Historical Fiction Picks

Historical fiction books bring history to life through stories based on events or cultural significance. These kinds of books allow people to experience what the time period was like while reading an interesting book at the same time. Here are some top picks from the genre of Historical Fiction.

Daughter of Fortune – Isabel Allende
A Chilean woman searches for her lover in the goldfields of 1840’s California. Arriving as a stowaway, Eliza finances her search with various jobs, including playing the piano in a brothel.

Shanghai Girls – Lisa See
Two sisters leave Shanghai to find new lives in 1930s Los Angeles in this fresh, fascinating adventure.

Song of Solomon – Toni Morrison
Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly.

The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
Arriving in New Zealand in 1866, Walter Moody lands in a gold-mining frontier town on the coast of New Zealand to make his fortune and forever leave behind his family’s shame. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men who have met in secret to investigate what links three crimes that occurred on a single day, events in which each man finds himself implicated in some way.

The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
A magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South.

War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
The monumental Russian classic reflects the life and times of Russian society during the Napoleonic War.


Afternoon Book Club – July

(July) The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell
Summary: Sam Hill always saw the world differently. Born with red pupils, his classmates often called him “Devil Boy” or Sam “Hell”. Sam’s mother called his ocular albinism “God’s will”. While her words didn’t comfort as much as she intended, Sam survived by his mother’s faith, his father’s wisdom, and his two other misfit friends. Forty years later, Sam, a small town eye doctor, is no longer convinced anything was by design. As he looks back on his life, Sam embarks on a journey half way around the world seeing what changed him, defined him, and made him so afraid of his surroundings.

Read-Alikes: If you liked this book, here are some others you might enjoy as well. The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni, The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain, Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger, and The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn.

Book Club: The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell is Carol’s afternoon book club selection for July. Book discussion will be held on Tuesday July 16th at 2:30pm. Copies of the book will be available at the Circulation Desk. Newcomers are always welcome!

Anti-Beach Reads

What is an anti-beach read? Summer is usually the time when most of us are looking for something quick and easy to read while we’re on vacation or at the beach. An anti-beach read is a book that is generally a book that is larger or a bit more of a challenge to finish. For a complete list of books that would fit this category, visit http://www.bookriot.com.

1Q84 – Haruki Murakami
An ode to George Orwell’s “1984” told in alternating male and female voices relates the stories of Aomame, an assassin for a secret organization who discovers that she has been transported to an alternate reality, and Tengo, a mathematics lecturer and novice writer.

A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and connected only by their friendship and ambition. Over the years, their relationships deepen and darken, yet their greatest challenge is their friend Jude. A talented litigator but a terribly broken man, his mind and body scarred from childhood and haunted by what he fears in a kind of trauma he’ll never recover from but one that will forever define his life.

Beloved – Toni Morrison
Sethe, an escaped slave living in post-Civil War Ohio with her daughter and mother-in-law, is persistently haunted by the ghost of her dead baby girl.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf – Marlon James
Tracker is known for his skills as a hunter. When he breaks his own rules, he finds himself part of a group searching for a boy. The group is a hodgepodge of unusual characters with secrets of their own. As Tracker follows the boy’s scent, he and the group encounter creatures intent on destroying them.

Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
Our heroine is swept off her feet in Monte Carlo by a dashing widower and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a maid, she can barely believe her luck. When they arrive at his massive country estate, does she realize how her fiance’s late wife will cast over their lives threatening to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky
The violent lives of three sons are exposed when their father is murdered and each one attempts to come to terms with his guilt.

The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
Theo Decker miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by a family friend and struggles to make sense of his new life.

Ulysses – James Joyce
Follow the episodes of Ulysses from the Odyssey of Homer in a reordered form. The central characters explore various sites and happenings around Dublin such as a newspaper office, a brothel, a funeral, and public houses.

July New Releases


  1. Whisper Network by Chandler Baker
  2. Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon
  3. The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory
  4. Raised in Captivity by Chuck Klosterman
  5. Costalegre by Courtney Maum
  6. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
  7. The Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
  8. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead


  1.  Beneath the Tamarind Tree by Isha Sesay
  2. The Code: Silicon Valley by Margaret O’Mara
  3. The Core 4: Embrace Your Body, Own Your Power by Stephanie Gaudreau
  4. Deer Resistant Design by Karen Chapman
  5. Eight Years to the Moon by Nancy Atkinson
  6. The Family Next Door by John Glatt
  7. How to Give Up Plastic by Will McCallum
  8. Nocturnal Brain by Guy Leschziner
  9. The Vagabonds: Henry Ford by Jeff Guinn

DVDs and Blue-ray

  1. The Best of Enemies
  2. Breakthrough: The Ideas that Changed the World
  3. Chasing the Moon
  4. Little
  5. Little Woods
  6. Long Goodbye
  7. Meeting Gorbachev
  8. The Public
  9. Shazam


  1. Amoeba Gig by Paul McCartney
  2. Fever Dream by Of Monsters and Men
  3. Music from Chasing Happiness by Jonas Brothers
  4. No. 6 Collaborations Project by Ed Sheeran
  5. Running on Empty by Jackson Browne


  1. The Poison Jungle by Tui Sutherland
  2. School-tripped by Jennifer L. Holm
  3. Serafina and the Seven Stars by Robert Beatty
  4. Titans by Kate O’Hearn
  5. The Miraculous by Jess Redman
  6. Making FriendsBack to the Drawing Board by Kristen Gudsnuk


  1. The Arrival of Someday by Jen Malone
  2. Maybe This Time by Kasie West
  3. Symptoms of a Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra

What We Were Reading #ThrowBackThursday

“What We Were Reading” is a look back into the Lake Bluff Library’s history during the 1930’s. Every week the Library published a list of books and events going on in the “Lake Forester” newspaper, similar to how we post here on our blog. This is a fun retrospective as we celebrate our centennial anniversary.


06-27-1930 The library is one of the coolest places n town these warm days. Com and spend the afternoon with us, and enjoy the hours of reading.


This week we have placed on the shelves, for grownups, the following: Candle in the Wilderness by Irving Bacheller; Shepherd of Guadaloupe by Zane Grey; Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett; Can’t Get a Red Bird by Dorothy Scarborough; Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton.



–and for the children:
Brownies Around the World by Palmer Cox
Apple Pie Hill by Helen Forbes
The Lance of Kanana by Harry W. French
Land of Promise by Margaret Lynn
The Cinder Pond by Carroll Watson Rankin
Rabbit Lantern by Dorothy Rowe
Holland Stories by Mary E. Smith
Book of Famous Horses by Caroline Ticknor
The Thackeray Alphabet

–Flora G. Coen

Local Favorites: June 24th

Here are some books that are current best-sellers this week at the Lake Forest Book Store. Many of these are also available at our library. If you’d like to place a hold, please seek one of our friendly, helpful staff members.

Ask Again, Yes – Mary Beth Keane
A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the friendship between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.

Park Avenue Summer – Renee Rosen
New York City is filled with opportunities for single girls like Alice Weiss, who leaves her small Midwestern town to chase her big-city dreams and unexpectedly lands the job of a lifetime working for the first female editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, Helen Gurley Brown.

Sea Stories – William H. McRaven
An unforgettable look back on one man’s incredible life, from childhood days sneaking into high-security military sites to a day job of hunting terrorists and rescuing hostages.

Summer of ’69 – Elin Hilderbrand
Welcome to the most tumultuous summer of the twentieth century. It’s 1969, and for the Levin family. Every year the children have looked forward to spending the summer at their grandmother’s historic home in downtown Nantucket. But like so much else in America, nothing is the same.

The Great Believers – Rebecca Makkai
In 1985, Yale Tishman is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself.

The Scholar – Dervla McTiernan
When Dr. Emma Sweeney stumbles across the victim of a hit-and-run outside Galway University early one morning, she calls her boyfriend, Detective Cormac Reilly, bringing him first to the scene of a murder that would otherwise never have been assigned to him. The dead girl is carrying an ID that will put this crime at the center of a scandal–her card identifies her as Carline Darcy, heir apparent to Darcy Therapeutics, Ireland’s most successful pharmaceutical company.

Warlight – Michael Ondaatje
In 1945, fourteen-year-old Nathaniel and his older sister Rachel stay behind in London when their parents move to Singapore, leaving them in the care of a figure they suspect might be a criminal.

Washington Black – Esi Edugyan
Washington Black is an eleven-year-old field slave who knows no other life than the Barbados sugar plantation where he was born. When his master’s eccentric brother chooses him to be his manservant, Wash is terrified of the cruelties he is certain await him.

Where the Angels Lived – Margaret McMullan
The tale of a somewhat parallel universe that exists even in the 21st century and ironically the same sort of isolation and rejection Margaret’s Jewish Hungarian family experienced in 1944 before they were forced into concentration camps. Straddling memoir and reportage, past and present, this story reminds us all that we can escape a country, but we can never escape history.

Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She’s barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark. But Kya is not what they say.

Local Favorites: June 19th

The following titles are current best-sellers this week at the Lake Forest Book Store and can be found on our library shelves. Don’t see what you’re looking for? See one of our friendly and helpful staff members and we can put a hold on an item or purchase it for the collection.

Love & Lemons Everyday – Jeanine Donofrio
Known for her insanely flavorful vegetable recipes and stunning photography, Jeanine Donofrio celebrates plants at the center of the plate with more than 100 new vegetarian recipes in Love & Lemons Every Day. In this book, Jeanine shows you how to make any meal, from breakfast to dessert, where produce is the star.

Make Your Bed – William McRaven
On May 17, 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven addressed the graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin on their Commencement day. Taking inspiration from the university’s slogan, “What starts here changes the world,” he shared the ten principles he learned during Navy Seal training that helped him overcome challenges not only in his training and long Naval career, but also throughout his life.

Sea Stories – William McRaven
Admiral McRaven has been involved in some of the most famous missions in recent history, including Saddam Hussein’s capture and the raid to kill Osama bin Laden. Sea Stories began in 1960 in France where officers gathered for drinks and stories of their war adventures – the place where a young McRaven learned the value of a good story.

Songs of America – Jon Meacham & Tim McGraw
A celebration of American history through the music that helped to shape a nation, by Pulitzer Prize winner Jon Meacham and music superstar Tim McGraw.

Summer of ’69 – Elin Hilderbrand
Welcome to the most tumultuous summer of the twentieth century. It’s 1969 and times they are-a-changing for the Levin family. Every year, the children look forward to spending the summer with their grandmother in Nantucket. But like so much else, nothing is the same.

The Great Believers – Rebecca Makkai
In 1985, Yale Tishman is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself.

The Last Pirate of New York – Rich Cohen
Albert Hicks had long been known around Five Points, the most dangerous neighborhood in Manhattan. For years, he worked odd jobs, slept in flophouses, and drank in the bars amongst the rats and filth. His criminal career peaked in 1860 when he was hired to help on an oyster boat. His plan was to rob the ship, flee, and disappear while eventually finding his way back to his Irish immigrant wife and their son. But the plan went awry and the voyage led to his last desperate flight.

The Pioneers – David McCullough
McCullough rediscovers the settling of the Northwest Territory by dauntless pioneers who overcame incredible hardships to build a community based on ideals that would come to define the country.

The Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides
Criminal psychotherapist Theo Faber becomes dangerously obsessed with uncovering the truth about what prompted his client, an artist who refuses to speak, to violently murder her husband in a way that triggers mass public speculation.

Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
Kya Clark is the “Marsh Girl” of Barkley Cove on the North Carolina coast. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist, she took life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. Drawn to two young men from town who were intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opened herself to a new and startling world– until the unthinkable happens. When Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya.