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Reader name: Larry
Hometown: Acton, MA
Favorite genres: historical fiction, history
Favorite books: Caleb’s Crossing (Geraldine Brooks); Sarah’s Key (Tatiana de Rosnay); Those Who Save Us (Jenna Blum); Truman (David McCullough); Mayflower (Nathaniel Philbrick)

Ah, historical fiction. There are so many wonderful choices! Chief among any list of recommendations should be the four historical novels written by Hilary Mantel—with a particular emphasis on Wolf Hall, a portrait of Thomas Cromwell. Both this novel and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, won the Booker Prize. Read these books and be fully immersed in Henry VIII’s court.

Another good bet is The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer, a novel set in France and Hungary during the 1930s and ’40s. Though a 600-plus-page story of the Holocaust may sound like difficult reading, Orringer’s old-fashioned epic is beautifully written and a powerful tale. We also loved The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean, a story of trauma, love and hope set during the 1941 siege of Leningrad. In the story, a museum docent takes refuge in the Hermitage and creates a “memory palace” in her mind.

Finally, readers interested in American history should not miss two recent books about our third president. Master of the Mountain by Henry Wiencek confronts Jefferson’s relationship with slavery and Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power is an elegant biography by Jon Meacham. BookPage reviewer Roger Bishop wrote that it is “surely one of the best single volumes about him written in our time.”

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