books often get equated to romance or chick-lit books. Can’t there be something in the middle? Here you go- my curated list of summer books 2022! Light and fun, but not all cheesy romance!

Summer Books 2022

Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland

A Good Morning America Buzz Pick
A Can’t-Miss Beach Read For Summer from The Skimm
A Best Beach Read from Bustle
A Best Summer Read from PopSugar

A family reunion for the ages when two clans convene for the summer at their beloved getaway in the Catskills—perfect for fans of Dirty Dancing and The Marvelous Mrs.Maisel—from the acclaimed author of The Floating Feldmans.

In its heyday, The Golden Hotel was the crown jewel of the hotter-than-hot Catskills vacation scene. For more than sixty years, the Goldman and Weingold families – best friends and business partners – have presided over this glamorous resort which served as a second home for well-heeled guests and celebrities. But the Catskills are not what they used to be – and neither is the relationship between the Goldmans and the Weingolds. As the facilities and management begin to fall apart, a tempting offer to sell forces the two families together again to make a heart-wrenching decision. Can they save their beloved Golden or is it too late?

Long-buried secrets emerge, new dramas and financial scandal erupt, and everyone from the traditional grandparents to the millennial grandchildren wants a say in the hotel’s future. Business and pleasure clash in this fast-paced, hilarious, nostalgia-filled story, where the hotel owners rediscover the magic of a bygone era of nonstop fun even as they grapple with what may be their last resort.

This was an adorable read that allowed me to escape the chaos of the first family trip to the pool. A nice, easy, fun quick read!


The Maid by Nina Prose

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK • “A heartwarming mystery with a lovable oddball at its center” (Real Simple), this cozy whodunit introduces a one-of-a-kind heroine who will steal your heart.
 
“The reader comes to understand Molly’s worldview, and to sympathize with her longing to be accepted—a quest that gives The Maid real emotional heft.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
 
“Think Clue. Think page-turner.”—Glamour

In development as a major motion picture produced by and starring Florence Pugh.

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.

This is a new take on the cozy mystery genre. Another quick, fun read that will give you a new appreciation for people who are just a little bit different. Add this to your Summer Reads 2022 list!


With Love from London by Sarah Jio

When a woman inherits her estranged mother’s bookstore in London’s Primrose Hill, she finds herself thrust into the pages of a new story—hers—filled with long-held family secrets, the possibility of new love, and, perhaps, the single greatest challenge of her life.

When Valentina Baker was only eleven years old, her mother, Eloise, unexpectedly fled to her native London, leaving Val and her father on their own in California. Now a librarian in her thirties, fresh out of a failed marriage and still at odds with her mother’s abandonment, Val feels disenchanted with her life.

In a bittersweet twist of fate, she receives word that Eloise has died, leaving Val the deed to her mother’s Primrose Hill apartment and the Book Garden, the storied bookshop she opened almost two decades prior. Though the news is devastating, Val jumps at the chance for a new beginning and jets across the Atlantic, hoping to learn who her mother truly was while mourning the relationship they never had.

As Val begins to piece together Eloise’s life in the U.K., she finds herself falling in love with the pastel-colored third-floor flat and the cozy, treasure-filled bookshop, soon realizing that her mother’s life was much more complicated than she ever imagined. When Val stumbles across a series of intriguing notes left in a beloved old novel, she sets out to locate the book’s mysterious former owner, though her efforts are challenged from the start, as is the Book Garden’s future. In order to save the store from financial ruin and preserve her mother’s legacy, she must rally its eccentric staff and journey deep into her mother’s secrets. With Love from London is a story about healing and loss, revealing the emotional, relatable truths about love, family, and forgiveness.

I LOVE Sarah Jio and as usual, she did not disappoint. This is a great book to understand the complexities of the mother/daughter relationship and the desire to live a life without settling. A nice Girl Power book!


Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK • A must-read debut! Meet Elizabeth Zott: a one-of-a-kind scientist in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the unlikely star of a beloved TV cooking show in this novel that is “irresistible, satisfying and full of fuel. It reminds you that change takes time and always requires heat” (The New York Times Book Review).
 
“It’s the world versus Elizabeth Zott, an extraordinary woman determined to live on her own terms, and I had no trouble choosing a side…. A page-turning and highly satisfying tale: zippy, zesty, and Zotty.” —Maggie Shipstead, best-selling author of Great Circle.

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results. 
 
But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.  
 
Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.

This book is a hilarious, quick read! A definite must for your Summer Books 2022 list!


Hope you enjoyed this Summer Books 2022 list! I also hope you enjoy your summer with some relaxing poolside reading! If you’re looking for more great books to add to your TBR lists- check out some of my other Book List posts! Enjoy!

LGBTQ Book List

Celebrate Pride Month and how far society has come with some great reads to learn the history behind the movement! Enjoy this LGBTQ Book List of recommendations to read poolside this summer!

LGBTQ Book List

LGBTQ Book List of Great Reads

The Men With the Pink Triangle by Heinz Heger

For decades, history ignored the Nazi persecution of gay people. Only with the rise of the gay movement in the 1970s did historians finally recognize that gay people, like Jews and others deemed “undesirable,” suffered enormously at the hands of the Nazi regime. Of the few who survived the concentration camps, only one ever came forward to tell his story.


LGBTQ Book List

Transgender Warriors by Leslie Feinberg

“The foundational text that gave me life-changing context, helping me to understand who I was and who came before me.”—Tourmaline, activist and filmmaker

Transgender Warriors is an essential read for trans people of all ages who want to learn about the towering figures who have come before them—and for everyone who is part of the fight for trans liberation

This groundbreaking book—far ahead of its time when first published in 1996 and still galvanizing today—interweaves history, memoir, and gender studies to show that transgender people, far from being a modern phenomenon, have always existed and have exerted their influence throughout history. Leslie Feinberg—herself a lifelong transgender revolutionary—reveals the origin of the check-one-box-only gender system and shows how zie found empowerment in the lives of transgender warriors around the world, from the Two Spirits of the Americas to the many genders of India, from the trans shamans of East Asia to the gender-bending Queen Nzinga of Angola, from Joan of Arc to Marsha P. Johnson and beyond.


LGBTQ Book List

This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman

Named one of the Top 11 Most Challenged Books of 2018 by American Library Association.

  • Winner of the 2015 Stonewall Book Award—Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award
  • A Top Ten Title, 2015 American Library Association Rainbow List
  • Winner, 2015 Notable Books for a Global Society Awards
  • Named one of the most important books of the last decade by The Advocate’s “40 Under 40” list

This book is a must on any LGBTQ Book List!

This day in June…. Parade starts soon….  Rainbow arches…. Joyful marches!

In a wildly whimsical, validating, and exuberant reflection of the LGBT community, This Day In June welcomes readers to experience a pride celebration and share in a day when we are all united.

Also included is a Note to Parents and Other Caregivers with information on how to talk to children about sexual orientation and gender identity in age-appropriate ways as well as a Reading Guide chock-full of facts about LGBT history and culture. This Day in June is an excellent tool for teaching respect, acceptance, and understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.


LGBTQ Book List

Real Queer America by Samantha Allen

LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD FINALIST
A transgender reporter’s “powerful, profoundly moving” narrative tour through the surprisingly vibrant queer communities sprouting up in red states (New York Times Book Review), offering a vision of a stronger, more humane America.
Ten years ago, Samantha Allen was a suit-and-tie-wearing Mormon missionary. Now she’s a GLAAD Award-winning journalist happily married to another woman. A lot in her life has changed, but what hasn’t changed is her deep love of Red State America, and of queer people who stay in so-called “flyover country” rather than moving to the liberal coasts.

In Real Queer America, Allen takes us on a cross-country road-trip stretching all the way from Provo, Utah to the Rio Grande Valley to the Bible Belt to the Deep South. Her motto for the trip: “Something gay every day.” Making pit stops at drag shows, political rallies, and hubs of queer life across the heartland, she introduces us to scores of extraordinary LGBT people working for change, from the first openly transgender mayor in Texas history to the manager of the only queer night club in Bloomington, Indiana, and many more.

Capturing profound cultural shifts underway in unexpected places and revealing a national network of chosen family fighting for a better world, Real Queer America is a treasure trove of uplifting stories and a much-needed source of hope and inspiration in these divided times.


LGBTQ List

Best Book of the Year
NPR • The Washington Post • Boston Globe• TIME • USA Today • Entertainment Weekly • Real Simple • Parade • Buzzfeed • Electric Literature • LitHub • BookRiot • PopSugar • Goop • Library Journal • BookBub • KCRW

• Finalist for the National Book Award
• One of the New York Times Notable Books of the Year
• One of the New York Times Best Historical Fiction of the Year
• Instant New York Times Bestseller 

A singular and stunning debut novel about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence.

Isaiah was Samuel’s and Samuel was Isaiah’s. That was the way it was since the beginning, and the way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, but also to each other, transforming the hollowed-out shed into a place of human refuge, a source of intimacy and hope in a world ruled by vicious masters. But when an older man—a fellow slave—seeks to gain favor by preaching the master’s gospel on the plantation, the enslaved begin to turn on their own. Isaiah and Samuel’s love, which was once so simple, is seen as sinful and a clear danger to the plantation’s harmony.

With a lyricism reminiscent of Toni Morrison, Robert Jones, Jr., fiercely summons the voices of slaver and enslaved alike, from Isaiah and Samuel to the calculating slave master to the long line of women that surround them, women who have carried the soul of the plantation on their shoulders. As tensions build and the weight of centuries—of ancestors and future generations to come—culminates in a climactic reckoning, The Prophets fearlessly reveals the pain and suffering of inheritance, but is also shot through with hope, beauty, and truth, portraying the enormous, heroic power of love.


LGBTQ Book List

PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
A NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 BOOK OF 2018
LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE WINNER
ALA CARNEGIE MEDAL WINNER
THE STONEWALL BOOK AWARD WINNER

Soon to Be a Major Television Event, optioned by Amy Poehler

“A page turner . . . An absorbing and emotionally riveting story about what it’s like to live during times of crisis.” —The New York Times Book Review
 

A dazzling novel of friendship and redemption in the face of tragedy and loss set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris.

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister.

Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world, as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.

Named a Best Book of 2018 by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, NPR, San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, Entertainment Weekly, Buzzfeed, The Seattle Times, Bustle, Newsday, AM New York, BookPage, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Lit Hub, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, New York Public Library and Chicago Public Library.


Thank so much for reading and please feel free to add more great options to the LGBTQ Book List in the comments below!


For more Book Lists check out the page here!

Top 10 Historical Fiction Books of 2021

Top 10 Historical Fiction Books of 2021

Tis the season to reminisce and discuss favorites from the past year. Today’s focus- Top 10 Historical Fiction books of 2021! It’s actually been quite a year for the historical fiction genre. I had trouble compiling this list as there are too many goodies to list.

Ways I whittled down-

One- Some books from the genre are already super well-publicized- aka (The Four Winds and Malibu Rising). So, I steered clear of any that hit mainstream status. Instead I highlighted other goodies that might have fallen under radar.

Two- I like to embrace the WIDE definition of the historical fiction genre and the different tastes of its readers. Therefore, I tried to spotlight a wide variety of approaches and “flavors” in the genre.

So, without further ado, here are my Top 10 Historical Fiction Books of 2021!

This links included are my affiliate links, so if you purchase using these, I will receive a small commission. But all recommendations are based of my true opinions. 🙂

Top 10 Historical Fiction Books of 2021
  1. The Women’s March by Jennifer Chiaverini– I will warn you up front- this does not read like a typical historical fiction story per say. There are times it reads more like a non-fiction biography, reporting more than weaving a tale. But, this book is SOO worth reading.

It highlights one of the most important suffragette parades in American history and pays homage to a number of the most integral women to the cause. Alice Paul, Ida Wells Barnett, Maud Malone, “General” Rosalie Jones – how many of these women do you know? I know it was my first time hearing a few names.  To get a first-hand look at what these courageous women were willing to do to have their voices heard- get a copy of this book!

Top 10 Historical Fiction Books of 2021

2. The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan– In a new spin on a World War II novel, four women compete for a spot hosting a women’s cookery show on a BBC radio program. They come from extremely different walks of life and therefore have been affected by the war differently. I enjoyed this book a lot because it was very different than the usual London- surviving the Blitz focused type read from this era. I also very much enjoyed the stories of these women and how they ended up intersecting as the story went on. Overall, if you’re looking for a more heart-warming read- this is it!

Top 10 Historical Fiction Books of 2021

3.  Velvet was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia– Hailed as a “delicious, twisted treat for lovers of noir” this novel is far from light and heart-warming!

It’s 1970s in Mexico City and political unrest is rampant. For Maite, a daydreaming secretary, her only worry has been when she can get the next issue of her favorite soap opera comic to read. All that changes when her mysterious neighbor comes by with a request to watch her cat and then disappears. Suddenly, Maite is thrust into this world of secrets, political dissidents and shadowy enforcers.

This book really did remind me of a gritty, old Humphrey Bogart story. I enjoyed it immensely as you were forced to look deeply at these layered characters where no one is what they seem. By the end they even had me rooting for one of the anti-heroes!

4. The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien CharlesOh my goodness I LOVED this book! It takes place in two different time periods- Paris in 1939 and Montana in 1983. We follow Odile a heroic librarian at the American Library in Paris through World War II. We then see her again in Montana, living next door lonely teenager, Lily.

Although the plot and pacing in this book are also strong and fabulous, what really brings it to life are the characters. This is truly a character driven book that forces you to take a deep look at human nature- the good, bad and ugly in us all. This is definitely a Must Read!

5. The Perishing by Natashia DeonWhoo, what a whirlwind read. There’s an air of the supernatural in this one.

Lou, (a black immortal who continually gets reborn in different bodies, gender changes, but never race) wakes up in an alley in the 1930s with no memory of who she is. Taken in by a kind foster family she works to put her mysterious origins behind her and goes on to become the first Black female journalist at the Los Angeles Times. All is going well until she meets a firefighter who she’s never met, but realizes she’s been drawing his face for years. Memories of her past lives come rushing back and she is forced to try and detangle them all to discover who she truly is.

This IS a great read, but I will caution, it’s a bit confusing. The narrative jumps around in time to Lou’s past lives and memories which can be jolting at first. But once it gets going, it is difficult to put down. I also appreciated the richly drawn setting and time period that Deon brings to life in Los Angeles during Prohibition. I definitely recommend if you’re looking for a heavier read that might require some more patience. This would actually be a good Book Club Read with plenty to discuss.

6. The Hour of the Witch by Chris BohjalianWho is up for a good witch trial? It’s Boston 1662 and a young Puritan woman, Mary, is in an abusive marriage. She tries to divorce him to save her life, but in a settlement where everyone is looking for signs of the devil, a woman like Mary, who is willing to be different and think for herself, is soon the object of suspicion herself.

This novel was written by the same author of The Flight Attendant which was not historical fiction. But he manages to bring that same twisted, thriller type writing alive here as well. I enjoyed the story very much and felt it definitely portrays some timely themes about American mob mentality and how divided we can become.

7. Our Woman in Moscow by Beatriz Williams- Spies, secrets and disappearances during the Cold War. How can that NOT be intriguing? It’s 1948 and Iris Digby vanishes overnight from her London home with her American diplomat husband and their two children. Four years later, Iris’s estranged twin sister, Ruth, receives a postcard alluding to Iris still being alive. Suddenly, Ruth is on her way to Moscow in what becomes a dangerous mission to extract the Digby family from behind the Iron Curtain.

This falls squarely into spy thriller territory, wrapped around some family drama. Add in the authentic time period details and it’s a fantastic ride. If you’re a fan of fast-paced thrillers, especially with some Russian KGB officers- then you’re in for a treat with this one!

8.Island Queen by Vanessa Riley- I just have one word to describe this book- Inspirational! This book is based off a true-life story and is truly a beautiful memorial.

Dorothy Kirwan Thomas (Doll) was born into slavery on the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat. Doll worked to eventually buy the freedom of her sister, mother and herself from her Irish planter father. She then proceeded against all odds to rise above the systems to become a successful business and land owner herself.

This story is an empowering read and should be taught as classroom curriculum! It’s not only a story of race, but a story of women rising above the bonds and expectations stacked against them.

Top 10 Historical Fiction Books

9. The Magician by Kathleen Shoop- This is for the baseball nut in all of us! A true American Dream tale!

Set in the Pennsylvania coal mining region during the Great Depression, Mary Musial is expecting again. After four daughters, her husband Lukasz is losing hope for a son. But Jupiter is rising when Stanisław Franciszek Musiał is born on November 21, 1920, and the midwife predicts he will live an extraordinary life. Sure enough, Stan Musial does later become one of America’s greatest baseball players, but that almost didn’t happen. Through beautiful storytelling and vivid scene work, Shoop introduces us to the Musial family and the sacrifice and love this family shared as Stan was often forced to choose between obligation and love of the game.

This book reminded me a bit of The Notebook or Water for Elephants in its storytelling style. It begins in the present with a hilarious escape scene from the old person’s home to then go “back in time” to what transpired. I enjoyed this book immensely and I’m not even usually a baseball fan. But I can definitely say books like this are what bring out that All-American nostalgia in us all.

10. The Queen’s Rival by Anne O’BrienFor the British history fans- here’s a fantastic new take on the War of Roses!

O’Brien takes on the story of Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, the woman who helped claim the throne for her family. As the War of Roses storms through the country, Cecily begins to plot to overthrow the weak King Henry VI. But when the Yorkists are defeated at the Battle of Ludford Bridge, Cecily’s family is forced to flee and she is left alone to be imprisoned. There she continues to plot behind the scenes until eventually her brother is on the throne.

Not only is Cecily Neville’s story impressive and exciting on its own, but O’Brien manages to tell it in a new and creative way. Each chapter is a letter from a different member of the family. At first I was nervous that there would be too many characters to keep track of. But surprisingly, O’Brien pulls it off. I actually found the letters to be a structured way to remain grounded while still getting a special close glimpse into the inner workings each character.

Overall, if you’re a British history buff- this is a can’t miss!

Follow up from Top 10 Historical Fiction Books of 2021 list

Thanks so much for reading this Top 10 Historical Fiction Books of 2021 list. I hope you enjoyed and found a few goodies to add to the TBR pile. Did you enjoy this list? Be sure to check out my Book Reviews page for more great recommendations! Also make sure you subscribe to my newsletter where I offer book suggestions each week.

Happy Holidays!