Top Ten Books Every History Lover Should Read

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is: Top Ten Books For Every X To Read.  Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, second only to Fantasy so it only made sense for me to choose historical fiction for this week’s TTT.  In no particular order, here we go…


  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – Really the entire series works well for any history lover because there is so much history involved in the series.  The first book revolves around 1743 in the Scottish Highlands.  Such a great series.
  • Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden – This book is a great read for anyone interested in what life was like for a geisha before, during, and after WWII.
  • A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley – This book had a really fascinating story with flashbacks to the past through the journal of an exiled Jacobite, Mary Dundas.  I thoroughly enjoyed this story.
  • Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier – Almost any book written by Tracy Chevalier would be great for history lovers.  I have only read this one and Lady and the Unicorn but both are really fascinating imaginings of the story behind these works of art and the artists who created them.
  • The Outlander by Gil Adamson – An exciting journey of a young widow escaping from her two brother-in-laws who are pursuing her for the murder of her abusive husband.  It takes place in 1903 in Alberta, Canada.


  • The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory – Any book by Philippa Gregory is a great choice, especially if you love the history of Tudor England.  I have a big collection of her books because that is one of my favorite history subjects so it is fun to read historical fiction to go along with it.
  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – A no brainer for the Civil War and reconstruction history buff.  This will forever be one of my favorite books.
  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver – It’s been years since I have read this book but it is a great one.  A missionary family travels to the Congo in 1959 and go through many struggles and build themselves back up over the course of three decades.
  • The Reader by Bernhard Schlink – This is the story of a teenage German boy who meets a German woman and they have an affair.  Later in the boy’s life he is a law student witnessing the woman being on trial for a horrid crime.  He struggles to watch her refuse to release the one piece of fact that could clear her because it is a secret she regards more shameful than murder.  Such a good book.
  • Atonement by Ian McEwan – This is a bit of a tough one to describe but it starts out in the 1930s in England and moves forward through to WWII, revolving around the lives of sisters Briony and Cecelia, and their friend Robbie Turner.  Beautiful prose as well as an interesting story and setting make this a great book.

Are you a history lover?  What are some of your favorite historical fiction books?

21 thoughts on “Top Ten Books Every History Lover Should Read

    • I definitely feel you on the intimidation factor. I had it on my Kindle for a couple of years before I finally decided to break down and read it. I wish I had read it sooner because it is so good. The length doesn’t really seem to have an effect because it is such a page turner. 🙂

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  1. Great list! Gone With the Wind is one of my all-time favorite books! I also love Outlander and Phillipa Gregory’s books, but Atonement was too depressing for me haha. I’ve recently read a few YA westerns that were surprisingly really good, but really I’m a sucker for a good WWII novel. The Nightingale is one of my all time favorites! 🙂

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  2. I also love historical fiction and Susanna Kearsley is one of my favourite authors; I recently loved her book Named of the Dragon. I have also really enjoyed The King’s Sister by Anne O’Brien and The May Bride by Suzannah Dunn (you might enjoy the latter too as it is about Jane Seymour).

    I took part in Top Ten Tuesday this week and did my list for classic lovers: 🙂


  3. Great list! I love historical fiction too, it’s one of my favorite genres! I love the Outlander series and really want to try a Susanna Kearsley book! I haven’t read Gone with the Wind but I’ve always been curious. A few of my favorite hist fic books are Tarnish by Katherine Longshore, Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, Mary Called Magdalene, and Cleopatra, both by Margaret George, Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (soooo good!), and everything by Kate Morton. She’s my favorite author 🙂

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