Recommended Historical Fiction

This is the list for your recommendations of good fiction set in a time before the author was born --NOT any old book set in a time that's now past, nor books about modern people who happen to be researching past history! :-) Okay? (Also, let's NOT include alternate world scenarios --just settings in actual history.)
488

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4.96 avg rating — 25 ratings
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502

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4.21 avg rating — 736 ratings
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502

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3.79 avg rating — 272 ratings
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502

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3.95 avg rating — 133 ratings
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505

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4.52 avg rating — 132 ratings
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506

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3.87 avg rating — 846 ratings
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507

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3.83 avg rating — 978 ratings
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507

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3.96 avg rating — 196 ratings
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509

by
4.22 avg rating — 368 ratings
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509

by
3.96 avg rating — 46 ratings
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511

by
4.23 avg rating — 5,513 ratings
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512

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4.19 avg rating — 3,589 ratings
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512

by
4.47 avg rating — 105 ratings
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514

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3.53 avg rating — 2,858 ratings
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515

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3.76 avg rating — 1,714 ratings
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516

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4.17 avg rating — 5,044 ratings
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517

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3.40 avg rating — 9,832 ratings
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518

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4.28 avg rating — 6,855 ratings
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518

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4.33 avg rating — 13,681 ratings
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520

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4.19 avg rating — 16,667 ratings
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521

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4.03 avg rating — 3,101 ratings
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522

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3.40 avg rating — 1,932 ratings
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523

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3.70 avg rating — 314 ratings
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523

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4.30 avg rating — 27,370 ratings
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525

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3.91 avg rating — 690 ratings
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525

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4.06 avg rating — 1,892 ratings
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527

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4.06 avg rating — 6,351 ratings
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528

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4.07 avg rating — 998 ratings
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528

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3.65 avg rating — 10,394 ratings
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530

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3.89 avg rating — 4,731 ratings
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531

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4.10 avg rating — 787 ratings
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531

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4.82 avg rating — 22 ratings
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533

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4.05 avg rating — 12,428 ratings
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534

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3.59 avg rating — 1,571 ratings
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535

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4.06 avg rating — 2,662 ratings
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535

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4.36 avg rating — 28,049 ratings
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537

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3.36 avg rating — 87,907 ratings
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538

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3.75 avg rating — 17,411 ratings
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538

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3.84 avg rating — 7,403 ratings
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540

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4.13 avg rating — 20,155 ratings
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541

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3.95 avg rating — 17,606 ratings
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542

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3.74 avg rating — 1,140 ratings
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542

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3.98 avg rating — 3,591 ratings
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542

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4.12 avg rating — 2,720 ratings
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545

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4.07 avg rating — 5,286 ratings
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545

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4.21 avg rating — 11,769 ratings
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545

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3.84 avg rating — 3,597 ratings
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548

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2.89 avg rating — 9 ratings
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549

by
3.69 avg rating — 44,309 ratings
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549

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3.98 avg rating — 5,459 ratings
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549

by
4.06 avg rating — 10,655 ratings
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552

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3.89 avg rating — 3,736 ratings
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552

by
4.54 avg rating — 72 ratings
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554

by
3.88 avg rating — 17 ratings
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554

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4.20 avg rating — 10,789 ratings
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554

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3.25 avg rating — 23,619 ratings
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557

by
3.41 avg rating — 269 ratings
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557

by
4.10 avg rating — 75,022 ratings
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557

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3.85 avg rating — 1,580,699 ratings
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560

by
4.28 avg rating — 1,916 ratings
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561

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4.02 avg rating — 25,064 ratings
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562

by
4.02 avg rating — 6,834 ratings
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563

by
3.91 avg rating — 2,067 ratings
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563

by
3.87 avg rating — 5,795 ratings
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565

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4.11 avg rating — 3,869 ratings
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565

by
3.63 avg rating — 5,777 ratings
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567

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3.69 avg rating — 7,833 ratings
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567

by
3.83 avg rating — 478 ratings
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569

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3.99 avg rating — 20,852 ratings
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570

by
4.07 avg rating — 838 ratings
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571

by
4.08 avg rating — 312 ratings
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571

by
3.94 avg rating — 83,360 ratings
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571

by
4.08 avg rating — 3,402 ratings
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571

by
4.07 avg rating — 28,877 ratings
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571

by
3.92 avg rating — 2,452 ratings
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576

by
3.89 avg rating — 54 ratings
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576

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3.69 avg rating — 2,927 ratings
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576

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4.03 avg rating — 3,221 ratings
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576

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4.05 avg rating — 117,253 ratings
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580

by
4.17 avg rating — 72 ratings
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580

by
3.97 avg rating — 70 ratings
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580

by
3.75 avg rating — 940 ratings
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580

by
3.95 avg rating — 3,653 ratings
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584

by
3.52 avg rating — 1,346 ratings
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584

by
3.44 avg rating — 188 ratings
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584

by
3.88 avg rating — 67 ratings
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587

by
really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 2,068 ratings
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587

by
3.88 avg rating — 8,276 ratings
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589

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4.09 avg rating — 2,838 ratings
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589

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4.48 avg rating — 1,320 ratings
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589

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3.98 avg rating — 605,824 ratings
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592

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3.85 avg rating — 6,690 ratings
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593

by
3.95 avg rating — 13,894 ratings
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594

by
4.19 avg rating — 26 ratings
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595

by
3.97 avg rating — 126 ratings
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596

by
3.87 avg rating — 243 ratings
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597

by
4.17 avg rating — 5,695 ratings
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598

by
3.87 avg rating — 1,945 ratings
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599

by
3.79 avg rating — 13,971 ratings
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600

by
3.87 avg rating — 5,685 ratings
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2,476 books · 2,668 voters · list created January 18th, 2009 by Werner (votes) .
279 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Werner 1859 books
162 friends
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads 2965 books
732 friends
Bettie☯ 14242 books
246 friends
Cheryl Niepomnik 651 books
62 friends
Lars 980 books
52 friends
Anam 620 books
3 friends
Laura 10559 books
243 friends
Hanna 6597 books
75 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-50 of 56) (56 new)


message 1: by Seth (new)

Seth Several of these don't seem to fit the requirement of "set before the author was born." Should some librarian go through and prune, or just live with it?


message 2: by Werner (new)

Werner Seth, I'm the list's creator/moderator (and also a Goodreads librarian); but because of limited time, I don't monitor it as closely as I probably should, and I also haven't read a number of the listed books, so can't make that kind of call in most of those cases. I'll give it a going-over now, and delete anything I see that shouldn't be there; but maybe any other librarians who read this will want to help, too? Thanks for letting us know about the problem!


message 3: by Seth (new)

Seth I'm happy to note any books that don't seem right (1984 by Orwell springs to mind... certainly not *historical* to him!). I'm a librarian as well but I don't want to go removing people's votes from a list without either consensus or the list creator approving.


message 4: by Werner (last edited Jun 21, 2010 05:01PM) (new)

Werner Yes, 1984 was one of the five books I just deleted. I jotted down four more titles with 20th- century settings that are "iffy," but I'll need to check the author's birthdates; and I'll be leaving on vacation tomorrow for a week, so can't do that until I return. In the meantime, Seth, you have my permission to remove anything that you know was set in the author's own time; I created this list for genuine historical fiction, in the genre sense!


message 5: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Jun 22, 2010 10:41AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Ones that are not historical fiction, in my view:

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott (set in 1860s and 70s, LMA was born in 1832)
Fatherland, by Robert Harris (I am very dubious. Hitler wasn't still Fuhrer in our 1961.)
What is the What? by Dave Eggers (set in very recent Sudan)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Set, I believe, in the 1850s, when Mr. Twain was a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi.)


message 6: by Werner (new)

Werner Susanna, thanks for your helpful feedback! (And sorry I took so long to respond; you posted on the day I left on vacation, and I haven't been back long.) Someone else must have deleted the Eggers book, and I evidently got Little Women when I went through the list last week; but I can't believe I missed Huckleberry Finn! I've just deleted that one, and the Harris book as well.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Little Women is still there, I see, so I'll just remove it.


message 8: by Werner (new)

Werner Thanks, Susanna! I've now missed it twice; mea culpa. :-)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Is Am I Not A Man? The Dred Scott Story history, or historical fiction? It looks like history to me from the description, but I haven't read it.


message 10: by Werner (new)

Werner Susanna, I have the same question, but I haven't read it either. I'll do some more checking on that!


message 11: by Werner (new)

Werner Susanna, the Library of Congress' assigned subject headings for the Shurtleff book identify it as fiction, and so does the catalog record for it in World Catalog. So I'd say that it does belong here.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads OK - I honestly couldn't tell from the description! Thanks.


message 13: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Mar 10, 2011 09:02AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I didn't think The Jungle was historical fiction; didn't Sinclair set that novel in his own time?

ETA: Northanger Abbey is historical fiction??


message 14: by Werner (new)

Werner No, Susanna, neither of those are historical fiction! I haven't checked over this list lately; I see I need to do that ASAP. Since I posted clear guidelines at the top, when I created the list, for what goes on it and what doesn't, I never expected a problem; but I guess not everybody actually reads that part. (Sigh!)


message 15: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Mar 10, 2011 09:23AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I'm just shocked Twilight hasn't crept on.


message 16: by Misfit (new)

Misfit Susanna wrote: "I'm just shocked Twilight hasn't crept on."

It will eventually :p


message 17: by Werner (new)

Werner Well, I'm a Twilight series fan myself; but if anyone tries to claim it's historical fiction and puts it on here, either of us that catches it can delete it on sight! :-) Okay, I've deleted the two books you spotted, as well as What Is the What and Elie Wiesel's Night. (I didn't check the last two pages this time, but hopefully they're free of any anomalies.) I'll try to do a more thorough check later.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads It's like weeding a garden.


message 19: by Werner (new)

Werner Very true! :-)


message 20: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Mar 10, 2011 10:27AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I think I also saw North and South by Mrs. Gaskell on here; I am dubious about that one as well. Written in 1855; set, I think, a little earlier than that (like a lot of Dickens), but within the author's lifetime (b. 1810). (The same reason I didn't vote for Vanity Fair, a superb novel.)


message 21: by Werner (new)

Werner Thanks, Susanna! I'll be on the lookout for those two.


message 22: by Werner (new)

Werner Susanna, I've checked over the rest of the list, and Vanity Fair was apparently deleted already. North and South is on here; but it turns out to be the one by John Jakes (set during the Civil War), not the one with the same title by Mrs. Gaskell. So, we're in good shape for the moment!


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Alrighty then!


message 24: by Myles (new)

Myles Forgive my presumption, but I was just passing through and I noticed Angels and Demons on the list and deleted it.


message 25: by Werner (new)

Werner No presumption at all --that's clearly not historical fiction in the sense that we're concerned with here! Thanks, Myles.


message 26: by Bill (new)

Bill Whitaker FYI, Gaskell's North and South is back in, along with Jakes's.


message 27: by Werner (new)

Werner Thanks for the heads-up, Bill. I've just tracked it down and deleted it --again. (Sigh!) It's a never-ending job.


message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

I just spotted The Hunger Games number 343 which needs to be deleted.


message 29: by Werner (new)

Werner Done! Thanks for catching that, Alice.


message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Werner wrote: "Done! Thanks for catching that, Alice."

I was going down the list last night to see what I missed.


message 31: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Jan 24, 2013 01:26PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I see Pride and Prejudice has crept on (currently #51). Miss Austen was writing about her own time. You want me to delete it, Werner?

ETA: Also, Seabiscuit (#69) is non-fiction. As is John Paul Jones: Finding the Forgotten Patriot (#177).

Little Women is back, at #96.


message 32: by Werner (new)

Werner Yes, Susanna, you can delete all four of those! Thanks for your help; it's much appreciated. (Tending to these lists is like keeping a garden weeded; it's a never-ending task!)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads No problem.

I just noticed that All Quiet on the Western Front is at #139.


message 34: by Werner (new)

Werner Thanks for catching that, Susanna! I just deleted that one, too.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads What about To Kill a Mockingbird, which is in the 360s?


message 36: by Werner (last edited Feb 07, 2013 11:18AM) (new)

Werner That's not historical fiction either; Harper Lee was born in 1926, and sets the novel in the mid-1930s, when she was about Scout's age. I'll delete that one too, Susanna, thanks for catching it!


message 37: by Peter (new)

Peter Lahaderne How on Earth is the entire Saxon Stories series by Bernard Cornwell on this list, but none of the Sharpe series?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads You could add them; it's easy to add books to lists. At the top of the list, at the tab next to "all votes."


message 39: by Werner (new)

Werner Yes, Peter, by all means add the Sharpe series, if you've read the books and can recommend them! My guess is that whoever added the Saxon series hadn't read the Sharpe books --I haven't either, though I've seen and really liked a couple of the adaptations on DVD. (I do have the first three books of yet another Cornwell series, his Starbuck Chronicles, on my to-read shelf; they were a gift from my son-in-law.)


message 40: by Ankit (new)

Ankit Agrawal I am a great fan of historical fiction. Its my favorite genre along with family saga's. Glad I found this list. It would be my pleasure to contribute to this list and learn from it as well.

Werner and Susanna, you two seem to be doing a great. I would like to help as well.


message 41: by Ankit (new)

Ankit Agrawal I was quite surprised not to see Kane and Abel on the list. So I added that. Its one of my favorites of all time.


message 42: by Werner (new)

Werner Thanks for the encouragement, Ankit! Yes, by all means add any good historical fiction you've read that you'd like to recommend to others; that's how this list (and other lists on here) get built up. (You don't need anybody's permission to add books to a Goodreads list. :-) )


message 43: by Mary (new)

Mary Beth Misfit wrote: "Susanna wrote: "I'm just shocked Twilight hasn't crept on."

It will eventually :p"


That is hilarious, but sadly true!


message 44: by Jeannie (new)

Jeannie Hudson Someone who's read THE RED TENT, what did you think?


message 45: by Jeannie (new)

Jeannie Hudson Jeannie HudsonJeannie Hudson

This my own historical suspense. One of the best! No
kidding. I have the reviews to prove it.


message 46: by Jeannie (new)

Jeannie Hudson Someone who's read THE RED TENT, what did you think?


message 47: by Werner (new)

Werner Jeannie, if you think your book(s) should be on this list, go ahead and add it. Any member of Goodreads can add books to lists, as well as vote for ones that are already here.

I've never read The Red Tent, though it's been recommended to me. But hopefully some of the other people who've commented on this list have!


message 48: by Jeannie (new)

Jeannie Hudson Thanks, Werner. I appreciate your comments.


message 50: by blueemerald (new)

blueemerald Hello~
Wanted to mention a revised reading list that folks might enjoy. It is a Historical Fiction Series list. It is lengthy and well organized into various sections (military, nautical, ancient world, family saga, set in Europe....).

I'm putting this link out there with enthusiastic hopes that someone(s) will discover a new series to dive into!

http://1mpages.com/HistoricalFiction....


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