Traveling Through a Book in COVID

I believe that all of us are readers deep down. If you are one to say ‘reading is boring’, I think that you just haven’t found the right book yet. For several years now I have enjoyed learning more about global history; however, reading historical textbooks and watching documentaries wasn’t going to stick with a 37-credit-year of university. I wasn’t going to quit though. 

Since I started reading historical fiction books, I have grown in so many ways. It enriches your mind, you feel creative yet knowledgeable, and sometimes it finds its way into your dreams. 

Here are my top historical fiction book recommendations: 

  1. The Huntress 
    • Written by Kate Quinn 
    • The first book that pulled me into the world of historical fiction 
    • Quinn sets the scene of the 1940s-1950s across the continents. In one corner of her story, a teenage girl (Jordan) with a widowed father have just welcomed a mysterious fair- skinned-bright blue-eyed woman into their home and life. In another corner, a war correspondent and his sidekick are Nazi hunters and devote tiresome hours to getting escaped criminals what they deserve. The 2 corners collide based on a single photograph Jordan took of this mysterious woman (Anna), as the story unfolds, Jordan’s initial suspicion of Anna is confirmed with a surprising end. 
  1. The Tattooist of Auschwitz 
    • Written by Heather Morris 
    • A classic short novel narrating the true story of Lale Sokolov’s experiences at Auschwitz; a concentration camp in Germany during the Holocaust. He volunteers to take his older brother’s place and from the beginning, his generous and charming nature is evident in his dialogue with others but also in his actions. He is recruited as the camp’s Tätowierer (german word for Tattooist) and as with most emotional true stories, he falls in love with Gita (a woman at his same camp). As the Tätowierer, he gets the privilege of moving around the camp freely, an extra bread ration, and straw to sleep on; but he uses these advantages to help the individuals in the camp that sacrificed something for Lale. The story continues to take us through an emotional rollercoaster through Lale’s eyes. 
  1. Water for Elephants
    • Written by Sara Gruen 
    • First, the biggest thank-you to Sarah Shepherd for introducing me to this book 
    • A book so breathtakingly written and thought of, you feel as if you are jumping off the train with Jacob Jankowski; a 23-year-old Polish-American who left vet school to end up in the circus. Gruen switches between the past (the perspective of 23-year-old Jacob) and the present (93-year-old Jacob in a senior-living home) to add some depth to the power of memories. Jacob’s parents died in an accident when he was finishing up his final exams at Cornell Vet School in the US, and so he technically was not a vet yet when he lost everything and chose to run away. He jumped into a box-car late at night and woke up with the news he has jumped on to the traveling circus of the Benzini Brothers. The story continues to depict his experiences with the circus, ending with present-day Jacob reminiscing on his late wife Marlena. 
  2. The Alice Network 
    • Written by Kate Quinn 
    • Quinn’s use of words will get you through all 560 pages of this novel, her descriptions of characters, setting, and even dialogue makes you feel as if you know Eve Gardiner and Charlie St.Clair. Like several other historical fiction books, there are 2 independent storylines that later intertwine. Charlie St.Clair is an American and pregnant college student that is frustrated with her parent’s attempts at covering up the whereabouts of her cousin (Rose) and thus starts her own search. Eve Gardiner is a British spy that despite her stubbornness and speech impediment, became one of the strongest members of the Alice Network. The sacrifices she made depict the heroism of women in inescapable situations. The story goes on to narrate Eve’s journey from a stuttering office assistant to a fierce French spy, while Charlie enters Eve’s life many years later with an adventurous and tough request. 
  3. The German Midwife 
    • Written by Mandy Robotham 
    • This story will open your eyes to the little-known pockets of 1939 Germany. We hear stories about minorities being imprisoned in concentration camps (such as The Tattooist of Auschwitz), but have you wondered about the babies born at the concentration camps? Anke Hoff was a midwife at a Berlin Hospital before being taken away to a luxurious destination on a mountain. This wasn’t in the best interest of Anke though, in Berlin she took care of all mothers: Jewish mothers who had to have their babies taken away the moment they were born, non-Jewish mothers who could hold their babies until the babies died of malnutrition, and mothers who had given birth to babies with a disability. Her new placement provided her one mother to take care of; Hitler’s mistress (Eva). The story takes us all through the internal battles Anke faces taking care of the one couple that has caused distress in Germany. Anke can’t forget that Eva is also just another mother bringing an innocent child into this world. 

I hope you decide to take a little vacation from your normal routine and pick up one of these books, you won’t regret it! 

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