I’m just going to come out and say it — while I love history, I kind of hate history books. I can never finish them, though I try multiple times. Battle Cry of Freedom has been attempted at least three times, but for some reason I always fall asleep. This is unfortunate because it’s rather difficult to develop my history interest if I can’t bring myself to read books on history.
Every now and then, though, I discover a great history book that renews my interest. Way back in high school, it was Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. In college, it was Strangers from a Different Shore by Ronald Takaki. A year ago, it was Brad Gooch’s biography of Flannery O’Connor.
More recently, I finished The Warmth of Other Suns. It was amazing. I couldn’t put it down, and never once did I fall asleep. The author’s methodology is rooted in oral history, and the narrative she writes is so well developed that it doesn’t feel like I’m reading history. I would really love if more history books felt that way — like stories instead of facts, because that’s how I think of history.
Do you have recommendations for history books that don’t feel like history books?