Are you looking for some great reads? What about some of the best book club books 2022? I’m aware, I’m a little off on my timing- forgive me, the year, as usual, is going faster than I plan. But, one of my resolutions this year was to give quarterly checkpoints of some of my favorite books of the year thus far. So, better late than never right? Here you go- my favorite books from 2022 thus far!
Calling all Gatsby fans! If you ever wondered more about the women in the famous tale- this is the book for you! Cantor does an amazing job telling The Great Gatsby from the POV of Daisy, Jordan and Catherine. She also adds in some mystery about who really killed Gatsby at the end of the story.
This historical fiction thriller follows an art thief and journalist in their cat and mouse game. “Woman on Fire” was the last famous painting created by Jewish artist, Ernst Engel, before he was taken by the Nazis. This books demonstrates how far people will go for art and questions the ambiguity that comes with determining ownership of paintings. Especially, those looted during the Holocaust. This is a sit on the edge of your seat Must Read!
Romania 1989. Communist regimes are crumbling across Europe, but for seventeen-year-old, Cristian, being a good citizen and obeying the regime is all he’s ever known.
This chilling tale puts you into the heart of the danger this family and teen experience every day. Who can you trust? And just how much are you willing to sacrifice before you stand up and say enough?
This was a thrilling read I could not put down. I was not familiar with Romanian history and although I’d read about Communist Russia- this close account truly made me feel the oppressive reality of the situation. I learned a lot while being entertained. Always a plus for me! 🙂
Not historical fiction, but just a REALLY good book!! I predict this will be one of the top talked about books of the year!
For starters, it’s meant to be dystopian, yet it hits WAY close to home!
What is considered an unforgivable offense in parenting? Looking at your phone when your child falls at the playground? Leaving your child in the car alone for five minutes to run into the store when it’s raining?
Where is the line and who should determine it? And even more importantly– what should the punishment be?
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 of Great Reads
Do you know the history behind the LGBTQ movement? We all know there is still a long way to go in full acceptance of the LGBTQ community. But we must also celebrate how far society has come. Take a look at this LGBTQ Book List I’ve put together to learn about some of the courageous people who led these efforts!
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Celebrate the Magic of International Children’s Book Day!
April is a month chock full of opportunities to celebrate reading. There’s National Library Week April 3rd-April 9th. Then there’s D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) Day on April 12th. April 23rd is Shakespeare Day. And April 30th is El día de los niños, el día de los libros or Children’s Day, Book Day, a day to encourage family literacy.
But the celebration I want to discuss is International Children’s Book Day. This celebration began in 1967 to inspire a love for reading and to call attention to children’s books every April 2nd.
I love this celebration for a number of reasons. One, I stand behind the idea of stoking those burning desires for reading early. My children’s first regular outings were to the library, and to this day that remains our reward for everything. Both my children are as big of book nerds as me! A point of pride for this Book Mama!
But in addition to that early love of reading, there is something in particular about children’s books that is special. I firmly believe children’s literature should be held on a pedestal above any other genre. A good children’s book evokes feelings and creates cherished memories unlike any other. It can build safe spaces or entire worlds for us to escape. It also bonds and builds relationships.
I will never forget my father reading The Hobbit with me at bedtime growing up. Those evenings cuddled up next to him while he shared the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf are still among my favorite memories. And yet, I managed to replicate that joy when sharing one of my own childhood favorites with my son for the first time. It was like experiencing the magic of Harry Potter for the first time all over again!
It even inspired me to pick up a few of my other favorites from childhood to read on my own again. The joy was still there, despite the years gone by. In fact, I found I was able to enjoy them again in a completely different way with an entirely new layer of life experience and wisdom.
It made me think, why should the whimsical fun of children’s books be limited to children? Why should we wait until we’re reading to our own children to pick up a formative favorite?
The joy of reading does not need to be limited by our age. Embrace that inner child from time to time and slip back to that world from your childhood, I dare you! You might find there’s no better escape than not only departing to a new world than your own, but leaving behind the bonds of “adulting” as well. It might even make you smile… 😉
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. 🙂
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!
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!
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 Charles– Oh 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!
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 Bohjalian– Who 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.
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.
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.
Joyana is excited to begin her new Author Highlight series to build a true Book Community between Authors and Readers.Today’s Author Highlight features Bob Okowitz, an Irish Historical Fiction Writer.
Author Highlight-Meet Bob Okowitz:
Bob majored in English and History and worked in Social Work and Mental Health before finally returning to his roots and writing fiction. His novel was inspired by a trip to Ireland for a family reunion for his mother’s side of the family, the Duggans and McGraths. (He is 75% Irish.)
His book, Dug In, begins during the 1916 Irish Rebellion.
Ninety miles from Dublin, Joe Duggin and two friends are arrested to prevent them from getting involved in the fight for Independence. After being released when the rebellion is over, Joe and his wife, Mary, decide to move to New York to get away from the conflict and raise their children in peace. However, they find their share of persecution and injustice in America as well. What follows is their family’s struggle to find their place in what is supposed to be the Land of the Free.