The best books to make you forget you’re living in the 21st century

Who am I?

Like Thomas Jefferson, I cannot live without books. And, while I read in a variety of genres, from early childhood on, my favorite stories were the ones that began with “once upon a time.” My fascination with historicals started with one of my father’s few books from his childhood, The Cave Twins, which introduced me to a world far different from suburban America. For me, the appeal of historicals is the opportunity to learn about another era and to escape from the modern world. And so, if you want to escape from what seems like an endless pandemic, I invite you to explore the worlds six talented authors have created.


I wrote...

The Spark of Love

By Amanda Cabot,

Book cover of The Spark of Love

What is my book about?

When a spurned suitor threatens her, heiress Alexandra Tarkington flees New York for Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country, where her father is building a hotel. But her father insists she return to New York. Instead, Alexandra carves out a niche for herself in town, teaching schoolchildren to paint and enjoying the company of Gabe Seymour, a delightful man she met on the stagecoach.

Two men, each with his own agenda, have followed her to Mesquite Springs. And Gabe is an investigator, searching for proof that her father is a swindler. When a series of apparent accidents threaten her life, Alexandra and Gabe will have to work together to discover the truth. And perhaps they will discover that the sparks they've felt from the beginning are more than sparks--they're love.

The books I picked & why

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Along a Storied Trail

By Ann H. Gabhart,

Book cover of Along a Storied Trail

Why this book?

One of the things I admire most about Ann Gabhart is that her stories are predictable – predictably wonderful, that is. There’s no predictability about her characters and plots. When I pick up one of her books, I know I’ll be transported to a different time and place and that while I’m immersed in her story, I’ll forget reality. In Along a Storied Trail she took me to rural Kentucky and a little-known (at least to me) part of history as she told the story of a packhorse librarian during the Great Depression. Her descriptions are so vivid and the dialogue so realistic that I felt as if I were there along with Tansy and Perdita. This is a story to savor, Gabhart’s best one yet.

Along a Storied Trail

By Ann H. Gabhart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Along a Storied Trail as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Gabhart's skillful use of period details and the Appalachian landscape lend plenty of atmosphere to accompany the lessons of hope, compassion, and fortitude amid hardship. This is her best historical inspirational yet."--Publishers Weekly starred review

"Gabhart crafts an absorbing story that deeply explores the rich tradition of storytelling."--Booklist

***

Kentucky packhorse librarian Tansy Calhoun doesn't mind the rough trails and long hours as she serves her Appalachian mountain community during the Great Depression. Yet she longs to find love like the heroines in her books. When a charming writer comes to town, she thinks she might have found it--or is…


A Cowboy for Keeps

By Jody Hedlund,

Book cover of A Cowboy for Keeps

Why this book?

Like many authors, I’m a very picky reader and frequently abandon books after reading less than 10 percent. Over the past year or so, I’ve found myself abandoning more and more historicals because of poor writing, anachronisms, or unrealistic characters. I was beginning to despair of finding a book that met my standards, and then I opened A Cowboy for Keeps. Not only did Hedlund’s story meet my standards, it exceeded them. Her beautiful writing and vivid descriptions immersed me in the Old West, and the story itself was so riveting that while I wanted to see what happened next, part of me hated the idea of turning the last page. This is an outstanding historical romance.

A Cowboy for Keeps

By Jody Hedlund,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Cowboy for Keeps as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Greta Nilsson's trip west to save her ailing little sister, Astrid, could not have gone more wrong. First, bandits hold up her stagecoach, stealing all her money. Then, upon arriving in Fairplay, Colorado, she learns the man she was betrothed to as a mail-order bride has died. Homeless, penniless, and jobless, Greta and her sister are worse off than when they started.

Wyatt McQuaid is struggling to get his new ranch up and running and is in town to purchase cattle when the mayor proposes the most unlikely of bargains. He'll invest in a herd of cattle for Wyatt's ranch…


A View Most Glorious

By Regina Scott,

Book cover of A View Most Glorious

Why this book?

The first time I saw Mount Rainier, I joked with my husband that we ought to find a way to live within sight of it. That didn’t happen, but the memory of its beauty didn’t fade, and so when I was given an opportunity to read an advance copy of Regina Scott’s latest American Wonders book featuring a heroine who attempts to climb Mount Rainier, I said, “yes, please!” What a great book! The combination of multi-faceted characters, a careful blending of fact and fiction, and fascinating descriptions of mountain climbing in the early twentieth century kept me turning pages instead of sleeping or working on my own manuscript. This is a truly unputdownable book. 

A View Most Glorious

By Regina Scott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A View Most Glorious as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Scott's historical inspirational romance captures the magnificence of the mountain and the thrilling triumph of climbers in the 1890s . . . This is a truly remarkable conclusion to Scott's exceptional American Wonders trilogy."--Booklist starred review

***

Reluctant socialite Coraline Baxter longs to live a life of significance and leave her mark on the world. When her local suffragette group asks her to climb Mount Rainier to raise awareness of their cause, she jumps at the chance, even though she has absolutely no climbing experience. If she can do it, any woman can do it. And after her mother issues…


The Swiss Courier

By Tricia Goyer, Mike Yorkey,

Book cover of The Swiss Courier

Why this book?

There were so many things that I loved about this book, starting with its riveting first scene. When I teach classes about great beginnings, I stress the need to hook a reader in the first three pages. Goyer and Yorkey did that and more. They kept me hooked until the surprising denouement. Make no mistake. I would not have wanted to live in Europe during World War II, but Goyer and Yorkey’s collaboration is filled with so many fascinating details of life during that tumultuous and dangerous time along with an introduction to the fine art of safe cracking that I couldn’t put it down. 

The Swiss Courier

By Tricia Goyer, Mike Yorkey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It is August 1944 and the Gestapo is mercilessly rounding up suspected enemies of the Third Reich. When Joseph Engel, a German physicist working on the atomic bomb, finds that he is actually a Jew, adopted by Christian parents, he must flee for his life to neutral Switzerland. Gabi Mueller is a young Swiss-American woman working for the newly formed American Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the CIA) close to Nazi Germany. When she is asked to risk her life to safely "courier" Engel out of Germany, the fate of the world rests in her hands. If she…


Secrets on the Wind

By Stephanie Grace Whitson,

Book cover of Secrets on the Wind

Why this book?

“You ought to write inspirationals.” Every time a reader told me that, I’d shake my head and reply, “They’re too preachy.” But then a dear friend’s death made me reconsider the direction of my writing, and I began to research the inspirational market. One of the first books I read was Secrets on the Wind, the first of Whitson’s Pine Ridge Portraits trilogy. To my delight, she combined meticulous research, sprinkling her story with “telling” details that brought the Nebraska prairie and Fort Robinson to life, and unforgettable characters to create a story that’s lingered in my memory for more than a decade. Best of all, she demonstrated that faith-friendly fiction doesn’t need to be preachy. I’m deeply grateful to her because Secrets on the Wind convinced me that this was the right market for me. 

Secrets on the Wind

By Stephanie Grace Whitson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Secrets on the Wind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Pine Ridge Portraits series opens as two soldiers discover a desperate woman hidden in a cellar, then take her back with them to their U.S. Army post at Fort Robinson. The painful secrets surrounding Laina Gray and her seeming indiffernce toward those who try to help her will touch readers deeply as her journey to faith unfolds. Every effort is made to reach out to this strange, silent woman, but after living through her worst nightmare, she isn't soon ready to trust anyone with her secrets...not God, and definitely not the handsome soldier who tries to befriend her.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in romantic love, Nebraska, and librarians?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about romantic love, Nebraska, and librarians.

Romantic Love Explore 508 books about romantic love
Nebraska Explore 22 books about Nebraska
Librarians Explore 38 books about librarians

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs, The Giver of Stars, and The Librarian of Crooked Lane if you like this list.