Best of the Year: Into the Past

January 2, 2018 | Book Buzz

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At the end of each year, Toronto Public Library staff members select their favourite reading experiences of the past 12 months. There are so many great responses that we end up with a series of blog posts. 

"The power of historical fiction for bad and for good can be immense in shaping consciousness of the past."
                                                                                  Antony Beevor

Historical fiction allows readers to travel in time to see ancient civilizations, visit historical figures or experience a different era through the eyes of a fictional character. Our favourite historical fiction books in 2017 take us into the distant past and also to more recent times. 

 

Before we sleep  

Before We Sleep by Jeffrey Lent

Jim recommends this "beautifully written story about a 1960s Vermont family and a 16-year-old girl who embarks on a search for her biological father." As Katey searches, her mother Ruth tells her own story involving two young soldiers traumatized by their World War II service. 

Regular Print
Large Print

     
The chillbury ladies choir  

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan

This World War II drama told in letters from various characters was a hit among a number of staff members including Laura and Jane who call the book "very moving". Jane recommends listening to the e-audiobook. 

Regular Print 
Audiobook
e-audiobook
ebook
Large Print
Talking Book: CD Format (restricted to Print Disabled patron)

     
Days without end  

Days without End by Sebastian Barry

Viveca describes it as "a gorgeously lyrical, yet brutal western set during the Civil War with characters so rich, you feel personally invested in their survival."

Regular Print
Audiobook
e-audiobook
ebook
Large Print
Talking Book: CD Format

     
Half drowned king  

The Half Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyka

The first book in a planned trilogy about King Harald of Norway is a gripping story of 9th century life. Recommended by Sephora who says that "anyone who enjoys reading about Viking culture should enjoy this (hopefully!)."

Regular Print
Audiobook
e-audiobook
ebook
Talking Book: CD Format

     
Impossible fortress  

The Invisible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

Revisit the recent past with this charming trip to the late 1980s as 14-year-old Billy works on becoming a computer game programmer, falls in love and embarks on a quest to acquire a copy of Playboy magazine. Staff member M says "don't be put off by the part about Playboy. It's a lovely book that will make you laugh, break your heart and remind you about the awesomeness of early computer games."

Regular Print 
Audiobook
e-audiobook
ebook
Large Print
Talking Book: CD Format

     
Last ballad  

The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

Based on the true and little known story of activist Ella May Wiggins who was a textile factory worker, union organizer and balladeer in 1920s North Carolina.

Regular Print
ebook
Large Print
Talking Book: CD Format

     
Neopolitan novels  

The Neopolitan Novels Series by Elena Ferrante

  1. My Brilliant Friend
  2. The Story of a New Name
  3. Those who Leave and Those who Stay
  4. The Story of the Lost Child

Despina highly recommends this entire series about a complicated relationship between two lifelong friends set in 1950s Naples, Italy. 

 

     
The untold  

The Untold by Courtney Collins

The life of Jessie Hickman, circus performer, horse thief and fugitive (among other things) is depicted in this novel that our staff member Donna calls "powerful".

Regular Print

 

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