The best books to prove that history is the furthest thing from boring

Who am I?

I have a passion for telling the stories of women who've been sidelined by history, fascinating and significant leading ladies who made a meaningful mark, even though their names are now less well-known than many of the men of their time. The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post is my ninth book. I’ve written two children’s books, one nonfiction memoir, and six historical fiction novels, but this one feels particularly exciting and personal to me because I fell in love with the historical material, the time periods covered, and the subject herself, while researching and writing this novel. Post’s life is not taught in history classes, but should be, because she certainly makes history fun.


I wrote...

Book cover of The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post

What is my book about?

Growing up in the modest farmlands of Battle Creek, Michigan, Marjorie Merriweather Post was inspired by a few simple rules: always think for yourself, never take success for granted, and work hard—even when deemed American royalty, even while covered in imperial diamonds. Marjorie had an insatiable drive to live and love and to give more than she got.

Marjorie’s story, though full of beauty and grandeur, was equally marked by challenge and tumult. A wife four times over, Marjorie sought her happily-ever-after with the blue-blooded party boy, the charismatic financier, the international diplomat with a dark side, and the bon vivant whose shocking secrets would shake Marjorie and all of society. Marjorie did everything on a grand scale, especially when it came to love.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Invisible Woman

Allison Pataki Why did I love this book?

Virginia Hall is one woman whose stunning personal story ought to make her a household name. Robuck’s fascinating novel drops the reader into France in March of 1944, where the Nazis terrorize the population and American Special Ops leader Virginia Hall is doing all she can to subvert the occupiers and assist in the lead-up to D-Day. I barely breathed while reading this novel of one of the founding ladies of the CIA – and the best part of all? The story is true, and oh-so-inspiring. 

By Erika Robuck,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Invisible Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“An extraordinary profile of immense courage and daring.”—Chanel Cleeton, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Left Cuba
 
“If you only read one WWII book this year, make it this one."—Natasha Lester, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Orphans
 
In the depths of war, she would defy the odds to help liberate a nation…a gripping historical novel based on the remarkable true story of World War II heroine Virginia Hall, from the bestselling author of Hemingway’s Girl
 
France, March 1944. Virginia Hall wasn't like the other young society women back home in Baltimore—she never wanted the debutante…


Book cover of Next Year in Havana

Allison Pataki Why did I love this book?

This story of a Cuban-American family sweeps the reader from Havana to Florida, from the years of Fidel Castro’s Revolution into the present-day immigrant experience. Historical fiction is a gift to readers in that it puts us squarely into history’s most tumultuous and dramatic moments, and that is exactly what Cleeton has done with this beautiful and transportive novel of the Perez family.

By Chanel Cleeton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Next Year in Havana as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A HELLO SUNSHINE x REESE WITHERSPOON BOOK CLUB PICK

“A beautiful novel that's full of forbidden passions, family secrets and a lot of courage and sacrifice.”—Reese Witherspoon

After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity—and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution...

Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba's high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country's growing political unrest—until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary...

Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera…


Book cover of Hamnet

Allison Pataki Why did I love this book?

I knew very little of William Shakespeare’s wife and even less of the backstory to the bard’s writing of Hamlet. This gorgeous book blew me away as it put Shakespeare’s wife, Anne, center stage, opening up the imagined story of the Shakespeare family and both their Stratford and London households. The play may have been the thing, but O’Farrell’s book shows us that the story behind the play is just as enthralling.

By Maggie O'Farrell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE 2020 WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION - THE NO. 1 BESTSELLER 2021
'Richly sensuous... something special' The Sunday Times
'A thing of shimmering wonder' David Mitchell

TWO EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE. A LOVE THAT DRAWS THEM TOGETHER. A LOSS THAT THREATENS TO TEAR THEM APART.

On a summer's day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a sudden fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home?

Their mother, Agnes, is over a mile away, in the garden where she grows medicinal herbs. Their father is working in London.

Neither…


Book cover of A Thousand Splendid Suns

Allison Pataki Why did I love this book?

This is a haunting, beautiful, life-changing book, written by a beloved Afghan-American novelist. I read this book years ago and it’s one of those reads that will stay with me forever. At the center of this story are Mariam and Laila, two women brought together by war and upheaval, by family and love and loss. The third inspiring and heartbreaking lead character in this epic tale is the land of Afghanistan, whose story, as we see with heartbreaking clarity, is still very much one of upheaval, love, and war. 

By Khaled Hosseini,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked A Thousand Splendid Suns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE RICHARD & JUDY NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER

'A suspenseful epic' Daily Telegraph

'A triumph' Financial Times

'Heartbreaking' Mail on Sunday

'Deeply moving' Sunday Times

Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed. Nearly two decades later, a friendship grows between Mariam and a local teenager, Laila, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move a person to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with a startling heroism.


Book cover of The Diamond Eye

Allison Pataki Why did I love this book?

A quiet Soviet librarian becomes history’s deadliest female sniper. Based on a true story and sweeping readers from Kiev to Washington D.C. and back again to the Eastern Front, this book tells of the life of Mila Pavlichenko, or Lady Death, as she was known to the Nazis and Allies alike. We’ve all learned about World War II, about the Nazis and the Soviets and their deadly conflicts, but Quinn’s book puts us on the frontlines and allows us to experience history in a breathtaking and page-turning new way.

By Kate Quinn,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Diamond Eye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The brand-new historical novel based on a true story from the bestselling author of The Rose Code and The Alice Network

In the snowbound city of Kiev, aspiring historian Mila Pavlichenko's life revolves around her young son - until Hitler's invasion of Russia changes everything. Suddenly, she and her friends must take up arms to save their country from the Fuhrer's destruction.

Handed a rifle, Mila discovers a gift - and months of blood, sweat and tears turn the young woman into a deadly sniper: the most lethal hunter of Nazis.

Yet success is bittersweet. Mila is torn from the…


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Bottled Secrets of Rosewood

By Mary Kendall,

Book cover of Bottled Secrets of Rosewood

Mary Kendall Author Of Campbell's Boy

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Storyteller Historian Walking enthusiast Yogi

Mary's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Miranda falls in love with her dream house but soon discovers it's an affair with complications. A lot of them. Rosewood is a centuries old, tumble-down, gambrel roofed charmer located in an isolated, coastal corner of Virginia referred to as "strange". Known for long-standing and antiquated customs, an almost indecipherable brogue and possible witchcraft connections, Miranda shrugs all locational concerns aside to pursue her new love.

When an archeological dig is undertaken at the property, a series of incidents commences that goes beyond just "bumps in the night". Awakened one night by the eerie glow from a ring of fire around her house, Miranda must decide. Should she leave Rosewood or stay---and potentially pay the ultimate price?

Bottled Secrets of Rosewood

By Mary Kendall,

What is this book about?

After a logics professor buys the house of her dreams, she must contend with unexplainable happenings. An ancient blue bottle appears to be at the root of the mysterious incidents, but is it?

Miranda falls in love with her dream house but soon discovers it's an affair with complications. A lot of them. Rosewood is a centuries old, tumble-down, gambrel roofed charmer located in an isolated, coastal corner of Virginia referred to as ""strange"". Known for long-standing and antiquated customs, an almost indecipherable brogue and possible witchcraft connections, Miranda shrugs all locational concerns aside to pursue her new love.

When…


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