13 Must-Read Historical Fiction Novels

One genre I love is historical fiction. It allows you to explore another time as well as another place. You can gain an understanding of a moment in history while reading a beautiful story. The best pieces of historical fiction give you a chance to learn a little something all while being moved by a story.

Each year, I make sure to read at least a couple historical fiction books that range in time periods and subjects covered. While I’ll be honest, I’ve read countless World War II novels, and there are a few of them on this list,  I try and read across the centuries and around the world.

If you’re looking for a little historical fiction inspiration, to read a beautiful story of a time and place, or to learn a little something new about a place and area you haven’t heard much about, consider picking up one, or a few, of these.

And don’t skip the bottom section of the new historical fiction novels coming out this winter and spring I’m looking forward to getting my hands on.

American Love Stories Across the Eras

Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

Have you jumped on the Hamilton bandwagon? I sure have. While you’ll also want to pick up the biography that inspired the story to learn the facts behind the man. Sometimes what you want is an inspiring love story.

Book cover of Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

While little is actually known about the courting of Eliza Schyler by Alexander Hamilton, de la Cruz takes what we do know and turns it into a beautiful love story. A good light read!

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Book cover of Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

This is one of the few novels I read in school that I actually loved. And it’s continued to be one of my favorites. The main character is an inspiring woman who strives through a challenging life. It’s a great book to go back to, even if you didn’t love it when you first read it in school.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Book cover of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

This was one of my favorite novels from last year. It’s a beautiful love story that takes historical Hollywood and takes what you think you know and turns it on its side. The characters and their struggles to find love and peace while dealing with the struggles of fame is a historical fiction piece you won’t want to miss.

Better Than The Movie

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

You, that Chocolat. The movie with Johnny Depp. But as soon as you pick up the novel you’ll realize that the movie barely even scratches the surface of the story. This was one of those movies that I didn’t even stop to think about if it was a book, but once I started it I couldn’t put it down.

A book cover of Chocolat by Joanne Harris.

The story is still of a mother and a daughter who move to a small French town, but from then on it takes its own twists and turns. You’ll want to find out as this story is filled with so many beautiful layers.

Since Everyone Loves Paris

Except me that is, but it is a beautiful setting for many books.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Book cover of The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.

I will be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of Hemingway, not as an author at least. But he is a fascinating person in history and this story tells about him meeting, courting, and living with his first wife. Much of the story takes place in a beautiful time in Parisian history.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Book cover of The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George.

A beautiful story about a man who gave up living after he lost his love and the moment he decided to start living it again. He takes a friend along on a journey to discover what he lost and finds so much more. It all takes place on a floating bookstore too! What’s more fun than that? It came well recommended by my family members and made my list of top books from last year.

Authors I Can’t Get Enough Of

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Book cover of Half of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

One of the best books I read, when I did my reading challenge a few years back, was Americanah by Adichie. I loved the story she panted and knew I had to read more. Half the Yellow Sun tells the story of the Nigerian civil war in the 1960s through what a variety of characters faced while attempting to survive the war.

All the Lights We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Now, this was a huge hit a few years back, so there is a chance you’ve already read it. But if you haven’t it’s one of the best books around. I know, before I thought there are so many WWII novels there don’t need to be anymore. I was wrong, we needed this one in the world.

Book cover of All the Lights We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Doerr tells the story of the war through the lens of two children, a girl in Paris and a boy in Germany. Their journeys through the war are the most beautiful telling of it I’ve read yet.

A Litte Bit of Russia

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Book cover of A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.

One last stop around the world I recently enjoyed was going back in time in Russia. The story begins in a luxury hotel in Moscow in 1922. It then spans the next thirty years. Touching on the major political and social changes the country goes through as it shows how much individuals can change over time as well. This also made one of my favorite reads from last year.

And A Few Historical Fiction Novels I’m Excited For

White Houses by Amy Bloom

Book cover of White Houses by Amy Bloom.

There is no question that Lorena Hickok was a close friend of the Roosevelts, but the question by historians has often been how close she was with Eleanor. In this novel, Bloom tells takes the angle that they were not just friends but lovers in this romantic story out on February 13, 2018. 

All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth Church

Book cover of All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth Church.

Sometimes in our history have been idealized and one of those is 1960s Las Vegas. This story surrounds the showgirls and goes beyond all their glamour in this book releasing on March 6, 2018. 

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

Book cover of My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Gray and Laura Kamore.

As mentioned above, I’m loving anything Hamilton at the moment. And one of the fascinating pieces of the story is not Alexander Hamilton but instead his wife and the role she played in history. This novel, out on April 3, 2018,  will tell a part of her story. 

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Book cover of Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton.

Last year I went to Cuba. And while I loved it, I know part of me loves our ideas of in the 1950s Cuba even more. This novel out February 6, 2018, sounds like it will bring both today’s Cuba and Cuba of yesterday together into one place.

About Megan

Megan MacNee is the founder of Traveling Nine to Fiver. From nine to five she works in the non-profit world in California. She focuses on exploring the world from her own backyard to across the globe. You'll find her sharing about explorations through food, books, travel, and more.