6 Historical Fiction Picks for Book Clubs

6 Historical Fiction Picks for Book Clubs

Historical fiction can be an entertaining tool for learning about days past. It can also be much more. Many novels set in previous periods go beyond a simple rendering of life in a particular time and place in history. For instance, authors may take advantage of the freedom provided by writing outside of their own eras to play with the notion of time itself, or to examine deeper truths about humanity. Books that provide the fun opportunity to reflect on historical details while introducing larger thematic topics often make for great book club selections.

Below are six such books that come highly recommended from our reviewers, with reading guides to spark ideas for discussing them with your book group. Several of these novels employ multiple timelines or cover a longer span of time, and some include connections to well-known people or events but speak from perspectives that have not always been considered historically significant. They all put a unique and valuable spin on the genre.

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Sally Rooney's Dublin

In anticipation of the publication of Sally Rooney's Beautiful World, Where Are You September 7, we invite you to take a tour of Dublin from a literary perspective with our "beyond the book" article:

Bloomsday performers outside Davy Byrnes pubThe backdrop of Sally Rooney's Beautiful World, Where Are You is the city of Dublin and its environs. Rooney herself lives in this UNESCO City of Literature, a metropolis that boasts a flourishing literary scene and an impressive inventory of influential authors, poets and playwrights. The streets of the vibrant capital are infused with the presence of its bookish greats, with landmarks never more than a few minutes away.

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6 Novels to Take Your Book Group Across the Globe

6 books to take your book group across the globe

No matter where we are in the world, books offer us a way of traveling to locations different from our own. Below, we bring you a list of relatively recent novels available in paperback that can help your book club explore and contemplate locales all over the globe, from remote wilderness to bustling cities.

Half of the books feature journeys by water or by air, while the others dive deep into the intricate details of specific places. Two of them, The Paris Hours and The Devil and the Dark Water, will even allow your group to travel through time to bygone eras, in the City of Light and on the high seas respectively.

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Authors Who Switched Languages

Jhumpa Lahiri wrote her novel Whereabouts in Italian, a language she learned in adulthood, and later translated it into English. Many authors have at some time made the decision to become exophonic (to write in a language other than one's native tongue), whether for personal, artistic, practical or political reasons.

The author who is possibly best known for doing this is Irish writer Samuel Beckett, who famously adopted French in order to write "sans style" (without style). While he eventually returned to English, some of his most famous works were originally composed in French, including the play En attendant Godot (Waiting for Godot) and the trilogy of novels beginning with Molloy.

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Fresh Debut Fiction for Your Book Group

fiction debuts for book clubs

While happening upon a brilliant debut work of fiction is an exhilarating experience, it can be difficult to track down the best new books by emerging authors. It can also be challenging to decide which titles will be good choices for your book club without prior knowledge of the writers. So, here is a list of five spectacular debuts that have either recently been released in paperback or will be soon, and that we recommend for book club discussion.

Aside from all being debuts, all five offer unique perspectives on history or current events, spanning from the American Old West to 20th-century northern Vietnam to a fictional near-future. We're pleased to bring you these fresh and exciting literary voices and have reading guides for each to help ensure that your discussion experience goes smoothly.

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How to Have a Productive Book Club Discussion About Race

how to have a productive book club discussion about race

Over the past year, BookBrowse has been contacted many times by book club members asking for advice on how their group should approach discussing potentially sensitive topics, particularly relating to racial issues. While race is not the only topic that can be a challenge to discuss, it has been top of mind for many groups over the past year. In fact, in our October 2020 survey of more than 3,000 book club members, we found that 58% of US respondents said their book group had discussed racial issues during the year. And, of course, discussions are not just taking place in book clubs; according to a Pew survey published in June 2020, almost 70% of Americans said they had talked with family and friends about race and racial equality during the previous month.

With this in mind, here are some resources that BookBrowse's editorial team recommends to help these discussions be productive. Each takes a slightly different perspective, so one may resonate with you more than another.

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