In 2016 I set a challenge for myself. I read 25 books, but I didn’t have any criteria for which books I read. In 2017 I want to read history and historical fiction books. My list isn’t too long, so if you have any recommendations please send them my way!
Our world is in such a crazy place right now, and it’s hard to see a path through all the darkness. I think looking to and learning from the past is a good place to start, so I’m doing just that. During my college and graduate school careers I studied abroad in Europe numerous times. Now, the world seems like such a dangerous place it’s hard to imagine making the same decisions in this environment. I’m hoping this endeavor will help me better understand our country, as well as the world at large.
Alexander Hamilton, Ron Chernow
The inspiration behind the Broadway musical Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton is the recent biography by Ron Chernow. I haven’t taken an American history course in a number of years, so I don’t know as much as I should about historical figures, especially those essential to the founding of America. I’m looking forward to diving into this extensive biography!
All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
Admittedly, All the Light We Cannot See has been on my “must read” list for awhile. It’s time to tackle it. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2016, All the Light We Cannot See centers of the crossing paths of a French girl and a German boy during WWII. I’ve heard from friends that this one can be a bit emotional to read, so I’m planning to take my time with Anthony Doerr’s best seller.
Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen
Written by American singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run is his autobiography. Born in Freehold, New Jersey, Springsteen is an American icon. My family is from New Jersey, and my parents grew up listening to Bruce and the E Street Band. One of my aunts tells a story about Bruce coming to perform in a house on her college campus - talk about an amazing experience and memory!
Dead Wake, Erik Larson
I previously read In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson, and I was enthralled by his storytelling and ability to bring history to life. Dead Wake is the story of the Lusitania, a luxury ocean liner caught in the midst of the Atlantic (ocean) war zone during WWI. The story of the Titanic is so well-known, and while not to be dismissed, it’s clear there was another ocean liner tragedy during the early years of the 20th century.
Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance
J.D. Vance grew up in working-class America and went on to graduate from Yale Law School. The Economist says “You will not read a more important book about America this year,” and given the recent change in political culture in America, I’m very interested to read Hillbilly Elegy.
The Light in the Ruins, Chris Bohjalian
Set in Italy during WWII, The Light in the Ruins tells the story of an Italian family’s life interrupted by German and French soldiers. Last year I read The Nightingale, which was set in occupied France. I’m looking forward to reading about occupied Italy to gain further insight into WWII.
The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
Oprah’s Book Club pick, The Underground Railroad takes on the massively important topic of slavery and the fight for freedom. I'm looking forward to diving into this one, but I know it will be a heavy topic.
Washington: A Life, Ron Chernow
Written by the same author as Alexander Hamilton, Washington: A Life takes a look at the life of the first President of the United States of America. A friend recommended this book to me once he heard I was reading history books this year.
Victoria: A Novel of a Young Queen, Daisy Goodwin
The inspiration behind the upcoming BBC series Victoria, Victoria: A Novel of a Young Queen explores the life and reign of Queen Victoria. I loved The American Heiress, so I’m expecting nothing less from Victoria: A Novel of a Young Queen.