I recently received an email from a young, smart history bugg and aspiring writer of my acquaintance asking me if I could recommend a history book or two that had impressed me or influenced my writing.* I quickly put together a short list of books, focusing for the most part on books I had read with the same fascination as a novel–what we call Flashlight Reads over on the Non-Fiction Fans Facebook group. I kept going back to pull “just one more” off the shelf.
Here’s the list I came up with, in alphabetical order by last name:
Tanim Ansary. Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes
Sarah Gristwood. Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the War of the Roses
Sarah Gristwood. Game of Queens: The Women Who Made Sixteenth Century Europe
David Howarth. 1066: The Year of the Conquest.
Steve Kemper. A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles through Islamic Africa.
Lynne Olson. Last Hope Island: Britain, Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood that Helped Turn the Tide of War.
E. P. Thompson. The Making of the English Working Class.
Pretty much anything by Barbara Tuchman
Holly Tucker. City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic and the First Police Chief of Paris
It’s a random list. Chosen quickly, and heavily weighted toward books I’ve read recently because those are the ones at the front of my brain. Even as I type, I’m tempted to cheat and add one or ten more.
I’m curious. What would your list look like?
* I didn’t even try to limit myself to one or two. To do that in any meaningful way you have to define your terms.