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11 historical fiction books that will make you smarter

I'm a full-time freelance editor who loves to read and write about books. I'm a veteran audiobook fan and listen to books while indulging in some of my other favorite hobbies: cooking/baking, fitness walking, taking photographs, and maki...

History buffs will love these historical fiction books

One of the great joys of reading is to be transported to other places and times. So often we think of historical fiction as books about the Tudors (especially Henry VIII) or just as historical romance. But the genre can also introduce us to interesting people and help us understand the past. Don't know where to start reading? Here are some suggestions that will take you around the world and into the past.

1. Terrible Virtue

by Ellen Feldman

History buffs will love these historical fiction books
Image: Indie Bound

No matter what side of the aisle your political leanings have you, Planned Parenthood is a hot topic this election year. This book is the perfect way to learn more about Margaret Sanger, the nurse who founded the program to help women around the world.

More: 11 nonfiction books to help you start over in life

2. Salt to the Sea

by Ruta Sepetys

History buffs will love these historical fiction books
Image: Indie Bound

Few people now remember the unfathomable loss and the horrifying struggle for survival in the "single greatest maritime disaster in history," caused when Russian torpedoes brought down a former cruise ship filled with 10,000 refugees fleeing the ravages of World War II. This well-researched novel honors the human spirit.

3. Stars over Sunset Boulevard

by Susan Meissner

History buffs will love these historical fiction books
Image: Indie Bound

This novel takes us back to the golden years of Hollywood and onto the soundstage of one of the most beloved movies of all time: Gone with the Wind. Told from two time periods, this tale of glamour, secrets and friendships is the perfect escape from the modern world.

More: 12 dystopian novels where women kick the future's ass

4. Flight of Dreams

by Ariel Lawhon

History buffs will love these historical fiction books
Image: Indie Bound

Decades after the Hindenburg exploded over a New Jersey airfield, the cause of the disaster is still a mystery. This beautifully written novel is not only a fascinating, personal look at the passengers and crew on that fateful flight but a suspenseful take on how the airship was brought down.

5. Diamond Head

by Cecily Wong

History buffs will love these historical fiction books
Image: Indie Bound

Fate, history, and deeply buried secrets follow the Leongs from war-torn China to the beaches of Hawaii. The novel, a family saga, spans three generations and two countries in exploring the strength of our cultural past even as we make a life in a new world.

6. Circling the Sun

by Paula McLain

History buffs will love these historical fiction books
Image: Indie Bound

The milestones of history often fail to mark the brilliant successes of pioneering women. Beryl Markham, who grew up in colonial Kenya, opened doors for women in several fields, most notably aviation. Come meet her in this absorbing story of her life.

7. Into the Savage Country

by Shannon Burke

History buffs will love these historical fiction books
Image: Indie Bound

In the early 1800s, the American West was still a land mostly untouched by pioneers and white settlers. This story of a fur-trapping expedition examines culture clashes, friendship, and the beauty of the unsullied wilderness. Oh, and there's a little romance too.

8. I Always Loved You

by Robin Oliveira

History buffs will love these historical fiction books
Image: Indie Bound

Impressionism is one of the most loved art movements of the late 1800s. Although many of us recognize the name Edgar Degas, few know of his student, friend and possible lover Mary Cassatt. As told in this book, their story and that of the French art world is not to be missed.

9. Chasing the North Star

by Robert Morgan

History buffs will love these historical fiction books
Image: Indie Bound

Set in the pre–Civil War era, this novel is an action-packed tale of one teenage boy's escape from slavery. Based on historic fact, it's a tribute to personal strength and the power of hope.

10. Stones in the Road

by E.B. Moore

History buffs will love these historical fiction books
Image: Indie Bound

Based on the true story of the author's grandfather, this novel introduces us to a young man who flees the restrictions of his Pennsylvania Old Order Amish community to search out adventure in California in the late 1800s. After 10 years in the outside world, can Joshua find a home with the family he left behind?

11. Under the Wide and Starry Sky

by Nancy Horan

History buffs will love these historical fiction books
Image: Indie Bound

Robert Louis Stevenson is known for his great adventure stories, but were you aware he was a man of delicate health? This well-researched novel focuses on Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne, the author's American wife, and her role in keeping Stevenson grounded and comfortable, especially after they relocate to the South Pacific.

More: 12 spectacular young-adult books by diverse authors

History buffs will love these historical fiction books
Image: SheKnows


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