This past week, I received a textbook in the mail, and I’m expecting two more this weekend–undeniable proof that I’ll be starting graduate school in less than a month.
A lot of this past few months has consisted of me thinking, What are you getting yourself into?! When I graduated college two years ago, I promised myself that I would never go back to school again. That shows what I know.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m relieved to have finally made up my mind about what to do with the rest of my life. I’m just not so pleased that the chosen path will involve much studying and paper-writing. I can already envision myself one month from now–hunched over the kitchen table, rings under my eyes, textbook mountains towering above me.
Textbook. Just the word makes me want to fall asleep. I mean, think about it: TEXT and BOOK. They couldn’t think of a more creative name? Probably because textbooks have a very limited amount of creativity in them. Confession–I rarely read textbooks in college, but part of this was because I was an English major. You know–short stories, novels, and all that. The only textbook I consistently read was for macroeconomics, and this was because I was absolutely desperate.
But back to the first sentence. I’ll be receiving a total of THREE textbooks this week. By golly!
The silver lining getting me through this mass influx of textbooks is the long foreseen arrival of one newly-released, historical fiction novel.
I don’t know about everyone else, but fiction has taught me more that any textbook I’ve tried to read. Maybe because it only takes one reading of a good novel for the text to sink in; whereas, a textbook takes multiple readings. Yes, textbooks are important for some things. Many good novelists have to use them to make sure they get their facts right. And how else would scientists learn about mitosis and whatever else is crammed inside their heads? No, I’m not saying that textbooks are completely useless. It’s just that fiction sparks my interest and holds it. Especially when history is involved.
With that said, I would like to leave you with three historical fiction books/series that I hope will spark your interest in historical events, and maybe even inspire you to pick up a related textbook.
1. Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers
This wonderful trilogy begins during the fall of Jerusalem around 60 A.D. The story is told from the perspective of three main characters: Hadassah, a young Christian girl from Israel; Marcus, a handsome Roman aristocrat; and Atretes, a barbarian warrior from Germania.
I first read this trilogy in eighth grade, but it is definitely meant for older audiences. It takes place in ancient Rome, after all. And there were some pretty horrific things going on in ancient Rome.
If you want to be lost in a book…to laugh, cry, scream, etc…and to become so attached to the characters that you believe they must have existed, read this. Though the first few chapters are difficult to get through, just push through. You won’t regret it.
Francine Rivers is a fantastic writer. Any book you choose of hers will be wonderful. Here are a few more of her historical novels: The Last Sin Eater (Appalachian mountains, 1850s); Her Mother’s Hope and Her Daughter’s Dream (Switzerland, France, England, Canada, California, early 1900s-2010); and Redeeming Love (California, 1850s).
2. How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
I read this book in eighth grade or early in high school. Though the events and characters of the novel are now foggy in my mind, I will never forget the emotional pull this book had on me. Just ask my sister, who was sitting across the room from me as I was bawling my eyes out.
This book takes place in a Welsh mining community during the mid-1800s. It’s told from the eyes of Huw, the youngest child in the Morgan family. If you’ve seen the old movie, don’t trust it. It’s all wrong. For one thing, Huw ages several years during the book, where he remained the same age throughout the movie. In the book, you get to grow up with all of the members of the Morgan family and to experience all of the challenges they go through.
This book is definitely on my re-read list and has been for awhile. If only there weren’t so many other books to read! But seriously, this book will always be toward the top of my favorites list. I can’t wait to read it again, so I can re-experience all of its awesomeness!
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I just finished this book a month and a half ago, and I wish I had read it a lot sooner. It takes place in a poor German neighborhood during World War II. The main character is a young teen named Leisel who is being adopted by a rough-but-loveable couple at the beginning of the novel.
When I first picked up this book, I thought, Oh, it’s young adult literature, which means it will be a breeze to read. Nope. This book is a slow read, but it was definitely worth the effort. It took me back to the daily life of WWII Germany, which I had never really thought much about, and it did so with such beautiful language. Someone on goodreads described the language something like this: If you like to eat words like they’re ice cream, read this book.
Quite unintentionally, I finished the book one week before the movie came out. I loved the movie a lot! The makers did such a good job with giving the movie the same feeling as the book. If you like the movie, read the book. It has so much more to think about!