5 Reasons To Read Historical Fiction

10/07/2016 Discussions, Lists, Reading 20

5 Reasons To Read Historical Fiction

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 others she is an innocent woman who is simply victim to the whims of a tyrant king.

5 Reasons To Read Historical Fiction

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?

20 Responses to “5 Reasons To Read Historical Fiction”

  1. Melissa @ Quill Pen Writer

    Yay! A blog series! XD I love historical fiction if it has a unique take on an event I know about. But if I have no clue what’s happening I don’t tend to enjoy it. My favourite part of historical fiction has to be the characters, because it allows me to see their thought process (or the author’s interpretation anyway) and really lets you see wars through a single pair eyes instead of a dry textbook summary. Great post! 😀

    • Laura

      I really like when historical fiction has a unique view too. As much as I love it, a lot of it does adopt the same approach and it can get kind of old.
      It’s definitely a way better (and more fun!) way to learn about history though, and that’s what I love so much about it! 🙂

  2. Nordie @writing about books

    Sad to say, I learnt little in history class in school. I e learnt more in reading historical novels and watching Horrible Histories….why couldn’t history be taught like HH when I was a kid?

  3. Elizabeth S Weimann

    I have been hooked on Historical fiction since I was about 12. Anne of a Thousand Days was probably what got me started. I am currently reading The Winter Palace about Katherine the Great. Your reasoning is spot on. Another reading thread you might want to follow is to read the literature of certain periods. This also enriches your knowledge of history and differnet cultures.

    • Laura

      I’ve never read anything about Katherine the Great, so I’ll have to add The Winter Queen to my TBR (then I can learn about her!).
      You definitely make a really good point as well about reading the literature of the time. That’s probably the best way to get truly immersed in different historical periods 🙂

      • Pam White

        I agree though sometimes it can be very hard to understand because the centuries & even decades make a big difference in our perspectives. At least I’ve found that sometimes. Still, I got a thrill from reading American Civil War memoirs because the writers had such such a sense of urgency about the conflicts & a present-day perspective on all of it.

    • Laura

      I just bought the first Outlander book because I had heard it was really good too! I hope you get to check it out soon (and that we both enjoy it) 🙂

      • Pam White

        I agree though sometimes it can be very hard to understand because the centuries & even decades make a big difference in our perspectives. At least I’ve found that sometimes. Still, I got a thrill from reading American Civil War memoirs because the writers had such such a sense of urgency about the conflicts & a present-day perspective on all of it.

  4. Lucy Furneaux

    Yes! I love historical fiction – I always forget how much until I read some more. It’s a great way of getting people, especially children, into getting inside history. Now I want to go and read some; in my next year at uni I’m studying a Renaissance literature module, so perhaps Wolf Hall is a good idea alongside my set texts…
    Lx | http://www.lucyeyf.co.uk

    • Laura

      It really is such a good way of getting people into history.
      And I would definitely recommend reading Wolf Hall. It’s a truly amazing book! 🙂

  5. Aralyn @ Paper Addictions & Magic

    I actually have read, maybe, 3 historical fiction books (don’t ask me to name them!). I don’t know why… I guess I worry they will just as boring as history books, with a little added flair. But this post tells me otherwise! I really should try some and I’m super glad for the recommendations at the end. I’ll have somewhere to start! (^_^)

    • Laura

      I hope you enjoy my recommendations! I get why people think historical fiction will be boring, but there are some great novels in the genre, and all the ones I mentioned are really great (in my opinion anyway!) 🙂

  6. Lola

    I love the idea for this blog post series and it’s a fun way to talk about genres. Which is always a topic I enjoy talking about. I personally haven’t read a lot of historical fiction, I am only recently branching out in historical romance and historical fiction, but only have read a few books in the genre.
    For some reason the fact that the characters have actually existed seems weird to me, but I haven’t really read a lot of books with characters like that, so maybe that opinion is more due to ignorance. I do like the sound of action and romance. I love romance both as main and as a subplot. I did always enjoy history in school, so I hope I will enjoy historical fiction as well, but it’s hard to start reading a new genre Thanks for the recommendation and for the fun post!

    • Laura

      I love talking about genres too! 🙂
      I would definitely recommend reading historical fiction! In a way it is kind of weird thinking about how the characters really existed, but if I get super into a book I kind of forget for a minute that they were real people, and then when I remember I think that it’s actually pretty cool! I like to look them up afterwards to see how close to the facts the book was, and you learn something new that way too, which is always good.

  7. Vanessa

    I’ve always loved reading historical fiction, partly because I’m a huge history nerd. I’ve got the first book in the War of the Roses series on my iPad but I haven’t dug in yet. I will soon, though!

    • Laura

      I really hope you enjoy the War of The Roses series! It’s one of my favourites (I’m a total history nerd too!) 🙂

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