Hey there to all my bookish friends!
I have recently read a few historical fictions, which I LOVE! I find that every time I read one I put the book down feeling this sense of awe and wonder. I think it has a little to do with my love for history but also because there is something really special about the stories from the past. I tend to read WW2 historical fictions but have ventured to other time periods. I just love the war times. Those seem to be the stories that draw me in the most!! I don’t know if that is weird? I know a lot of people feel the same way though.
I often find I am pushing all these historical fiction books on my IG and most people seem to like them and add them to their reading lists but some people just are not on board with the historical fiction train and THAT IS OKAY! However, I am going to share with you why I love these books so much and I will share some books I’ve recently read that you NEED to read if you enjoy these books like I do!
Sooooo, lets get this list going!
What I mean by this is that, I find SO much of my empathy for others has come from books. This is a general point I suppose since you can gain feelings of empathy from any story – however, I find my empathy grows so significantly when I read historical fiction.
I am taken to a time of fear and hatred. It allows me to be in someone else’s shoes and see life from their point of view. Sometimes its from the “good guys” side, but sometimes its from the “bad guys” side and you know what? Every single time I see the good in people whether they are “bad” or “good” because there is much more to peoples stories than what we see in the history books.
Strong Relationships Between Characters
I especially love reading about all the characters and their connections to others. It is SO different than what I am used to. First off, there is always so much urgency in historical fiction. Characters have to be so strong but also leave nothing unsaid because there is a chance tomorrow will not come. I find this very touching and it always reminds me to be more present in my day to day life!
Relationships between family is always big in these stories. Many times families are torn apart or are away from each other for a very long time. This of course still happens to many people who have family in the military or people who are living through wars right now. It is eye opening to say the least, which is why I enjoy that aspect of these stories so much! Each relationship means so much and is not taken for granted (at least not very often).
So, it goes without saying that war brings a lot of tension. I like this part. I like feeling tense and on my toes. I like to feel like I am IN the book and experiencing war with the characters in the book. If the author does it right then you are taken into the book and feel every bomb drop, you feel the fear of being seen by the wrong person, or feel the anger between soldiers. I just feel that tension makes the story feel real.
I feel like suspense and tension go hand in hand. The reason I separated them was because there is a difference between the tense atmosphere and the fear of death or the fear of uncertainty. I find that even though I know what happened in the war (since, duh, its over and everyone knows who “won” and who “lost”), I still am on the edge of the seat because I DON’T know what happened to the particular characters in the story. Even better is that a lot of historical fictions are based on a true story or on real people. I find it makes me so much more nervous during the story because I just want everyone to be okay.
Something I’ve realized in life and especially by reading a lot of historical fiction is that, not everyone ends up okay. A lot of people don’t get a happy ending. As much as it hurts my heart reading about people not getting the ending they should, it sure makes for a good, gripping story.
I like the fact that sometimes I feel uncomfortable reading some of the events that occur in historical fiction books. It shows that I am learning and growing. It also points out that maybe I feel a certain way about something and that I need to be more open minded. This ties back to empathy. By feeling these weird, unfamiliar feelings, I actually grow and change my perspectives on people and the world. It makes me feel things I haven’t felt before.
Another aspect of unfamiliar feelings is the feeling of total despair and loss. I have never lived through a war. I really haven’t had too many truly negative things happen to me. By reading some of these tragic stories it makes me feel things I haven’t had to deal with before. Sometimes it makes me angry that certain events happened to people. Sometimes I cry while reading the stories because it is SO UNFAIR and the hatred seeps off the pages into me. I have to say I am quite emotional already so maybe this isn’t normal, but it is the truth for me.
This also comes off as kind of a negative…. you are probably thinking “why do you want to read something that hurts your heart and makes you angry?” Simple. I think that it makes me a better person knowing the horrible things that have happened whether the story is 100% true or not. Somewhere and sometime, something like the story or way worse has happened and I think the stories need to be told so people like me, living a privileged life, can connect to people who were not so lucky. I personally think, that is a huge reason to read historical fiction.
I LOVE Europe and foreign places that are not Canada and the US. Don’t get me wrong, I still love stories that are set in the Western world and I obviously connect to those stories and characters well. However, I have been to Europe and have seen some historical spots that really made my love for history grow. So, its pretty simple – I just like stories set in Europe and that just happens to be where a lot of historical fiction books are set!
Hope For The Future
When I read historical fiction, especially ones that have a large emphasis on the wars and the hatred people have for the “other side” like say WW2 and the hatred for the Germans – when the story ends and the war is over, I feel like I have hope for the world. I know there are so many negative things happening in the world today, but when you read these stories and see one of the biggest wars resolved and people coming back together and life going back to normal, it feels hopeful to me. I love that feeling when you put the book down and things feel resolved and since the stories are usually so profound and meaningful, it just feels so much more hopeful!
Maybe I have just been lucky with the books I have read lately, but I find the writing of historical fictions to be amazing. The authors seem to do such a great job of telling a crazy story and also using the language of the time and facts from the time/place. Obviously I know this is what “makes” the book for any story but I just find that the writing in these books to be so flowy and easy to read. Again, this is not ALL historical fictions, just the ones I have read.
I don’t know why but romantic relationships during the war times always feel like EXTRA romantic to me. You know the story – two people fall in love but they are from different “sides” and cannot be together. Then, the boy has to go to war and doesn’t see the girl for a few years. The girl waits for him and then one day, he comes back to her and they get married and everything is fab. THIS is what keeps me going 😂 Not all stories have this type of romance. Some end really sad with the boy dying in the war and the girl finding out many years later. Or the couple gets separated, never to see each other again. Obviously, there is more sad than happy BUT when the romance does work out, it is so unlike anything else. Its the love against all odds type stuff and I just am all for that.
Past to Present
Something I really like is when a historical fiction has the character living their life in the past (like telling their story in say 1940) but then flips to the present day where they are older. I just really like this style. It gives me some reassurance that the character made it out of the war which calms me down during the crazy parts. It also sometimes adds a depth to the character, especially when the character reflects on their past and how it molded their life and when they talk about their regrets and whatnot. I just love that in a historical fiction!!
That was long!! So, if you made it this far… thanks for reading 😊 Here are some books I totally recommend if you enjoy historical fiction:
- The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles
- All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doeer
- The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull
- The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel
- The German Heiress by Anika Scott
- The Agency series by Y.S Lee (these are a little more mystery historical fiction)
- The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (this is a MUST for anyone who really like history and war themed books… heartbreaking but such a good read).
As usual, thanks for stopping by! Leave some historical fiction recs in the comments, I always love to find some new ones to read!!