Do you enjoy historical fiction? Read on to learn about 20 of the best historical fiction books to add to your reading list.
20 of the best historical fiction books
Many people enjoy reading fictional stories with elements of real-life history, so it’s no surprise the historical fiction genre is so popular. Some historical fiction books are based on a true story, others are based on a true event, while others take place in real time periods throughout history.
Here, we’ll discuss 20 of the best historical fiction books.
20 historical fiction books you must read
If you’re a fan of good reads with a slice of real life, check out this list of 20 great historical fiction books:
The Underground Railroad
This novel by Colson Whitehead has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and many others. It tells the story of a young enslaved woman named Cora who is looking for a way toward freedom. She travels via the Underground Railroad, i.e., a railroad system with secret routes and safe houses.
Wolf Hall is written by Hilary Mantel, an award-winning author. The historical novel tells the story of Thomas Cromwell, an English statesman who served as chief minister to King Henry VIII. From his perspective, we see the most critical events in the Tudor family and England.
All the Light We Cannot See
This novel was written by Anthony Doerr and set during World War II. It’s a story of two children, a German orphan boy and a blind French girl. This heartbreaking novel describes how wars ruin childhoods but also discusses hope, courage, and innocence.
The Book Thief
In this novel, author Markus Zusak focuses on Nazi Germany at the beginning of World War II. He tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living near Munich who discovers books. With the help of her foster father, she learns how to read and shares the books with neighbors and a Jewish man hidden in the basement.
This novel, written by Kristin Hannah, tells the stories of the endurance of women during World War II. It focuses on two sisters, Isabelle and Vianne Mauriac, who get separated due to different circumstances but do everything they can to survive in German-occupied France.
A Gentleman in Moscow
This novel, written by Amor Towles, is set in Russia in the 1920s. The main character is Alexander Rostov, who is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a fascinating hotel across the Kremlin. His limited space unexpectedly opens the door to emotional discovery during these turbulent decades.
Gone with the Wind
Margaret Mitchell wrote this American classic. It focuses on a turbulent love affair while the Civil War rages in America. The title symbolizes the demise of the South before the war.
Yaa Gyasi, the author, tells the story of the descendants of two half-sisters, Esi and Effia, born in different villages in Ghana. One marries a British governor in charge of the Cape Coast Castle, while the other is held captive in the dungeons below it.
The Kingsbridge series
The Kingsbridge series is a collection of four books: The Evening and the Morning, The Pillars of Earth, World Without End, and A Column of Fire. The series discusses numerous historical events, the lives of monarchs, and life in England.
Memoirs of a Geisha
This novel tells the story of Chiyo Sakamoto/Sayuri Nitta and her path toward becoming and working as a geisha in Japan. It covers different time periods, starting before WWII and ending with the post-war years.
The Outlander series
This is a series of historical fantasy novels by Diana Gabaldon. It focuses on a 20th-century British nurse named Claire who time-travels to 18th-century Scotland and falls in love with a highland warrior, Jamie Fraser.
The Pillars of the Earth
This novel focuses on medieval England in the moment of a civil war, portraying Philip, a monk, and Tom, a builder, who join forces on a demanding project. This book is a part of the Kingsbridge series by Ken Follett.
The Red Tent
The Book of Genesis mentions the faith of Dinah in a story of Jacob and his 12 sons. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant tells Dinah’s story from her own perspective and provides details about the lives of women in early history.
A Rising Man
This novel takes us to Calcutta in 1919. We follow Captain Sam Wyndham, who’s looking for a fresh start after the Great War. He gets caught up in a murder investigation without having the time to adjust to the new environment.
This novel combines divine and historical elements and represents the retelling of an ancient Greek myth. It portrays Medusa, the only mortal in a family of gods. Growing up, she realizes she’s the only one who actually gets older, giving her a sense of urgency.
The Book of Longings
This New York Times bestseller follows Ana, a young woman who is promised to an older widower, and she can’t stand the thought of being married to him. After meeting Jesus, the two run away to Nazareth, to his mother Mary’s home, and get married.
War and Peace
Often described as the best novel not just of the 19th century but of all times, it deals with the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars and their effects on five Russian families. The smooth narrative and exceptional details make this novel fascinating.
This is a historical fiction novel set during the period of Italian unification called the Risorgimento. It describes the transformations that occurred between the Congress of Vienna in 1815 and the naming of Rome as the capital of Italy in 1871 through the struggles of the royal House of Salina.
This novel by Margaret Atwood follows the story of Grace Marks, who has been convicted for her involvement in a triple murder. Although many believe she’s guilty, Grace claims she has no memory of these events.
The Land Beyond the Sea
This novel is set in Jerusalem and Europe in the 12th century. It focuses on Baldwin IV, the leader of the growing kingdom of Jerusalem. Baldwin can trust only a handful of people to help him protect the kingdom against the Muslim army.
More great titles
Other popular historical fiction books include Beloved by Toni Morrison, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, and A Jewish Girl in Paris by Melanie Levensohn. You can find more new book recommendations on Goodreads or numerous online book clubs.
Find historical fiction on Speechify Audiobooks
If you want to listen to historical fiction audiobooks, Speechify Audiobooks is an excellent choice. The platform is easy to use and offers many features that can enhance your experience, from high-quality narration to controlling the playback speed. Here, you can explore books like Gone With the Wind, The Name of the Rose, The Four Winds, and many others.
Try out Speechify Audiobooks today.