Books like The Nightingale, All the Light We Cannot See, and Lilac Girls have taken the literary world by storm. If you’ve already made your way through these instant classics and are looking for similar heartfelt, character-driven books that take place during World War II, look no further. We’ve created this list of read-alikes just for you.
What makes a good rainy day read? For some, it’s the sort of beautiful, introspective novel that reflects the feeling of finding a comfy place to read and enjoying some alone time. For others, it’s a book that grabs your attention from the first line and refuses to let go until the very last page, engrossing you in its world and letting you forget the dreary weather.
With plenty of rain in the forecast, here are some great rainy day books to for all manner of readers.
William Shakespeare. The man, the bard. How has a man who died over 400 years ago remained relevant? Though not everyone’s cup of tea, Shakespeare has demonstrated an impressive staying power in both his persona and his works. Films like West Side Story, The Lion King, and My Own Private Idaho keep the basic plots of Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Henry V, but update the stories so they make sense to modern audiences. Other films like Shakespeare in Love feature Shakespeare as a character, imagining what life was like for the Queen’s favorite playwright.
This trend also extends to modern fiction, where books often feature Shakespeare in a variety of ways. Sometimes his plays are reimagined in a new, innovative story; sometimes Shakespeare’s personal adventures are explored, and other times Shakespeare exists in fiction as he exists today: an incredibly important and resilient linchpin in English literature. With his birthday less than a month away, read more to find some Shakespearean books that you can check out in his honor.
If you enjoy history, but like a good story to go along with it, you may have already discovered the genre of historical fiction. If not, consider this your introduction.
Your librarian can help you to find a great historical novel set in any era using tools such as NoveList. Or follow the link to our library database page and under the heading for literature, click on ‘NoveList’ (or ‘Remote Access’ from home) to access this useful resource for readers.
Take a look at these works of historical fiction, recently added to the shelves at Sewickley Public Library. You can follow the linked titles to find them in the library catalog, where you may request a copy for pickup.
The seventh and latest in the ‘Saxon Tales Saga,’ also referred to as ‘The Warrior Chronicles’ and ‘Saxon Stories,’ this book is by “the move prolific and successful historical novelist in the world today,” according to a Wall Street Journal review. The Pagan Lord continues Cornwell’s epic telling of the making of England in the middle ages and the struggle to unite Britain, centering on the stories of Alfred the Great and his descendents. If you are an Anglophile or love Viking stories (or both!), this book and series will have appeal.
The full list of books in the ‘Saxon Stories’ can be found on Bernard Cornwell’s website. If this series and setting sounds intriguing and you’d like to begin at the beginning, the first in this series is The Last Kingdom: A Novel.
Valerie Martin’s latest work of historical fiction explores the unanswered questions surrounding the Mary Celeste, an American merchant vessel found adrift off the Spanish coast in 1872, cargo intact but the entire crew vanished with no signs of foul play.
Martin has written other acclaimed works of historical fiction. Mary Reilly, a retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from the point of view of a young female servant, won both the Nebula Award and the World Fantasy Award. And Property, which tells the story of a plantation master’s wife and her slave on a sugar plantation near New Orleans in 1828, won the Orange Prize (now called the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction) and was named one of the 10 best historical novels by The Observer in 2012.
Ariel Lawhon’s debut novel, set in Jazz Age New York, The Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress is an fictionalized account of the real disappearance in 1930 of Justice Joseph Crater. The investigation is undertaken by newly promoted police officer Jude Simon, who proceeds by questioning three women in Crater’s life: his wife, his mistress, and his maid (who also happens to be Simon’s wife). The mystery winds its way through speakeasies and involves the most notorious gangsters of the day.
Of course, these are only three recently written historical fiction novels, set in three eras, and in three different geographic settings. There is sure to be a great work of historical fiction set in whatever time period or in whatever place interests you.