It’s always a good idea to hear multiple experiences of the past and books are a great tool in that regard. Whether you’re a history buff, just enjoy historical fiction or fantasy, or you’re hoping to learn something new, here’s a list of books you should definitely check out this summer.
Books about History That Will Give You a Different Perspective
1. The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed
It’s Los Angeles in 1992 and Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior and they can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer. But everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a Black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the Black kids. With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?
2. When the World Was Ours by Liz Kessler
This book begins right before WWII and continues, following three friends with different perspectives throughout the Holocaust. Leo, Elsa, and Max spend a perfect day together, unaware that around them Europe is descending into a growing darkness and that they will soon be cruelly ripped apart from one another. With their lives taking them across Europe—to Germany, England, Prague, and Poland—will they ever find their way back to one another? Will they want to?
3. Daughters of Jubilation by Kara Lee Corthron
It’s the Jim Crow South, white supremacy reigns and tensions are high. But Evalene Deschamps has other things to worry about. She has two little sisters to look after, an overworked single mother, and a longtime crush who is finally making a move. On top of all that, Evvie’s magic abilities are growing stronger by the day. Her family calls it jubilation—a gift passed down from generations of black women since the time of slavery. As Evvie’s talents waken, demons from her past finally shake free and she must embrace her mighty lineage to summon the power that lies within her.
4. The Degenerates by J. Albert Mann
It’s 1928 and the Massachusetts School for the Feeble-Minded is not a happy place. The young women who are already there certainly don’t think so. Not Maxine, who is doing everything she can to protect her younger sister Rose in an institution where vicious attendants and bullying older girls treat them as the morons, imbeciles, and idiots the doctors have deemed them to be. Not Alice, either, who was left there when her brother couldn’t bring himself to support a sister with a club foot. And not London, who has just been dragged there from the best foster situation she’s ever had, thanks to one unexpected, life altering moment. Each girl is determined to change her fate, no matter what it takes.
5. Never Caught by Erica Armstrong Dunbar and Kathleen Van Cleve
Ona Judge grew up enslaved to George and Martha Washington. When she was told that she was going to be given as a wedding gift to Martha Washington’s granddaughter, Ona made the bold and brave decision to seek her freedom by fleeing to the north. Erica Armstrong Dunbar, along with Kathleen Van Cleve, shares an intimate glimpse into the life of a little-known, but powerful figure in history, and her brave journey as she fled the most powerful couple in the country.
6. The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
Esta is a talented thief, and with her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. All of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1901 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future. But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.
7. These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
And finally, a personal favorite of mine. It’s 1926 and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery. Juliette Cai, a former flapper, has returned to assume her role as the heir to the Scarlet Gang. Roma Montagov, the heir to the White Flowers, the Scarlet Gang’s only rival, is Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal. When gangsters on both sides begin to show signs of insanity right before taking their own lives, the people start to whisper of a contagion–Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together. If they can’t stop this mayhem, there will be no city left for either to rule.