The best “truth is stranger than fiction” books

Who am I?

I write about magic, witches, and weirdness—and all of it is inspired by the strange and startlingly true stories that hide just below the simmering surface of America’s melting pot. As a former journalist, I learned that everyone has an interesting tale to tell. And as a fiction writer, I’ve learned that all of that truth can be spun into something even more fun and fantastical. Reality, after all, is relative. 


I wrote...

Herrick's End

By T.M. Blanchet,

Book cover of Herrick's End

What is my book about?

Ollie's only friend disappeared a few days ago, and now, he's frantic to find her. But he doesn't have much to go on until a mysterious note arrives, which reads: "Still looking for your friend? I know where she is." Unfortunately for Ollie, the trail leads to the last place he'd ever expect.

A shy Boston kid finds himself sucked into a dangerous, magical world below Boston when he goes in search of a missing friend.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal, and Hysteria in 1692 Salem

T.M. Blanchet Why did I love this book?

For me, Stacy Schiff’s masterpiece is the end-all, be-all resource when it comes to the history of early America’s witchcraft trials—which, it turns out, extended far beyond the village of Salem. The seed for my own novel came from one tiny line in the book’s “Cast of Characters” index: “Herrick, George, well-born, handsome Salem deputy sheriff in his thirties…Spends 1692 rounding up and transporting witches.”

By Stacy Schiff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book is written specifically for family or primary care physicians who encounter substance abuse in their daily practice. A Clinical Guide to Drug and Alcohol Problems provides a comprehensive overview to help diagnose and treat these problems. The first five chapters provide basic information on historical and cultural issues, plus the pharmacology of all abused drugs the physician is likely to come into contact with and the epidemiology and etiology of substance abuse problems. The author then addresses the clinical manifestions and course of addiction; diagnostic techniques; principles of clinical management, treatment, and rehabilitation of addictive and other associated…


Book cover of The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

T.M. Blanchet Why did I love this book?

The 1893 World’s Fair. A serial killer. Wonderous and magical inventions. And every crazy word of it is true! (One example: No one thought the enormous and strange contraption known as the “Ferris Wheel” would withstand its first turn—no one but the inventor’s supportive wife, that is. Margaret Ferris insisted on being the first to take a ride!) Erik Larson does a brilliant job of combining historical facts with the sights, sounds, and (ugh) smells of nineteenth-century Chicago. 

By Erik Larson,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked The Devil in the White City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Chicago World Fair was the greatest fair in American history. This is the story of the men and women whose lives it irrevocably changed and of two men in particular- an architect and a serial killer. The architect is Daniel Burnham, a man of great integrity and depth. It was his vision of the fair that attracted the best minds and talents of the day. The killer is Henry H. Holmes. Intelligent as well as handsome and charming, Holmes opened a boarding house which he advertised as 'The World's Fair Hotel' Here in the neighbourhood where he was once…


Book cover of Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States

T.M. Blanchet Why did I love this book?

Bill Bryson’s other books are more famous, but this one is my favorite. It details the wacky, startling, and sometimes unbelievable stories behind all the common phrases and words we use. I always keep a (lovingly tattered) copy in my car. You can pick it up, turn to any random page, and be happily engrossed for five minutes—or five hours. 

By Bill Bryson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this sequel to his history of the English language, "Mother Tongue", Bryson takes an informed and fond look at the history of Americans through their popular culture and language. He explains why they drive on the right, say "lootenant", and call a certain type of sandwich a "hamburger".


Book cover of The Library Book

T.M. Blanchet Why did I love this book?

It’s the story of a true crime, yes… But Susan Orlean’s fantastic book is also a love letter to one of America’s most incredible, beneficial, and undervalued institutions. I thought I knew what libraries are, what they do, and who they help. Then I read this book and realized that I didn’t have the first clue.

By Susan Orlean,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Susan Orlean’s bestseller and New York Times Notable Book is “a sheer delight…as rich in insight and as varied as the treasures contained on the shelves in any local library” (USA TODAY)—a dazzling love letter to a beloved institution and an investigation into one of its greatest mysteries. “Everybody who loves books should check out The Library Book” (The Washington Post).

On the morning of April 28, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. The fire was disastrous: it reached two thousand degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished,…


Book cover of Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger Among the Pilgrims

T.M. Blanchet Why did I love this book?

Subtitled A Stranger Among the Pilgrims, this little gem details the unlikely story of Richard More, who arrived on our shores as a child on The Mayflower…then grew up, moved north to Salem Village, and watched one of his best friends die in the infamous witch trials. The author also happens to be More’s descendant, which brings an extra passion to the telling.

By David Lindsay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When David Lindsay started researching old records for details of the life of his ancestor, Richard More, what he found illuminated more than just More's own life. The tale that emerged painted a clear and satisfying picture of the way the first comers, saints and strangers alike, set off for the new land, suffered the voyage in the Mayflower, and put down their roots to thrive on our continent's north-eastern shore. From the story emerges the individual, Richard, a man of questionable morals, much enterprise, and a good deal of old-fashioned pluck - a combination that could get him into…


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Dinner with Churchill

By Robin Hawdon,

Book cover of Dinner with Churchill

Robin Hawdon Author Of Number Ten

New book alert!

Who am I?

My writing is eclectic and covers many topics. However, all my books tend to have a thriller element to them. Perhaps it's my career as an actor and playwright which has instilled the need to create suspense in all my writings. I sometimes feel that distinguished authors can get so carried away with their literary descriptions and philosophical insights that they forget to keep the story going! It is the need to know what happens next that keeps the reader turning the pages. Perhaps in achieving that some subtlety has to be sacrificed, but, hey, you don't read a political thriller to study the philosophical problems of governing nations!

Robin's book list on lone heroes and threats to national security

What is my book about?

This is a new novel by one of the UK's most prolific writers. It is based around an extraordinary true incident at the start of World War II when fierce political opponents Winston Churchill and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain encountered each other at a famous dinner party. Seen from the perspective of Lucy Armitage, a young girl suddenly conscripted by a strange stroke of fate into Churchill's overworked but adoring team of secretaries.

As Churchill prepares to take over the leadership of the nation, Lucy finds herself increasingly involved in her famous employer's phenomenal work output and eccentric habits. When romance and the world of espionage impinge on her life, she becomes a vital part of the eternal struggle between good and evil regimes that still exists today.

Dinner with Churchill

By Robin Hawdon,

What is this book about?

It is on historical record that, on the evening of October 13th 1939, six weeks after war had been declared on Hitler's Germany, Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain, fierce and implacable opponents for years over the appeasement issue, met together with their two wives, Clementine and Anne, for a private dinner at Admiralty House, and event which caused ripples throughout Westminster.

Chamberlain was still Prime Minister, but had seen all his efforts to negotiate peace with Hitler shattered. Churchill had been recalled to the cabinet after ten years 'in the wilderness', his dire warnings of the Nazi threat vindicated.

Lucy…


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