So I thought it was about time I did something that I haven’t done (successfully) in forever, and start a blog post series. Hooray! I’ve decided to highlight some of my favourite genres with a few ‘5 Reasons to Read [insert genre]’ posts, starting out with historical fiction.
So here are 5 Reasons To Read Historical Fiction:
- You learn stuff!
Historical fiction is (shockingly) all about historical events, which means you can learn a lot through it. For example, whilst my school covered Tudor history pretty well, we learnt almost nothing about the War of the Roses, which in many ways is actually a far more interesting period of time (there was certainly no lack of things happening, anyway!). Therefore pretty much everything I know about the War of the Roses I learnt through reading fiction, and whilst historical fiction isn’t always 100% accurate (it is called ‘fiction’ after all), generally the basic framework of events is correct. Plus I don’t know about other historical fiction fans, but if I read a really good book about a particular time or person, then I’ll often research them a bit afterwards and try and find out more.
- It has characters that actually existed!
In many ways I think that the characters in historical fiction are actually more engaging and interesting because they are people who actually existed. Whilst in other genres where the author has completely made up the story you can often find yourself questioning whether or not the character would have actually done what they did in a given situation, in historical fiction that isn’t even a question. The character did do what they did, and so it’s simply up to the author to try and answer the question of ‘why?’, in an interesting way.
- There’s lots of action (battles etc.)!
Whilst a large part of historical fiction is often the navigating of court life and getting married, there’s also no shortage of action, as history often tends to be quite a bloody affair. As someone who’s a huge fan of fantasy series like A Song of Ice and Fire it should come as no surprise that I like reading about battles, and as the battles in historical fiction are factual events, I think it’s all the more fascinating!
- There’s lots of romance!
Whilst I’m not really a fan of romance as a genre, I do like romantic sub-plots, and historical fiction is chock full of them. Between all the unhappy marriages and court-plotting, there are some generally heart-warming tales of love underneath, and I really like the thought that in many cases these stories are actually true (although obviously embellished).
- It’s interesting to see how different authors have interpreted the same event.
Whilst it would be easy to assume that historical fiction is boring because ‘you already know how it ends’, I don’t personally find that to be the case, as each author approaches events and characters differently. For example, I’ve read many books about Anne Boleyn, and in some she is a cunning, devious character, whilst in other she is an innocent woman who is simply victim to the whims of a tyrant king.
Recommended Reads: The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory, Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel, the War of the Roses series by Conn Iggulden and The Forbidden Queen by Anne O’Brien.
So do you like reading historical fiction? What do you like about it?