Holiday Gift Ideas for History/Historical Fiction Fans, 2021

With the holidays fast approaching, and the global supply chain crisis causing retail panic, it is time to get working on purchasing your gifts for family and friends. If they enjoy historical fiction, or reading about history, the list below should help you get started. Choices range from a biography of the Vanderbilt family to a novel set in a 12th-century English abbey. Click on the titles to access additional information and reviews in our catalog.
Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty by Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe

CNN anchor and author Anderson Cooper, the great-great-great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, joins with historian Katherine Howe to explore the history of his family. He chronicles the rise and fall of this legendary dynasty from the early 19th century, when Cornelius Vanderbilt built his shipping and railroad empire, to contemporary times.

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

In this latest novel by the bestselling author of a A Gentleman in Moscow and Rules of Civility, it is 1954, and two young brothers embark on a fateful ten-day road trip from their home in Nebraska to the city of New York.

The Transcendentalists and Their World by Robert A. Gross

Award-winning historian Gross offers an immersive portrait of 19th-century Concord, Massachusetts, and its community of intellectuals. This is a must-read for anyone interested in Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and the history of Transcendentalism.

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

In this entertaining new novel from a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author, a furniture salesman in 1960s Harlem hits hard times and becomes a fence for local gangsters much against his better judgement.

Boston's Oldest Buildings and Where to Find Them by Joseph M. Bagley

Bagley, Boston's city archaeologist, illuminates the city's history as he takes readers through Boston's fifty oldest buildings, all of which pre-date 1800.

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

A fictionalized account of the life of Belle da Costa Greene a Black American woman who became J. P. Morgan's personal librarian. She was a person of considerable influence in New York's art world in the early 20th century. Greene hid her true identity and passed as white to achieve her success.

WBCN and the American Revolution by Bill Lichtenstein

Peabody Award-winning journalist and one-time WBCN announcer Lichtenstein, tells the story of how an underground radio station revolutionized rock radio in the 1960s and 1970s and became a major player in the social and political movements of the period. The companion volume to the feature-length documentary of the same name about Boston's legendary radio station, WBCN.

Matrix by Lauren Groff

Groff, author of the bestselling Fates and Furies, was inspired by a fellowship talk she attended about medieval liturgy, as well as her own knowledge of medieval French literature, to write this feminist take on life in a 12th-century English abbey. It is loosely based on the life story of the real poet Marie de France who is principally know for her authorship of The Lais of Marie de France.

The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times Magazine

This book is a substantial expansion of The New York Times Magazine award-winning "1619 Project" issue which placed slavery and its legacy at the center of America's national narrative. The authors believe that it would be more accurate to start this narrative in late August, 1619, when the first slave ship arrived in Jamestown, rather than on July 4, 1776.

The Women of Troy by Pat Barker

In this follow-up to The Silence of the Girls, Barker, the Booker Prize-winning author of the Regeneration Trilogy, continues her retelling of Homer's Iliad, from the perspective of the captured Trojan women.