The most recommended books about Christopher Columbus

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16 authors created a book list connected to Christopher Columbus, and here are their favorite Christopher Columbus books.
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What type of Christopher Columbus book?


The Verge

By Patrick Wyman,

Book cover of The Verge: Reformation, Renaissance, and Forty Years that Shook the World

Larry Silver Author Of Europe Views the World, 1500-1700

From Larry's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Historian Professor Traveler

Larry's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Larry's 4-year-old's favorite books.

Why did Larry love this book?

The kind of history I love—a significant short period, examined closely but through the lives of wildly different individuals, from Columbus to Luther, who changed society, thought, and culture and brought on the seeds of our modern world.

This is highly readable and constantly shifting in focus in each biography-based contribution. This is storytelling through individual lives but with major consequences.

By Patrick Wyman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the bestselling tradition of The Swerve and A Distant Mirror, THE VERGE tells the story of a period that marked a decisive turning point for both European and world history. Here, author Patrick Wyman examines two complementary and contradictory sides of the same historical coin: the world-altering implications of the developments of printed mass media, extreme taxation, exploitative globalization, humanistic learning, gunpowder warfare, and mass religious conflict in the long term, and their intensely disruptive consequences in the short-term.

As told through the lives of ten real people -- from famous figures like Christopher Columbus and wealthy banker Jakob…

The Rose Demon

By Paul Doherty,

Book cover of The Rose Demon: A Terrifying Tale of Medieval England

Mary-Jean Harris Author Of Night Of The Immortals

From the list on historical fantasy with captivating natural magic.

Who am I?

As a fantasy reader and writer, I love to explore magic systems and see how a story can seamlessly be brought to life. The natural, mysterious magic we often see in fantasy creates a sense of whimsy and wonder that takes readers to new worlds. I have two degrees in theoretical physics and a minor in philosophy, something that would seem to naturally lead to science fiction, but it’s also true that understanding magic is related to science. Indeed, the physicist Albert Einstein once said: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” I hope you find some new books on this list that will sweep you to another world!

Mary-Jean's book list on historical fantasy with captivating natural magic

Why did Mary-Jean love this book?

This is a darker read than the others on my list, but it’s such an excellent book that it deserves a place here. The story follows Matthias through the trials of his life with a breathtaking plot across different cultures and times. We see a battle involved in the War of the Roses, James III's court in Edinburgh, Scotland, Isabella and Ferdinand recapturing Granada from the Moors, and even Christopher Columbus, all of whom are truly real characters we can relate to. The magic involved is that of the Rose Demon which, like natural magic, is caught in glimpses and naturally woven into the tale. Though sometimes shocking when there is demonic possession, The Rose Demon is a beautiful read that should not be passed over!

By Paul Doherty,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Matthias Fitzosbert is the illegitimate son of the parish priest of the village of Sutton Courteny. Despite the recent spate of murders, each day he braves the dark woods to visit his friend, a mysterious hermit who shows him many strange and beautiful things. Though enthralled, the boy is always puzzled by his lessons with the hermit - never more so than the night the villagers hunt the hermit down, and burn him, believing him to be responsible for the many deaths.

THE ROSE DEMON explores Matthias's unique relationship with a spirit he strives to placate but ultimately flees from.…

The Queen's Vow

By C. W. Gortner,

Book cover of The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile

Bárbara Mujica Author Of I Am Venus: A Novel

From the list on historical novels featuring strong, feisty women.

Who am I?

A professor of 16th- and 17th-century Spanish literature and culture at Georgetown University with a focus on women’s writing and the mystics, I am also the author of four bio-novels, all of which feature indomitable female protagonists. Whether queens, saints, or not-so-ordinary housemaids, the protagonists of the books I have chosen (and my own) demonstrate the power and vulnerability of women in early modern Europe. Fiction and scholarship overlap in my work, as I am often able to bring my academic research into my fiction. Two of my latest scholarly books are Teresa de Ávila, Lettered Woman and Women Religious and Epistolary Exchange in the Carmelite Reform

Bárbara's book list on historical novels featuring strong, feisty women

Why did Bárbara love this book?

Isabella of Castile is one of Spain’s most controversial and complicated queens. I have been teaching Spanish history for decades, so it was particularly thrilling for me to see how C.W. Gortner brings this dynamic woman to life. Having engineered her own marriage to Fernando of Aragon, Isabella contrived to back the voyages of Christopher Columbus and took an active part in the war against the Moors in Granada. She resists and finally succumbs to the demands of the fanatical inquisitor Torquemada, who urges her to rid the realm of Jews. Gortner recreates the climate of intrigue, the bloody battlefields, and the lush gardens of Andalusia so beautifully that you feel as though you were there.  

By C. W. Gortner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A masterwork by a skilled craftsman . . . Make a vow to read this book.”—New York Journal of Books
Isabella is barely a teenager when she becomes an unwitting pawn in a plot to dethrone her half brother, King Enrique. Suspected of treason and held captive, she treads a perilous path, torn between loyalties, until at age seventeen she suddenly finds herself heiress of Castile, the largest kingdom in Spain. Plunged into a deadly conflict to secure her crown, she is determined to wed the one man she loves yet who is forbidden to her—Fernando, prince of Aragón. As…


By Orson Scott Card,

Book cover of Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus

Bob Zeidman Author Of Animal Lab

From the list on dystopian books that are great lessons for today.

Who am I?

While every single attempt at socialism in human history has failed, usually leading to the murder of millions of people, it is being revived by those who think they can “do it right this time.” I’ve been writing about American principles and American values for newspapers and magazines for years. The threat to the exceptional American experiment that has led so many people of all backgrounds to success and happiness, led me to write this novel. I hope that it is fun enough and interesting enough that many readers will enjoy it, and more importantly learn from it. And take action to preserve the values and principles of America that have uplifted and inspired so many for over two centuries.

Bob's book list on dystopian books that are great lessons for today

Why did Bob love this book?

This is one of the least-known books by science fiction writer Orson Scott Card, but it’s my favorite. In a dying future, scientists are sent back to the past to initially transcribe history and later to change it when they discover that possibility. Time travel books can either be an interesting intellectual exercise or a jumble of logical impossibilities. This is the former, but it is also a great historical description of the discovery of the New World including all of the wonders and atrocities. It confronts the disturbing roots of European and American slavery as well as the barbarism of native American cultures. It is a well-written, exciting, emotional experience full of fascinating personalities, high adventure, historical narratives, and serious questions about morality.

By Orson Scott Card,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

After a scientific innovation allows researchers to open a window on the past, a young woman sends an individual onto a slightly different path in life, interference that has unexpected repercussions for the present and future.

The Worlds of Christopher Columbus

By William D. Phillips Jr., Carla Rahn Phillips,

Book cover of The Worlds of Christopher Columbus

Ida Altman Author Of Life and Society in the Early Spanish Caribbean: The Greater Antilles, 1493-1550

From the list on what happened after Columbus got to the Caribbean.

Who am I?

Throughout my career as a historian I’ve been interested in the expansion of the Iberian world and its consequences for societies and cultures in Spain as well as Spanish America, especially Mexico. I knew that the Caribbean, the first site of European activity in the Americas, played an important role in that story, yet paradoxically it didn’t seem to receive much attention from historians, at least in the U.S. When I finally decided to focus my research on the period immediately following Columbus’s first voyages, I entered into a complex and dynamic world of danger, ambition, exploitation, and novelty. I hope to open that world to others in my book.

Ida's book list on what happened after Columbus got to the Caribbean

Why did Ida love this book?

This lively and accessible book contextualizes Columbus’s complex life and career within the multiple ‘worlds’– Genoa, Portugal, Spain, the Caribbean – that he inhabited and the intellectual and political developments that shaped him. Columbus was controversial in his own lifetime and remains so to the present day. Neither justifying nor condemning him for his role in bringing Europeans to the Americas, these two experienced historians lay to rest the myths and misinformation that have distorted our understanding of this larger-than-life historical figure. This book is always my starting point when I need to know something about Columbus. 

By William D. Phillips Jr., Carla Rahn Phillips,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Columbus was born in the mid-fifteenth century, Europe was largely isolated from the rest of the Old World - Africa and Asia - and ignorant of the existence of the world of the Western Hemisphere. The voyages of Christopher Columbus opened a period of European exploration and empire building that breached the boundaries of those isolated worlds and changed the course of human history. This book describes the life and times of Christopher Columbus on the 500th aniversary of his first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492. Since ancient times, Europeans had dreamed of discovering new routes to…

Yiddish for Pirates

By Gary Barwin,

Book cover of Yiddish for Pirates

K.R. Wilson Author Of Call Me Stan: A Tragedy in Three Millennia

From the list on deeply weird historical novels.

Who am I?

I’m a writer in Toronto, Canada. My novel Call Me Stan is weird historical fiction. Probably not as weird as the books below, but still weird. Its initial inspiration was the stunning cognitive dissonance between composer Richard Wagner’s vile anti-Semitism and his fascination with the Buddha. If I’d stuck with just that idea, I might’ve ended up with a fairly conventional historical novel. But a second idea collided with it and gave it energy: the legend of the cursed immortal referred to as the Wandering Jew. That gave me a present-day narrator who could carry us through a vast sweep of history in a jarringly anachronistic way. Which was exactly weird enough for me. 

K.R.'s book list on deeply weird historical novels

Why did K.R. love this book?

Gary Barwin had to make this list. He’s a Prospero of historical weirdness. I was torn between this book and his more recent novel Nothing the Same, Everything Haunted: The Ballad of Motl the Cowboy, which follows its titular character on a harrowing journey across Nazi-infested Europe to retrieve his shot-off-by-a-Dadaist testicles from a Swiss glacier. But Yiddish for Pirates wins the toss because it’s narrated by a parrot.

Aharon, a Yiddish-idiom-spouting 500-year-old ship’s parrot, traces the life of his Captain, Moishe, from a shtetl near Vilnius through Torquemada’s Inquisition and Columbus’ brutal conquest of the Caribbean to an eventual erratic career in piracy, with a couple of quests along the way. What makes Barwin’s work sing is the tragic humanity within the swirl of its jaw-dropping narrative ridiculousness.

By Gary Barwin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and nominated for the Governor-General's Award for Literature, a hilarious, swashbuckling yet powerful tale of pirates, buried treasure and a search for the Fountain of Youth, told in the ribald, philosophical voice of a 500-year-old Jewish parrot.

Set in the years around 1492, Yiddish for Pirates recounts the compelling story of Moishe, a Bar Mitzvah boy who leaves home to join a ship's crew, where he meets Aaron, the polyglot parrot who becomes his near-constant companion.
     From a present-day Florida nursing home, this wisecracking yet poetic bird guides us through a world of pirate…

Book cover of The Imaginative Landscape of Christopher Columbus

Toby Lester Author Of The Fourth Part of the World: An Astonishing Epic of Global Discovery, Imperial Ambition, and the Birth of America

From the list on geographical ideas behind the age of discovery.

Who am I?

I’m a writer and an editor with eclectic interests. I’ve published two books of popular history—Da Vinci's Ghost (2012), about Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, and The Fourth Part of the World (2009), about the map that gave America its name. I’ve also written extensively for national publications on such topics as the sociology of new religious movements, privacy protection in the Internet age, the Voynich manuscript, the revisionist study of the Qur’an, the revival of ancient Greek music, and alphabet reform in Azerbaijan. I’m presently a senior editor at the Harvard Business Review and a contributing editor at The Atlantic. From 1988-1990, I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Yemen.

Toby's book list on geographical ideas behind the age of discovery

Why did Toby love this book?

This is a lapidary introduction to the stories and ideas that prompted Columbus to sail away from Europe into the Atlantic in search of a direct sea route to Asia—and that determined how he interpreted what he came across after making landfall in the Americas. In just 200 pages, Flint nimbly covers all sorts of material: Christian theories of cosmology and eschatology; medieval conceptions of geography; the travel stories of St. Brendan, Sinbad the Sailor, Sir John Mandeville, and Marco Polo; the books that Columbus read, and the notes he made in them to himself; and more. In doing so, she reanimates a fascinating landscape of the imagination.

By Valerie Irene Jane Flint,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Rather than focusing on the well-rehearsed facts of Columbus's achievements in the New World, Valerie Flint looks instead at his imaginative mental images, the powerful "fantasies" that gave energy to his endeavors in the Renaissance. With him on his voyages into the unknown, he carried medieval notions gleaned from a Mediterranean tradition of tall tales about the sea, from books he had read, and from the mappae-mundi, splendid schematic maps with fantastic inhabitants. After investigating these sources of Columbus's views, Flint explains how the content of his thinking influenced his reports on his discoveries. Finally, she argues that problems besetting…

Sun, Sea and Sangria

By Victoria Cooke,

Book cover of Sun, Sea and Sangria

Victoria Browne Author Of Gut Feeling

From the list on vacation reads about love and friendship.

Who am I?

Romance and chick-lit books hooked me as a young adult. It was this genre that inspired me to write. Since publishing my first book Gut Feeling in 2012 I’ve since written three chick-lit novels and a holiday rom-com screenplay. The fiction world of perfectly unperfect romance never fails.   

Victoria's book list on vacation reads about love and friendship

Why did Victoria love this book?

An easy vacation read is my go-to, so this book was perfect. I also read this during lockdown, when a vacation was only a fantasy anyway. It will not disappoint, the sun is real, the life is real and the need for love is compelling. Kat is a cute character I can relate to because I also moved to a country where it is summer all year round, but the sun doesn’t take your worries away.  

By Victoria Cooke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This has been the PERFECT escapist read. Lockdown has definitely been made better with this utter gem of a book.' - 5 stars, Netgalley reviewer

Kat swore off dating many years ago, after her marriage ended in a catastrophic mess. Having moved to the Canary Islands for a fresh start, she has never had much time for romance, channelling all her energy into managing an all-male dance troupe - the Heavenly Hunks.

With golden beaches, sparkling blue water and relaxing after work with a glass of sangria - or three - for Kat, it's summer all year round.

But despite…

Great Issues in American History, Vol. I

By Richard Hofstadter, Clarence L. Ver Steeg,

Book cover of Great Issues in American History, Vol. I: From Settlement to Revolution, 1584-1776

Louis P. Masur Author Of The Sum of Our Dreams: A Concise History of America

From the list on the real history of America.

Who am I?

Louis P. Masur is a cultural historian who has written on a range of topics in American history, from Abraham Lincoln to Bruce Springsteen, from the first World Series to a photograph that shocked the nation. An award-winning teacher, Masur lectures frequently on various topics in American history. His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and Slate. The Sum of Our Dreams emerged out a course he teaches on the American Dream, which, somehow, he still believes in.

Louis' book list on the real history of America

Why did Louis love this book?

There is no better way to understand American history than to read the sources out of which we understand the past and through which historians craft their narratives. This collection was published long ago and it only goes to 1981, but it provides an excellent selection of speeches, decisions, and reports that open a direct path to learning American history.

By Richard Hofstadter, Clarence L. Ver Steeg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Great Issues in American History, Vol. I as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This first volume of Great Issues in American History -- three volumes of documents that cover the history of America from its settlement to the present -- gives us a generous sampling from the major political controversies in the Colonial period. Included are such documents as Richard Hakluyt's "Discourse of Western Planting" (1584), "Letter from Christopher Columbus to the King and Queen of Spain" (undated, probably 1694), "The Third Virginia Charter" (1612), Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" (1776) and "The Declaration of independence" (July 4, 1776). Each has an explanatory headnote, and there are brief general introductions that set the selections…

Book cover of The Fall of the House of Usher

Nancy Schoenberger Author Of Blanche: The Life and Times of Tennessee Williams's Greatest Creation

From the list on gothic tales of houses.

Who am I?

I have always loved novels and stories in which houses have a strong presence, beginning with Nathanial Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the Houses of Usher, and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. In tales like these, the family home — whether a birthright or an accidental place of abode — not only provides a shivery, Gothic atmosphere but also stands as a metaphor for the sicknesses that can sometimes fester in families -- paranoia, isolation, emotional incest. Belle Reve, Blanche, and Stella's decaying and sold-off ancestral home, hovers over “A Streetcar Named Desire.” My favorite house-themed books begin with two works by the incomparable Shirley Jackson.

Nancy's book list on gothic tales of houses

Why did Nancy love this book?

Another unnamed narrator visits Roderick Usher, an old friend, in yet another decaying mansion that houses an isolated, disturbed familyRoderick and his twin sister, Madeline. They are the last of the Ushers, but she has fallen into a cataleptic stateone of Poe’s treasured themes! The manse itself is surrounded by a lake, and a crack runs the length of the house. Roderick tells his friend that the house is alive and entwined with his and Madeline’s fate. Madeline dies and is entombed in the family vault, but Roderick fears that she’s not really dead. During a cataclysmic storm, Madeline has indeed clawed her way out of her tomb and she attacks her brother. The narrator flees into the night, looking back to see the house split in two and crumble into fragments, becoming the final tomb for Roderick and his sister. Dark!  

By Edgar Allan Poe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The eerie tales of Edgar Allan Poe remain among the most brilliant and influential works in American literature. Some of the celebrated tales contained in this unique volume include: the world's finest two detective stories - "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" and "The Purloined Letter"; and three stories sure to make a reader's hair stand on end - "The Cask of Amontillado," "The Tell-Tlae Heart," and "The Masque of the Red Death."

* Includes a New Introduction by Stephen Marlowe, author of The Memoirs of Christopher Columbus and The Lighthouse at the End of the World
* The Signet…

Colonial Encounters

By Peter Hulme,

Book cover of Colonial Encounters: Europe and the Native Caribbean, 1492-1797

Andrew Hadfield Author Of Amazons, Savages, and Machiavels: Travel and Colonial Writing in English, 1550-1630: An Anthology

From the list on early English travel writing.

Who am I?

I am a Professor of English at the University of Sussex. I have worked on a wide range of subjects over the years, mainly about the English Renaissance. I have a long-standing interest in travel and colonial writing, the ways in which the English interacted with other peoples and other places, which started with my interest in Ireland where I studied and which was the subject of my early books. I have broadened my perspective as I have read more on the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Asia, over the years and am committed to uncovering the truth of the uncomfortable, challenging, and fascinating history of the early British Empire.

Andrew's book list on early English travel writing

Why did Andrew love this book?

A brilliant and incisive reading of European-Caribbean relations from the first encounters on Christopher Columbus’s voyages.

Peter Hulme shows how central the Caribbean was to English and European thinking about the world and how the region defined English approaches to the rest of the world in the first age of the British Empire.

By Peter Hulme,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Europe encountered America in 1492, a meeting of cultures graphically described in the log-book kept by Christopher Columbus. His stories of peaceful savages and cruel "cannibals" have formed the matrix for all subsequent descriptions of that native Caribbean society. The encounter itself has obsesssed colonialist writing. It reappears in the early 17th century in the story of John Smith and Pocahontas, and on the Jacobean stage in the figures of Prospero and Caliban. In the 18th century, over two hundred years after the European discovery of the Caribbean, the idea of a pristine encounter still permeated European literature through Robinson…

Book cover of The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books: Christopher Columbus, His Son, and the Quest to Build the World's Greatest Library

Andrew Pettegree Author Of The Library: A Fragile History

From the list on the history of communication.

Who am I?

I started academic life as a historian of the Protestant Reformation, and gradually shifted to the history of communication, in the process creating a major online resource documenting publications from all over the world in the first two centuries of printing, the Universal Short Title Catalogue. After several works on books, news, and information culture I teamed up with another St Andrews colleague, Arthur der Weduwen, to enjoy the pleasures of co-authorship: this book, a history of libraries and book collecting, is our fourth collaboration.

Andrew's book list on the history of communication

Why did Andrew love this book?

What do you do if your father has just discovered whole new continents? In the case of Hernando, son of Christopher Columbus, the answer was to conquer a new world of his own: the new universe of printed books. In this beautifully written and accessible study, Edward Wilson-Lee explores Hernando’s quixotic yet determined attempt to emulate the library of ancient Alexandria by creating a universal library of print. It does not end well.

By Edward Wilson-Lee,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This impeccably researched and “adventure-packed” (The Washington Post) account of the obsessive quest by Christopher Columbus’s son to create the greatest library in the world is “the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters” (NPR) and offers a vivid picture of Europe on the verge of becoming modern.

At the peak of the Age of Exploration, Hernando Colón sailed with his father Christopher Columbus on his final voyage to the New World, a journey that ended in disaster, bloody mutiny, and shipwreck. After Columbus’s death in 1506, eighteen-year-old Hernando sought to continue—and surpass—his father’s campaign to explore the boundaries of the known world…


By Laurence Bergreen,

Book cover of Columbus: The Four Voyages, 1492-1504

Kim MacQuarrie Author Of Life and Death in the Andes: On the Trail of Bandits, Heroes, and Revolutionaries

From the list on South American history.

Who am I?

I lived in Peru for five years, working as a writer, filmmaker, and anthropologist and have travelled extensively in South America, voyaging 4,500 miles from the northern tip of the Andes down to the southern tip of Patagonia, lived with a recently-contacted tribe in the Upper Amazon, visited Maoist Shining Path “liberated zones” in Peru and later made a number of documentaries on the Amazon as well as have written a number of books. Historically, culturally and biologically, South America remains one of the most interesting places on Earth.

Kim's book list on South American history

Why did Kim love this book?

If you want to understand how both South America and the New World were “discovered” by Europeans, which had nearly the same effect on Native Americans that a meteor did on the dinosaurs, there’s no better way to understand it than to journey along on Columbus’ four voyages and be there when he and his crew set ashore. Columbus set foot on the northern part of South America on his third voyage, visiting the coast of what is now Venezuela. Bergreen’s book does an admirable job of introducing you to the man whose voyages would ultimately affect millions of people. This is the closest anyone will ever get to being on board as an entirely New World first hove into sight.

By Laurence Bergreen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

He knew nothing of celestial navigation or of the existence of the Pacific Ocean. He was a self-promoting and ambitious entrepreneur. His maps were a hybrid of fantasy and delusion. When he did make land, he enslaved the populace he found, encouraged genocide, and polluted relations between peoples. He ended his career in near lunacy.

But Columbus had one asset that made all the difference, an inborn sense of the sea, of wind and weather, and of selecting the optimal course to get from A to B. Laurence Bergreen's energetic and bracing book gives the whole Columbus and most importantly,…

Book cover of The Memoirs of Christopher Columbus

Christopher Harris Author Of Mappamundi

From the list on getting right inside the minds of historical people.

Who am I?

I am the author of the Byzantine Trilogy (in 4 parts). These books depict the difficult beginning, decadent apogee, and sad end of the Byzantine empire. I think it is important to make historical fiction vivid, to immerse the reader in a distant time and place, with all its sights, smells, sounds, and tastes, as experienced by someone who was really there. I am also interested in what people believed, and why. For that reason, my historical novels are all first-person narratives, stories told by the people who lived through them. Here are some of the fictional memoirs that inspired me to start writing.

Christopher's book list on getting right inside the minds of historical people

Why did Christopher love this book?

A surreal picaresque, apparently narrated by the ghost of Columbus, who knows exactly how posterity has treated him and sets out to tell the ‘true’ story of his life and adventures. Written in a lively, vernacular style, full of jokes, arguments, boasts, anachronisms, score-settling, and shifts of tone and genre, it is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

This book tests the limits of the memoir, and shows that historical novels can be great fun, and don’t always have to respect their sources. 

By Stephen Marlowe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this novel, Christopher Columbus tells the story of his life and recalls the first fateful love of his youth, thoughts on his Portuguese wife, his Spanish mistress, and Queen Isabella, and his discovery of the New World

Marjorie Morningstar

By Herman Wouk,

Book cover of Marjorie Morningstar

Stephanie Newman Author Of Barbarians at the PTA

From the list on mom culture.

Who am I?

As a practicing clinical psychologist, teacher of psychotherapy theory and technique, and author (Barbarians at the PTA, Madmen on the Couch, Money Talks) who writes about the psychopathology of daily life for various online and print publications, I am a participant in/observer of mom culture. I love a juicy mother-child story. 

Stephanie's book list on mom culture

Why did Stephanie love this book?

One of my favorite novels is Herman Wouk’s Marjorie Morningstar, a coming of age story of Marjorie and Mrs Morgenster, a/k/a the original helicopter mom.

This Pulitzer Prize-winning author was male but managed to get into the head of both teenage girl and indomitable mother–and the results are funny and poignant. There’s all kinds of bonus detail about 1930s-1940s NYC: college, dating, and theater scenes.

As someone who is fascinated by mom culture, I like to recommend mother-daughter stories that illustrate how parenting styles and family relationships have changed over time. While it all started with Marmee, Louisa May Alcott (Jo’s) idealized supermom, I have a fondness for the ambivalently modern struggles between Mrs. Morgenstern and Marjorie, the female leads in Herman Wouk’s classic novel, Marjorie Morningstar. 

This is a coming of age story that has it all: beautiful and ambitious heroine, handsome love interest, colorful best friend, and the…

By Herman Wouk,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"I read it and I thought, 'Oh, God, this is me.'" - Scarlet Johansson

Now hailed as a "proto-feminist classic" (Vulture), Pulitzer Prize winner Herman Wouk's powerful coming-of-age novel about an ambitious young woman pursuing her artistic dreams in New York City has been a perennial favourite since it was first a bestseller in the 1950s.

Sixteen-year-old Marjorie Morgenstern lives a quiet life in New York City. Her mother hopes for a glittering marriage to a good man, but Marjorie has other ideas.

When she falls desperately in love with Noel Airman, a musician as reckless as he is talented,…

Book cover of Etchings of a Whaling Cruise

Eric Jay Dolin Author Of Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America

From the list on whaling history.

Who am I?

I am the author of Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America. This book was sparked by a painting I own of a whaling scene. Gazing at that painting, I often wondered what it was like to go whaling. Having Moby-Dick in school, I already knew a fair amount about whaling. But the painting continued to stir my curiosity, and soon I discovered that there were libraries devoted to whaling, providing almost unlimited material for a historical narrative. This book, then, is my attempt to weave that material into a maritime tapestry that attempts to do justice to America’s rich whaling heritage.

Eric's book list on whaling history

Why did Eric love this book?

J. Ross Browne experienced first-hand whaling in the early-to-mid 1800s, serving as a crewman on a Yankee whaler. His vivid account of life on board, and the gruesome business of whaling, is beautifully written, enlightening, and dramatic. In his review of the book, Melville said, “It is a book of unvarnished facts … [which] unquestionably presents a faithful picture of the life led by the twenty thousand seamen employed in the seven hundred vessels which now pursue their game under the American flag.” So impressed was Melville that he used Browne’s book as one of his primary sources while writing Moby-Dick.

By J. Ross Browne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Etchings of a Whaling Cruise as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and…