Day: May 27, 2017

Top Reads – Age 18 to 29 – Historical Fiction

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As part of our series with curiosity brewing over how people choose to read what book at which age, it’s time to put forth some recommendations for the second week… and our focus will be ages 18 to 29 for Historical Fiction:

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Of course, everyone has a different maturity level and might be ready to read certain books sooner than others, as well as vice versa. It’s only meant as general guidelines with a fun spirit — and not any sense of indicating someone isn’t capable of reading something sooner. I’ve linked to my review of the book for any that I’ve read. There are a few I haven’t yet read, and so I’ve linked to its Goodreads book page.

I am also using a more strict interpretation of the the historical fiction genre than commonly understood. For my selections, a few rules:

(1) Book must have been written and/or published at least 25 years after the events in the book actually take place, e.g. written in 1990, the events had to occur before 1965 (basically 1 previous generation).

(2) Its genre needs to be primarily known as historical fiction. A few selections below contain some fantasy or mystery, but that’s a minor component. Just because a book takes place long ago in the past, doesn’t make it historical fiction. I toyed with including Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities,” but decided that belongs in another Top Reads list, e.g. Classics (Pre-20th Century).

(3) The primary characters need to be fictional or, if they are based on real people, they have to be used only as a foundation from which the author jumps off. For this reason, I didn’t include the book “Victoria” by Daisy Goodwin, although I love it. “Victoria” is based on reality, using verified letters the Queen wrote to family and friends — very little of the book is completely fictional.

Many of these books could be read at any age. I tried to ignore ones that are taught in high school, thus why I started at the age of 18. I wanted to include “The Color Purple,” but I think that’s better when read in your 30s, so it will be on a future list. But maybe you think it should be in one’s 20s. Convince me!

My suggestions are based on some of the content in the books, the written words / level of the language, and/or readers having enough life experience to truly understand what messages are being conveyed. That said, it’s only my best guess and I am very open to hearing different opinions… possibly persuaded to make a change. I also know I missed a few good ones, but I can include them for future years. Let’s have a really great discussion over all these items!

 

Age / Book / Author

  • Age 18: The Crucible by Arthur Miller
    • Throughout high school, you’re often forced to read certain classic literary novels and plays. This play is right on the border of classic vs. historical fiction, high school vs. college read, and forced vs. exploratory/enjoyable about a dark American period. I’ve decided this is a good transition piece to move readers into the genre, showing true history of what’s happened in America, as well as fictional characters who are over-the-top and on a crusader-type mission. Though some may find it a tad boring, I think it’s got elements of everything that represent historical fiction with a great respect. It would be a great one to read, watch a television version and then even see a play in a local theatre.

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  • Age 19: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
    • Arguably part of the Young Adult (YA) section, and perhaps even something to read at a younger age, I would tell readers to hold off until you’re out of high school. Get away from the clique and group sociology. Make your decisions on if you’re going to college, trade school or starting a job. Then settle in one weekend with this book to see how hard life was for other people, as a youngster in the face of a horrific period in history. You’ve learned enough about the Holocaust in school, and sometimes it’s more than any single person can handle hearing. But this book transformed me and moved me to tears. And it’s great for those who love books about books. It’s a “let’s change our life” book, perfect for when you begin your foray post school into whatever path you choose for life.

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  • Age 20: Moloka’i by Alan Brennert
    • Not as well known as The Book Thief, but just as powerful. Few know about this tragedy faced in Hawaii, as an example (since it happened elsewhere too), over a century ago. People are afraid of disease and things that look different than they do. Learning how life changes for these characters over a 30 to 40 year period, understanding the lessons we experience when we’re older versus what we should have known in the beginning can be a game-changer. This tale has a beautiful connection with the characters, where you will love them and be annoyed with a few of them, all at the same time. Few stories take you to a time and place like this one, where things are different yet still so very much the same. Perfect for strting a new decade of your life.

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  • Age 21: Orphan Train by Christine Baker Kline
    • There’s a balance in this book that I’ve not yet found in another. Told both in the current time period and in the past, it’s not only a coming-of-age story for someone who needs to learn how to grow up, it’s also a reflection on a life left behind for a woman near the end of her days. But when they bond, you see something special. Though one of the characters is in her teens, I would suggest holding off until you are embracing life in your 20s… when seeing your grandparents facing issues, looking to connect with their grandchildren, and feeling a sense of story-telling time. And when your mind will be open to accept that the things in this book actually did happen many years ago.

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  • Age 22: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
    • A tough add for me. I considered “Peony in Love” by Lisa See, or one of her other books; but I stuck with this one. Hearing about a heritage other than American, or Anglo, is important. Knowing what women went thru to be able to survive. It’s something you can take a lesson from at any age, but I think one’s mind is open after finishing college (or a few years of work) — having a few years of reading on your own, having chosen fiction that you can connect with each day. Now you have an opportunity to travel to a land on the other side of the world — or maybe close by, if you live in Asia — where feminism and the female voice are treated so very differently.

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  • Age 23: Girl with Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
    • I’ve never read this one, but I know it’s powerful. And important. I’ve read excerpts. I’ve seen some adaptions. The narrator is 16. But 16 in the 1600s is more like a girl in her 20s now-a-days, I believe. Reading it when you’re either settling down into “married life” or your own career, seeing the differences from so many centuries ago… might help give some perspective to where you are in your own life — and what you want to accomplish. And you’ll know more about this genre, including what historical periods and countries you like and don’t like.

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  • Age 24: The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory
    • I adore Philippa Gregory’s books and the details on all the English Kings and Queens. I picked this one, though it’s not my favorite, because it’s the debut for the book series about the Plantagenet and Tudor royal families. For most people, it was torture hearing about the royal families… who killed who and who fathered who. People failed quizzes and got their Henrys, Richards and Georges confused all the time. {Maybe not us book nerds… I never did, I loved them}. But it feels like in your mid-20s, you’re starting to want to hear the other side of the facts. What happened behind the scenes? And now with so many TV adaptions of these periods, it’s important to understand how it all began.

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  • Age 25: The Help by Kathryn Stockett
    • Historical fiction wouldn’t be a genre if it didn’t include a story about civil rights and the struggle for equality. It is such an important part of American culture, and we’ve studied so much of it in school. But what about the real people who went through it. The men and women who dealt with the violence and mistreatment on a daily basis. And if you add some humor, passion and familiar connection, in a setting more beautiful than you hear about in school, you’ve got a winner. Another book worth waiting until you’ve finished school and had a few years away from the required reads, studying and quizzes. Some may argue this could be used during school as a way to teach, but it has so many wonderful elements, I’d rather wait until it feels like a natural go-to read to learn about the things we all know happened but have limited experience with. {Plus, if you read it too young, I could see some unruly youngster baking their own chocolate pies for people they dislike! And no, I wouldn’t have been one of them! How dare you… LOL}

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  • Age 26: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
    • This is one of my top five favorite books and Morton is one of my top four favorite authors. Her language is ethereal. Her scenes are breathtaking. Her characters remind us of people we know. You need some life experience before taking on her books. If you’ve had these types of life experiences before 25, good for you. But there’s heartbreak. And pain. And torture. And longing. And it takes years to build that up. I probably should push this until later 20s or early 30s, but I want everyone to be exposed to this author as early as possible without causing any sort of concerns at too early of an age that you are bored by lengthy descriptions. And the lessons I learned about life and people… absolutely phenomenal.

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  • Age 27: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
    • Another one where I picked the first in series. And I pushed this towards the end of the 20s purely due to some of the violent content surrounding war, sex and pain. I am ignoring the small component of time travel and fantasy as that’s not the point of the story. The point is being torn between two places, two time periods, and the love you feel for a man who is your destiny but also your potential downfall. I want to read this over and over again, but there are so many in the series, you have to start relatively young to get to them all!

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  • Age 28: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
    • It’s a toss-up for me whether Follett or Morton are the best historical fiction writers in the entire universe. It was also very difficult to just pick one of his books. “World Without End” is my favorite in this series. “Night Over Water” is my ultimate favorite of all his works. Both are also historical fiction. And while I like the setting of Night over Water, it could have taken place in any time period… so I opted for Pillars. The imagination here is intense. The ability to draw so many facets of personalities, as well as the complexities among the different generations over the years is immense. The man’s a genius and his literature is so impacting, I truly set aside uninterrupted time when it’s a Follett novel. Given the vast diversity of the historical periods being covered, it’s meant for a mature reader. Some are ready to tackle this in their late teens or early twenties. And I mean no offense, but I think it’s a better read when you’re older, and you’ve read enough in this particular genre and by this author… so when you pick up this series of books, your amazement will be profound. {Tell me why I’m wrong — totally up for it}

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  • Age 29: Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
    • Similar to last week’s mystery choice with Dan Brown, I’m gonna get a little flack for throwing this one in here. But I adore it. The messages in this story. The characters. The loss. The pain. The love. The images. It is so beautiful and it could only take place in the past in another country (other than my own) where life seems so much more cultural and rich. Another book that requires having had a great loss, I’d save this one for later in the 20s. Actually, I’d read it twice. Once in your 20s and again in your mid to late 40s… there’s a different mindset, and you’ll have a different perspective. I can say that from talking to other people about it, as I haven’t quite reached the second age yet, so… that’s where you can slap me around a bit, telling me I should have included “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker. I can take it. Hit me.

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Summary

I know I’ve got 1 or 2 wrong… still debating… but if you know anything about me in my 365 Daily Posts — I aim for perfection, don’t get caught up in the vicious circle of analysis paralysis, and I’m constantly in my head thinking too much. So this represents a two-hour research and release process about recommendations for historical fiction in your 20s. OK! Let’s rumble… who agrees? Who disagrees?  Where did I forget something? Keep me focused, friends!

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 Rules If You Want to Do One Too

  1. Pick a genre. You can get very detailed and go into sub-genres, e.g. cozy, classic, etc. I’m starting general and may work my way down into the details.
  2. Pick an age range, roughly covering 12 years. You can add more or start with less, but I figured twelve ages seemed like a good one to start with.
  3. Pick a book for each age that you’d recommend to get someone situated with the genre.
  4. You can’t repeat an author within that age range.
  5. Explain why that author, book and age.
  6. Either show a book cover or provide a link to the book on Goodreads, or if you’ve read it and have a review, link your review.
  7. Start a discussion with everyone, e.g. is it the right age, is something missing…
  8. Tag others if you’d like, but I open it to everyone.
  9. Last week was mystery fiction for ages 13 to 24. See the post here.
  10. I don’t read in all genres. I don’t know every age. I’d love some help. Anyone want to partner with me on this for a different age range and genre? Please!

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About Me

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. Once you hit my site “ThisIsMyTruthNow” at https://thisismytruthnow.com, you can join the fun and see my blog and various site content. You’ll find book reviews, published and in-progress fiction, TV/Film reviews, favorite vacation spots and my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge.” Since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life… see how you compare! Feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Tell me what you think. Note: All content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: The Return of the King

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The Return of the King Book Review
4 of 5 stars to The Return of the King, the third book in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, written in 1955, by J.R.R. Tolkien. After reading the first two books in this series, how can you not finish it with this one? I knocked them back between 9th and 10th grades, loving every minute of the imagination and struggle between good and evil. When I got this this final one, I already knew I’d be sad to say goodbye to all the characters I’d fallen hardcore for over the 1500 pages between the volumes. But when the movies came out, I had a chance to re-live the intensity of this drama… as taking on such large books with everything else I had on my reading plate, did not make sense. Watching them in film form tho lived up to many expectations. Of course, I loved the books more, but I still enjoyed the films and will watch them if I am skimming the channels and find one in play.

The flaws in each of the characters, as well as their journey, are immense but real. When you find out some of the changes in this book (no spoilers!) and people you thought were long-forgotten, it is brilliant. And seeing the evil forces fight the good forces… it’s just a version of the reality we face every day. All over a ring that provides power. But power is at the center of it all. And it’s one of the few books where I found myself happy with the ending.

I could talk about these forever, but I won’t bore you. I am not a big fan of fantasy, and have only read a handful of books and authors in this genre. These are a favorite across all genres for me, and it’s because of the creativity in Tolkien’s mind that I consider reading more in this genre. Before Harry Potter, we had a family of hobbits… who stole our hearts and taught us many lessons. Ones I still think of today whenever I need to weight the options before me. Please give them a chance! But start with #1…. you have to read them in order!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Review: The Pit and the Pendulum

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The Pit and the Pendulum Book Review
3+ of 5 stars to The Pit and the Pendulum, a short story written in 1842, by Edgar Allan Poe. As in the tradition of Poe’s other Gothic and gory tales, this one takes the fear of death to new heights. Poe tells the story of a man facing punishment during the Spanish Inquisition, a death like no other. At first, he’s strapped to a wooden table while a pendulum swings from above with a saw, getting lower and lower until it’s nearly about to start ripping into his flesh. But the victim finds a way out… in a somewhat ingenious manner. But when he’s saved, he falls into the pit as the walls begin to close in on him. Once again, before he perishes, he is saved when the Inquisition is over.

On the outskirts, it’s just a Gothic tale of a man afraid to die. Two horrific options nearly take his life, all the way messing with this mental state. Neither are a quick and painless death. Both will shock his body and render his mind afraid of life… in a permanent state… just as he enters the after-life. Poe’s saying a lot more here than what you read upon an initial viewing of this story. As expected, the story takes you on the ride of your life. It’s a careful executed imagination that can find the right words and the perfect background to constantly jiggle the paranoia we all feel at some point in our lives.

Certainly not the best of his short stories, it is a good one… something all beginning thriller fans should read.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Review: G is for Gumshoe

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G is for GumshoeBook Review
3.5 of 5 stars for G is for Gumshoe, the 7th installment in the “Kinsey Millhone” mystery series, written in 1990 by Sue Grafton. Another good book in the series, this one offers an opportunity for Kinsey to partner with someone else — this time to save her own life. Kinsey’s just turned 33 and has a few big things going on in her life, one of which is a criminal king pin after her for some recent actions. When Kinsey realizes her life is in danger, she hires a bodyguard, but he is way more intense than she’d hoped for; however, it’s a good thing he’s there, as Kinsey finds herself coming close to death a few times more than usual in this book. At the core, a long-buried, and thought to be dead, secret pops back up… and several people seem willing to kill to keep it from truly coming out again. Kinsey has no clue what’s going on, but is as determined as ever. Good writing. Great characters. A little formulaic at times, but I tend to like that side of it, too. The voice changes a bit in this book, but not enough to warrant any concern. I still love the supporting characters, and this one introduces a few good personalities that I hope come around every so often. For fans of the series, it’s a good one — somewhere in the middle of the range for highs and lows. Best part is how strong Kinsey is, but at the same time, shows humanity and emotion. She’s the kind of detective I’d want working on my case, if I ever needed to prove my innocence. Trusts but verifies. Knows when to back off, but still finds a way to push her agenda in the background, which always ends up being a good thing — except when she gets caught in the crossfire.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Review: The Purloined Letter

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The Purloined LetterBook Review
3+ of 5 stars to The Purloined Letter, a short story written in 1844, by Edgar Allan Poe. One of the most interesting facts about this story is that it involves Poe’s detective Dupin, who also appear in The Murders in the Rue Morgue. Unlike the Rue Morgue, this mystery contains not gore or horror; it’s pure mystery without the overall Gothic depths Poe usually goes to in his literary works. At its core, the story is about a letter that’s gone missing, possibly stolen, having changed hands a number of times. Poe’s narrator discussed with Dupin all the potential suspects, ruling out everyone but the obvious one. And so, Dupin sets up a test to prove it. As you delve deeper into the story, you begin to question your own view of thievery and the moral codes of “teaching someone a lesson.” Many believe the mystery remains unsolved at the end of this one… and while I would tend to agree, it’s still a very artful approach to telling the story. It also helped push the mystery genre into more analytical thinking as opposed to true action-based, cut-and-dry physical tracking down of clues. Definite short read for any fans of this genre. And good to compare to other of Poe’s works to see the real meaning of the Gothic style of writing.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Review: The Cat Who Went into the Closet

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The Cat Who Went into the Closet Book Review
4 of 5 stars to the 15th book in the “Cat Who” cozy mystery series, The Cat Who Went into the Closet, written in 1993 by Lilian Jackson Braun. I found this to be one of the stronger books in this series, combining genealogy and great family dynamics within Pickax. When Qwill and the cats take a mini-trip to the Goodwinter and Gage mansion, they find themselves stirring up a little trouble in the Pickax. Uncovering information about the great fire from nearly 150 year before, the town has some secrets people wanted to keep hidden. It also shows the good and the bad about the two leading families who built Pickax over the years. If Qwill isn’t careful, he’ll find himself burning to the ground in another fire. What I love about this book is the true strength of the mystery the author built into the cozy story. There is a lot going on and it involves many great town members and historical settings. If you’ve never read the series, and only want 1 or 2, give this one a chance. If you enjoy the series but stopped because there were too many (~30), give this one a try — it’s a good mystery this time.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Review: The Cask of Amontillado

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The Cask of Amontillado Book Review
4+ of 5 stars to The Cask of Amontillado, a Gothic short story written in 1846, by Edgar Allan Poe. Perhaps one of my favorite of all Poe’s works, this literary genius stimulates one of everyone’s deepest and scariest fears: to be buried alive. Though there are several macabre options to consider, in this fantastic tale set in Italy, a man is buried alive behind a brick wall. Poe goes to great lengths to describe the process, the emotions and the setting. As a reader, you are entranced in the action, caring little about the characters or the reasons why it’s happening. You read each line in fear, wondering how it will all end.

What I love about Poe’s work is his ability to draw readers into a darkness that permeates all our senses. As you read the story, all five of your physical senses react to the vengeance plot he’s fabricated… from the damp and dank smell of the dirt to the scraping of the mortar against the bricks, your body will twist and turn at the thought of what lengths mankind will when they are angry and hurt.

Take a chance on this one… it’ll give you a great sense of who Poe was both as a writer and as a villain.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews