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Thread: Historical fiction recommendations?

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    FORT Fogey candor's Avatar
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    Historical fiction recommendations?

    My brother put this on his Christmas wish list, but I'm clueless about the genre. Can anyone recommend some good books? I know he's read all the Bernard Cornwell and Larry McMurtry books. He's a huge fan of Mark Twain, John Steinbeck and J.R.R. Tolkien, if that's anything to go on. I'm stumped.
    "If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers

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    I won't forget Cootie's Avatar
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    Re: Historical fiction recommendations?

    Has he read "Sometimes a Great Notion" by Ken Kesey? A logging family story that I think at this point would qualify as historical fiction. And it is an Oregon story, as well.

    I know you are in Oregon and one of the places I would check would be Powell's book store. I was just there on Saturday for a number of hours. Before I visited I spent quite a bit on time searching on their website for staff recommendations in various genres and so I walked in with a list of things they had in stock at the store with the locations listed. It was great! They are having a special right now with free shipping for today only and I am seeing some books I missed so I might have to get more. We have a family book exchange and our gifts can even be books we have already, so it is a fun gifting experience.

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    Re: Historical fiction recommendations?

    If he's at all interested in British history, Sharon K. Penman writes some of the best historical fiction I've ever read. One of her series is about the Plantagenets and starts with Here Be Dragons. Very readable and historically accurate. I haven't read anything from her mystery series, but have read almost all of her straight historical fiction. She's probably my favorite writer in the genre.

    I'd also recommend Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth for British history and anything by Edward Rutherfurd - Sarum was my favorite, but I've read and loved all of his books.

    Even though it won the Man Booker Prize, I'd stay FAR away from Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. It was horrid. I got about 4 chapters in and couldn't do it. She refers to multiple characters as "he" without specifying which HE it is. Totally confusing. I remember reading a review that started with "He, he, he. Who the heck is HE?"

    I'm a fan of Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, much of which takes place in NYC. I don't know if it would be considered pure historical fiction, but I loved it. WWII, the birth of the comic book, wonderfully written. One of the favorite selections in 5+ years of my book club.

    I like the idea of going to an indie bookstore and asking for recommendations. I do that, but I also ask the employee for a list of their favorite books so I can get a "baseline" read. I mean, recommendations are all well and good, but how do I know that person doesn't have terrible taste?
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    FORT Fogey candor's Avatar
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    Re: Historical fiction recommendations?

    These are great recommendations. I got him Chabon's book two years ago, but he said he didn't like it. But it sounds like "Here Be Dragons" might be up his alley. And I know he likes Ken Follett. And Cootie, not only did I get him a Kesey book, the inside cover had an illustrated autograph that Kesey painted! I think I got it at Powell's after a signing. I'll check out their website.

    I struggle with this every year. I read only nonfiction and he reads only fiction and our twains never meet. Thanks all.
    "If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers

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    Best Ever Pool Runner Angry Birds Champion, Rancho Ice Racer Champion pikachu's Avatar
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    Re: Historical fiction recommendations?

    I'm not big on the genre but I've read one author whose books I liked--Pamela Kaufman. I first read The Shield of Three Lions, which I picked up from a discount bookstore and loved it so much I got Banners of Gold. I still haven't read The Book of Eleanor yet. I suppose it's more like a romance novel so not sure if you're brother would like it but it's hilarious, ribald and witty. I would recommend her books to people who like historical fiction.

    If he likes Tolkien, he might like Christopher Paolini. His series, Eragon, is about a boy who discovers a dragon egg and raises it, becoming a dragon rider.

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    FORT Fogey Florimel's Avatar
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    Re: Historical fiction recommendations?

    I totally agree with Critical regarding anything by Edwurd Rutherfurd. My personal favorite was New York, but they are all very good. Just be prepared for a long read. Most of his books range between the 900 and 1000 pages.
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    Re: Historical fiction recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by Critical View Post
    If he's at all interested in British history, Sharon K. Penman writes some of the best historical fiction I've ever read. One of her series is about the Plantagenets and starts with Here Be Dragons. Very readable and historically accurate. I haven't read anything from her mystery series, but have read almost all of her straight historical fiction. She's probably my favorite writer in the genre.

    I'd also recommend Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth for British history and anything by Edward Rutherfurd - Sarum was my favorite, but I've read and loved all of his books.

    Even though it won the Man Booker Prize, I'd stay FAR away from Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. It was horrid. I got about 4 chapters in and couldn't do it. She refers to multiple characters as "he" without specifying which HE it is. Totally confusing. I remember reading a review that started with "He, he, he. Who the heck is HE?"
    I'm a fan of Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, much of which takes place in NYC. I don't know if it would be considered pure historical fiction, but I loved it. WWII, the birth of the comic book, wonderfully written. One of the favorite selections in 5+ years of my book club.

    I like the idea of going to an indie bookstore and asking for recommendations. I do that, but I also ask the employee for a list of their favorite books so I can get a "baseline" read. I mean, recommendations are all well and good, but how do I know that person doesn't have terrible taste?
    ... I got this as a present with my original Kindle and it's STILL on my Kindle. I never don't finish books, but it is something I go to only when I'm completely out of reading and not in a place where I can order new books!

    Thanks for the Oregon logging book suggestion, Cootie--I'm looking for stuff for my Oregon brother...and I love the idea of patronizing Powell's.

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