The best books with engaging stories of historical adventures – fact and fiction

Who am I?

I have chosen this area of literature because I enjoy expanding my horizons. I love to find out about stories from different cultures and different times that will open my eyes to things I would never have thought about before. The depth of the writing is important to convey the emotions felt by the characters. This is what inspires me in my writing and my book that I have chosen to highlight here is also a story of historical fiction, influenced by my experience of living in Slovakia and finding out from residents about how incredibly different life had been in their country.


I wrote...

The Potter

By Elliot Lord,

Book cover of The Potter

What is my book about?

Viktor is a middle-aged man who has lived his life in an isolated house near a small village in Czechoslovakia. He has kept himself busy by creating bespoke pottery for many people in the area and his reputation spreads far and wide. One day, he is visited by a shop owner who is amazed at Viktor's talent and makes him an offer that would take him out of his comfort zone. 

Another villager, Marianna, who has very little of interest happening in her life, pays him a visit upon hearing his news, which unexpectedly leads them to have a close working relationship, that continues even when they soon become separated. This novel explores emotions related to changes in life and how relationships affect our decisions.

The books I picked & why

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Papillon

By Henri Charriere,

Book cover of Papillon

Why this book?

Papillon is the true story of a man falsely imprisoned for murder. He made several escape attempts over many years and his determination in situations that brought him a lot of punishment and emotional suffering makes for a gripping read. His interactions with other prisoners and people he met on the outside show how he needed to adapt to be safe and to have any chance of living a normal life. This is a real page-turner as it will take you out of your comfort zone and put you in a different world.

Papillon

By Henri Charriere,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Papillon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An immediate sensation upon its publication in 1969, Papillon is a vivid memoir of brutal penal colonies, daring prison breaks and heroic adventure on shark-infested seas.

Condemned for a murder he did not commit, Henri Charriere, nicknamed Papillon, was sent to the penal colony of French Guiana. Forty-two days after his arrival he made his first break for freedom, travelling a thousand gruelling miles in an open boat. He was recaptured and put into solitary confinement but his spirit remained untamed: over thirteen years he made nine incredible escapes, including from the notorious penal colony on Devil's Island.

This edition…


Kolyma Tales

By Varlam Shalamov, John Glad (translator),

Book cover of Kolyma Tales

Why this book?

Shalamov was a political prisoner in the Soviet Union and was sent to the gulags in northeastern Siberia. This book is life-changing in that he nonchalantly tells stories of extreme discomfort and how the men would kill each other without a second thought if they didn't like what the other was doing. Narrating tales over many years of desperation, Kolyma Tales puts the reader in the shoes of someone who knows they can't escape but can't lose the survival instinct, either. This is easily one of the best books I've ever read.

Kolyma Tales

By Varlam Shalamov, John Glad (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kolyma Tales as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is estimated that some three million people died in the Soviet forced-labour camps of Kolyma, in the northeastern area of Siberia. Shalamov himself spent seventeen years there, and in these stories he vividly captures the lives of ordinary people caught up in terrible circumstances, whose hopes and plans extended to further than a few hours This new enlarged edition combines two collections previously published in the United States as Kolyma Tales and Graphite.


Forty Autumns: A Family's Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall

By Nina Willner,

Book cover of Forty Autumns: A Family's Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall

Why this book?

Forty Autumns is the story of a family divided by the Berlin wall. One half is stuck behind it living a severely limited life,while the other is able to travel around West Germany and eventually to the USA. Willner put a huge amount of research into this story of her family and the depth of it connects to your emotions. Knowing that your side of the family has freedom, not just to travel but to live, while it is so difficult just to contact the rest of your family, will pull on your heartstrings, hoping that one day, they will be able to reunite.

Forty Autumns: A Family's Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall

By Nina Willner,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Forty Autumns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Forty Autumns, Nina Willner recounts the history of three generations of her family - mothers, sisters, daughters and cousins - separated by forty years of Soviet rule, and reunited after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Shortly after the end of the Second World War, as the Soviets took control of the eastern part of Germany, Hanna, a schoolteacher's daughter, escaped with nothing more than a small suitcase and the clothes on her back. As Hanna built a new life in the West, her relatives (her mother, father and eight siblings) remained in the East. The construction of the…


The Count of Monte Cristo

By Alexandre Dumas, Robin Buss (translator),

Book cover of The Count of Monte Cristo

Why this book?

Said to be one of the best books ever written, this huge novel is very hard to put down. Dumas had an incredible knack for telling complex tales that are still easy to read. This is a tale of adventure with the main character being imprisoned for many years and his cunning escape and plans for his future go on a journey of many paths. I read this during lockdown and it was a pleasure to do so as there were so many cliffhangers that were believable. An astonishing author and well worth devoting a couple of months to.

The Count of Monte Cristo

By Alexandre Dumas, Robin Buss (translator),

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Count of Monte Cristo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The epic tale of wrongful imprisonment, adventure and revenge, in its definitive translation

Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to use the treasure to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. Dumas' epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular success when it was first serialized…


Moonfleet

By John Meade Falkner,

Book cover of Moonfleet

Why this book?

Moonfleet is a fictional tale of life on the high seas. Starting out as a boy, the main character takes on a life where he constantly grows and learns through his dangerous interactions with smugglers. The book is filled with stories of different adventures and challenges and it will keep you engrossed all the way through. This is one of the best books of its kind that I have read.

Moonfleet

By John Meade Falkner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moonfleet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Soviet Union, revenge, and smuggling?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Soviet Union, revenge, and smuggling.

The Soviet Union Explore 253 books about the Soviet Union
Revenge Explore 72 books about revenge
Smuggling Explore 11 books about smuggling

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Pachinko, A Gentleman in Moscow, and The Lord of the Rings if you like this list.