The best books that right the wrongs of history

Katherine Rothschild Author Of Wider Than the Sky
By Katherine Rothschild

Who am I?

History is full of injustice—and my work is centered around how characters deal with the injustice in their world. As a Lecturer in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University, I’m in a constant conversation about how language reflects social injustice—and social change. In my fiction, I like to struggle more creatively with how we revise history—and how we give some small measure of justice to our characters. In my first novel, Wider than the Sky, that injustice is how people who are bisexual have been treated historically, even within the gay community. In my second book, I’m looking at how teen girls are sexualized unfairly. 

I wrote...

Wider Than the Sky

By Katherine Rothschild,

Book cover of Wider Than the Sky

What is my book about?

Sixteen-year-old Sabine doesn’t have much in common with her twin, Blythe. When their father dies unexpectedly, each copes in her own way—Sabine by “poeting” (a quirk of bursting into poetry) and Blythe by obsessing over getting into MIT. Neither can offer each other support . . . until their emotionally detached mother moves them into a ramshackle mansion owned by Charlie, a stranger.

Soon, the sisters unite to figure out who Charlie is and why he knows everything about them. They quickly make a life-changing discovery: their parents had secret lives. The revelation unravels Sabine’s world, while practical Blythe takes everything in stride. Once again at odds, Sabine must decide if she will run from the truth, or forgive, and embrace her father’s last wish for their family legacy.

The books I picked & why

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My Lady Jane

By Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

Book cover of My Lady Jane

Why this book?

The history of women in the monarchy is annoying at best—it’s all cut off their heads and use them for heirs then let them die in a tower. My Lady Jane reimagines the life of Lady Jane Grey, known as the “nine days queen” who was a teenager on the throne before her execution (thanks to the next queen, Mary). What a trash fire of a teendom! This story deserved to be re-imagined with a lot more fun, a little bit of feminist magic, and a lot fewer executions. My own book reimagined a sad and dark history into one filled with forgiveness. Sometimes, reading a history made right can make us imagine a more just future!

Dread Nation

By Justina Ireland,

Book cover of Dread Nation

Why this book?

Dread Nation is both a reimagination of the dark days of slavery in America and a gruesomely fun zombie book. Similar to My Lady Jane, there’s a bit of magic (with the zombie situation) that adds to the pleasure of re-imagining a dark and terrible time. Readers get to dive into a new history where the main characters have more agency than they did historically—we experience formerly enslaved Black and Indigenous people who get to zombie-slaughter the bad guys! What could be more satisfying?  

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

By Mackenzi Lee,

Book cover of The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

Why this book?

We often forget that women weren’t educated until very recently. Hundreds of years went by—and women were kept illiterate, barred from schools, barefoot, and making porridge. What utter drivel! The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy attacks the history that kept women from studying and practicing medicine and takes us on pirate adventures. Plus, sapphic love! What more could we ask for? 

Alex & Eliza

By Melissa de la Cruz,

Book cover of Alex & Eliza

Why this book?

Everyone ships Alex and Eliza. Everyone. Okay, maybe not Angelica. But everyone else. And with the fabulous Hamilton musical, we move a little too quickly to Alex’s affair(s) and his life’s tragedy. Let us linger on the love story, will you? This book hones in on Alex and Eliza’s love story and lets us live through their courtship and loveship, and leaves out all those parts that are a bunch of big downers. While it doesn’t quite right a wrong of history—it does tell the part of the story we all want to linger in. 

Pride and Premeditation

By Tirzah Price,

Book cover of Pride and Premeditation

Why this book?

The one irritant of the Jane Austen books is the (various) sisters’ insufferable lack of agency. They must wait around and do nothing while other people decide their fates. It might have been historically accurate, but it’s a bore. Pride and Premeditation gives our old friend Elizabeth a lot more to do—like solve crimes—than play pianoforte badly. A fun and hilarious love story and a bit of a thrill, too, this book rights another wrong of those classic historical moments and stories we love—and turns a humble story into one full of fun. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in murders, the American Revolution, and African Americans?

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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