Just a personal list of a few favorites I’ve read over the years. All links go to Amazon for the sake of ease, but I do highly encourage you to buy from your local indie bookstore, if possible.
In no particular order:
1. The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum
I love Deborah Blum; she has a great narrative style that really brings history to life. This particular book is about New York in the 1920s and the men who pioneered modern forensic medicine.
2. The Scent of the Missing by Susanna Charelston
I love Charelston’s books because she writes wonderful books about dogs and their relationships with people–and they don’t die at the end. In this book, we follow her and her golden retriever, Puzzle, as they train for search and rescue. In her follow up book, The Possibility Dogs (another favorite), Charleston, suffering from terminal kidney disease, is forced to step away from search and rescue and dedicates her time to training stray dogs that would otherwise be homeless or euthanized as service animals.
3. A Brief History of Life in Victorian Britian by Michael Patterson
This book has been a huge help in my writing, and I really need to get myself a physical copy ASAP. It covers everything from wages to transportation to household help and politics.
4. Capital Dames by Coki Roberts
I am a sucker for anything about women in history, especially during the Civil War. This was another book that was a ton of help in my writing, as it’s not only a biography, but gives a feel for the atmosphere and life at the time.
5. In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park
As things with North Korea began ramping up last year, I realized I knew pretty much nothing about it, and set out to find more. This was the first book on my list, and wow. It was absolutely incredible and moving. I admire Ms. Park so much after reading her story, and highly recommend it to anyone.
6. Historic Hotels of Columbus, Ohio by Tom Betti
I originally grabbed this as a reference book for my Civil War era stories, but this book has so much more information. Obviously, it’s more detailed as it moves forward in time, transitioning from Ohio’s early days to the mid 1900s. There’s so much information I found useful from pricing and wages to life in the city during that time and the political atmosphere. It makes me wish I could have seen the downtown area before it was all office buildings.
7. America’s Hidden History by Kenneth C. Davis
These are the things we didn’t talk about in history class. It’s a relatively short book, and I recommend it for anyone interested in American history, particularly the time before America was America.
8. Necropolis: London and its Dead by Catherine Arnold
From plague pits to Victorian mourning practices, this book covers everything from the Romans onward. This is another one that was super helpful in my writing, as it shows a lot of the differences between the various classes, and what one could expect, especially during a major tragedy.
9. Conquering Gotham: A Guilded Age Epic: The Construction of Penn Station and its Tunnels by Jill Jonnes
I have a thing for train books, or any books dealing with mass transit and city planning. Probably because my own hometown seems to be lacking in that department. This was one of the first ones I grabbed, and it was fascinating.
10. Flesh and Blood So Cheap by Albert Marrin
This short book chronicles the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire. So many present day regulations can be traced back to this fire, and the book is heart wrenching and haunting.
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