Historical fiction has always been one of my favorite genres. In fact, many of my favorites within the genre also make my overall list of favorites. I realized recently that I’ve been reading a lot less of it than I used to, and I think it’s because for the past couple years, I’ve been making it a point to read more diversely. I guess I’d never noticed how much historical fiction is written by white women. It’s great that women do well in this genre, but I hope we’ll continue to get more authors of color in there, as well.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon—this is the only one of Chabon’s books I’ve read, and I was very impressed with it. I didn’t even like comic books at the time, which makes me think I’d like to read it again now that I have that added element of interest.
Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns—All I remember of this book is that the protagonist’s grandfather does what makes him happy regardless of how his petty neighbors judge him for it. That’s a theme I want to read more of.
The Color Purple, by Alice Walker—I wish I’d written a review of this when I finished it; all I wrote on Goodreads was, “This might be one of my favorite books of all time. I read it all in one morning and finished with tears in my eyes.”
Euphoria, by Lily King—A fascinating story of anthropologists in Papua New Guinea in the 1930s. It’s based on the life of Margaret Mead, and although I deeply despise love triangles, I think the setting was unique enough that I didn’t mind it.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows—I’ve read this book in print and listened to the audio, and both times I loved it. It’s been such a popular book club choice that many of you have probably read it, so you know for yourselves.
The Hope Chest, by Karen Schwabach—The only fiction I’ve ever read about the suffrage movement of the early 1900s. I loved it.
I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan
The Kitchen God’s Wife, by Amy Tan—I was very into Amy Tan several years ago, and although I’ve forgotten details, I remember loving this one even more than The Joy Luck Club.
The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver—So far I’ve loved most of Kingsolver’s books, and after The Poisonwood Bible, this is probably my favorite. It’s set in Mexico in the early 1900s, featuring Frida Kahlo, Diego Riveira, and Leon Trotsky as characters. I was just captivated by their story.
The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton—Nothing is worse for me than reading about the way people are tyrannized by religion, so this was upsetting as well as fascinating (17th-century Amsterdam is a setting I don’t think I’ve ever interacted with before).
My Name is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok
The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver—I started it for the first time my freshman year in college, and only got a few pages in before I quit. Five years later I decided to read it again, and I fell immediately in love. It’s been one of my all-time favorite books ever since.
Rush Oh!, by Shirley Barrett
Shanghai Girls, by Lisa See
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See
Aside from the largely white representation of authors, what this list brought to my attention is the fact that I’ve never written reviews for many of my favorite books (The Poisonwood Bible, seriously?). I suppose I read most of them before I started writing book reviews, and now that it’s been so long, I don’t remember enough details to be able to do it—which is the reason I started writing reviews in the first place. Luckily I’m a re-reader by nature; I just need to make sure I write down some thoughts the next time I make my way through these books.