Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Historical Fiction Novels


Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres and I’m so happy that this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) topic is past or future. I’m not a huge reader of sci-fi, so I thought I’d feature 10 of my favourite historical fiction novels this week. I haven’t included any historical fantasy novels. These are all purely historical fiction, though some do have some magical realism elements. And in case you couldn’t tell, I love WWII historical fiction!!!

1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This one is a no-brainer. It’s my favourite book of all time so it has to appear on this list. This book is set in France and Germany during WWII.

2. Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali

This book is another WWII historical fiction novel but is one that is written from a very unique perspective. This book follows Max from his time as an unborn foetus inside his pregnant mother, until the war ends when he’s 10. Max is a Hitler youth whose conception and upbringing was heavily monitored in order to produce the perfect little soldier.

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Another one of my favourite WWII historical fiction novels – I’m sure you all know what this one’s about. This was the first required reading that I actually enjoyed and it sparked my love for WWII and historical fiction. This book is set in Germany.

4. The Lake House by Kate Morton

I thought I’d give you a break from the WWII fiction… The Lake House is a mystery novel about a child who disappeared in Cornwall in the 1930s. A detective from the present day hears about this mysterious disappearance and decides to uncover what really happened.

5. Goodnight, Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian

This is a children’s book that I read when I was 12 and absolutely loved. I don’t remember too much of what happened but I was deeply affected by it and I remember begging my parents to buy me a copy of it. It still has a proud place on my shelves and I hope to reread it sometime this year. This book is set in Britain during WWII and is about a boy called Willie who is evacuated from London to the country. He is cared for by an elderly man, Mister Tom, and the bond between them grows.

6. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

This novel is set in Amsterdam in the 17th century. The descriptions in this book are so vivid and I really felt like I was there in 17th century Amsterdam. I’ve only read a handful of books set in the Netherlands and this one was truly unique.

7. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

Another WWII historical fiction novel… The Narrow Road to the Deep North is the 2014 Man Booker Prize Winner. It’s a heartwrenching story about Australian soldiers in Japanese prisoner of war camps.

8. A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman

This novel is set in Cornwall during WWI and is about a friendship between a 90 year old woman and a young soldier who floats ashore near her home. This was beautifully written and made me realise that I love WWI fiction almost as much as I love WWII.

9. Madame Tussaud’s Apprentice by Kathleen Benner Duble

As you can probably tell from the title, this book is set in France during the French Revolution. While there were some aspects of the book that kept me from giving it more than 3.5 stars, I thoroughly enjoyed the setting of the novel and it was a time period that I’ve read very little about.

10. Rurouni Kenshin by Nobuhiro Watsuki

I couldn’t talk about historical fiction without mentioning my favourite manga, Rurouni Kenshin. This one is set in the Meiji era in Japan, which is a time period and setting that I love to read about. It’s definitely my favourite period of Japanese history, with Taisho as a close second. I love all mangas, animes, novels that are set during Meiji and Taisho.

Let me know what some of your historical fiction novels are. I’m always on the look out for more WWII fiction and other historical fiction in general! And if non-fantasy historical fiction isn’t your thing, let me know what historical fantasy novels you love! My favourite is probably The Infernal Devices ❀


58 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Historical Fiction Novels

  1. ChrissiReads says:

    I keep being reminded that I need to read All The Light We Cannot See. Thanks for reminding me about it! It sounds like a book I would really enjoy. πŸ™‚ Great list!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Katy Goodwin-Bates says:

    I like lots of these, especially All the Light: the last third was so dramatic. Although I did futuristic settings for my TTT I now keep thinking of historical books Iove; have you read Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks? That’s set in WW2 as well and it’s excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. transhaan says:

    Amazing list :O That cover of The Book Thief is pretty sexyyy ! I watched the movie, but I know the book has so much more to offer. I can’t wait to get to it soon. One of my favorite historical fiction of all time is The Alienist by Caleb Carr, you should definitely check it out if it’s your sort of thing! πŸ˜‰

    – Lashaan

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence says:

    The only book I’ve read from here is The Book Thief which I loved.. Unfortunately historical fiction isn’t a genre I’ve read much from. Although I read the bronze horseman and really liked that. Ahhh I love the Kenshin anime and live action movies though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      You know what I’m going to say, Jeann. ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE. READ IT. I was actually going to buy that for you for your birthday but Kinokuniya didn’t have any copies. THE SHOCK AND HORROR I FELT. But I don’t really like the Australian/UK edition very much anyway. I much prefer the hardcover US edition. I feel like the formatting in that book is much better. And I will love Kenshin for ever and ever and ever and ever.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Katrina says:

    You should totally check out Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys – it’s set during WWII but it’s set in Russia and it’s about some of the events that occurred then πŸ™‚ and I still need to read all the light we cannot see omg

    Liked by 1 person

  6. masonlou says:

    I recommend salt in to the sea by Rita supetys, it has the same feEl as all the light we cannot see without the fantasy element. My review will be up on Thursday if you wanna check it out. Great list!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lois says:

    Goodnight, Mr Tom brings back so many childhood memories. I just love that book and the film as well. You are basically my go-to person for historical fiction now because there are so many books on this list that are now being added to my to read list. Cornwall is such a beautiful place and The Lake House sounds like my kind of book. I’d love to learn more about Japanese history so Rurouni Kenshin will definitely be checked out. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      I really want to reread and rewatch Goodnight, Mister Tom. I’m pretty sure that we got to watch the film along with reading the book (or maybe we watched the movie and I enjoyed it so much that I read the book too?). I just can’t remember much about it and I really want to give it another go because I loved it so much as a child. YES! I loved The Lake House so much and the setting was beautiful! I finished the book and wanted to reread it straight away! It has some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever read.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ksenia says:

    I don’t often venture into Historical Fiction, but I have All the Light We Cannot See The Book Thief on my tbr-list. Have you read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah? I haven’t, but many of my friends loved it and highly recommended it to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Grace Meredith says:

    You like The Infernal Devices too?! Hooray, I’ve found another fan. Are you a Wessa or a Jessa? I’m definitely a Jessa, but I liked the way things turned out in the end. Cassandra Clare played with our emotions so much, hehe. I can’t wait to read All the Light We Cannot See, I’ve heard so much about it but never actually picked it up. Have you tried Between Shades of Grey? It’s one of my favorite historical fiction novels ever; it’s very poignant and sweet. If you HAVE, let me know so we can rave about it! My TTT.

    Grace @ That Peculiar Fangirl

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    Great picks for this week!
    I don’t read a lot of historical fiction but The Book Thief is an all-time favourite of mine and I am currently reading All the Light We Cannot See. I’m only about halfway through, I still added it to my TTT for this week though, and I’m really enjoying it so far. I can see why it’s gotten so much recognition.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. theemeraldquil says:

    Absolutely YES, Rurouni Kenshin is one of my favorite mangas. I’ve been meaning to read All The Light We Cannot See forever! I’ll have to get on that.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Valerie says:

    Ahhhh I love WWII, so obviously this list gives me joy (though it should’ve, but you know what I mean). And The Book Thief is always an amazing and sad and heartbreaking read. I haven’t read Rurouni Kenshin because I’m intimidated by how long the manga is, but maybe one day I’ll give it a shot? I mostly stick to shorter series. ANYWAYS, I have a lot of WWII books on my list, like Between Shades of Gray, Code Name Verity, I really want to read The Nightingale, and I just finished reading Front Lines and that was good too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      The Rurouni Kenshin manga is definitely long but at least it won’t take as long as a novel to read, right? It’s so action-packed that it flies by pretty quickly. The last time I reread it, it took me about 4 days to read the whole manga. Otherwise, I recommend the anime too! I haven’t read any of the books you’ve listed there, but I’m super intrigued by all of Ruta Sepetys’ books! I’ve heard wonderful things about them and you can never have enough YA historical fiction, am I right? XD


  13. Summer @ Xingsings says:

    Haha, I’m not surprised to see any of these on here. Especially Max since you loved that one so much recently. XD Since you enjoy reading about WWII… do you like to read nonfiction books about that time period? I read Unbroken last year and loved it so much. I don’t talk about it enough because it’s only a book for those that are really into the time period… but it’s probably the the book that got me into blogging and reading again last year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      I love reading non-fiction historical books! I haven’t actually read a lot of WWII history books but that’s something that I’d totally want to read more of. Except, fiction is too appealing. I haven’t heard of Unbroken but will check it out when I feel like reading non-fiction.


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