I need something to read.
September 30, 2011 5:46 PM   Subscribe

My favorite book is James A. Michener's The Source. What else might I like? I detest romance and I don't like "spy" novels. I don't like Ken Follet. I did like The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Googling and checking Amazon for Historical Fiction didn't yield anything interesting. Help me out here, guys, I trust your judgement.
posted by puddinghead to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
A friend with good taste has raved about Wolf Hall.

as for a long running historical novel, there is the novel about Sarum.
posted by jb at 6:04 PM on September 30, 2011


Should have added that I don't like Rutherford. Thank you for the suggestion, though.
posted by puddinghead at 6:11 PM on September 30, 2011


I'll suggest the obvious...(because, sometimes it's the right answer) you've read the rest of Michener's historical novels, of course?
posted by HuronBob at 6:16 PM on September 30, 2011


Yeah I was going to say Chesapeake by Michener is really good. I'd also suggest Space and Hawaii.

For other authors Mason & Dixon is supposed to be terrific, though postmodern, if that's not your thing.
posted by jessamyn at 6:40 PM on September 30, 2011


Hmmm. Those are two very different novels there, but it sounds like you're interested in epic without it being Ken Follet.

As HuronBob says, presumably the rest of Michener.

For sweep, some old-time Gore Vidal, especially Lincoln and Burr.

Also epic: Madison Smartt Bell's Toussaint L'Ouverture trilogy (All Souls' Rising, Master of the Crossroads, The Stone that the Builder Refused).

Frans Bengtsson's The Long Ships (Vikings, doing their thing; surprisingly funny).

Seconding Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall (from the POV of Thomas Cromwell; there's apparently a sequel in the works) and A Place of Greater Safety (French Revolution).

Russell Banks' Cloudsplitter (John Brown).

George P. Garrett's Elizabethan/Jacobean trilogy (Death of the Fox, The Succession, Entered from the Sun).

Wayne Johnston's The Colony of Unrequited Dreams (growth of Newfoundland)

Joseph O'Connor's Star of the Sea (Irish coming to America in the 19th c.) and Redemption Falls (the Irish in America during the Civil War).

Going a bit earlier, Henry Handel Richardson's The Fortunes of Richard Mahony (a man making his way in 19th c. Australia)

Paul Scott's Raj Quartet (The Jewel in the Crown, The Day of the Scorpion, The Towers of Silence, The Division of the Spoils).

Michael Shaara's Civil War novel The Killer Angels.

Mary Lee Settle's The Beulah Quintet, about the rise of the American South, is really amazing (Prisons, O Beulah Land, Know Nothing, The Scapegoat, The Killing Ground).
posted by thomas j wise at 6:42 PM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


How about some of Beverly Swerling books? She writes historical novels about New York City.
posted by SillyShepherd at 7:28 PM on September 30, 2011


Maybe slightly off-the-wall, but perhaps The Eight by Katherine Neville? I read both around the same time got a similar thrill from them.
posted by wiskunde at 8:19 PM on September 30, 2011


I've read all of Michener multiple times, and I appreciate all the suggestions. Keep 'em coming!
posted by puddinghead at 8:29 PM on September 30, 2011


Lempriere's Dictionary by Lawrence Norfolk is one of my favorite books.

Also a good gateway to his other books.
posted by Dagobert at 3:37 AM on October 1, 2011


I cannot say enough about Hilary Mantel.
Also seconding The Killer Angels.
Came in to suggest:
The Volcano Lover by Susan Sontag
Three fine novels by Beryl Bainbridge: Master Georgie, The Birthday Boys and Every Man for Himself
And three by Timothy Findley: The Wars, Famous Last Words and, my favorite, Pilgrim.
posted by Paris Elk at 3:48 AM on October 1, 2011


(Sorry, don't have patience to link, I like the 2 books you liked, literally just perusing my bookshelves as I type ...)

Ragtime, The Book of Daniel, World's Fair by EL Doctorow
Exodus and Trinity by Leon Uris
anything by Graham Greene (yes, spies, but the way he writes about a specific place at a critical moment in time is so subtle and elegant and brutal, it's astonishing)
Mating by Norman Rush
A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul (caveat emptor, he's a lot of "-ists" rolled into one)
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
a few of Herman Wouk's
The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron
Martin Dressler
The Known World by Edward Jones
underappreciated Shirley Hazzard, particularly The Great Fire
Angel of Repose by Wallace Stegner
posted by thinkpiece at 7:46 AM on October 1, 2011


James Clavell?
posted by exceptinsects at 8:41 AM on October 1, 2011


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