book recommendations appreciated: historical fiction and non-fiction especially

Last night I started out looking up the demographics of Mauritius on Wikipedia, and ended up somewhere in the Tarim Basin in China. But en route, I found something about a book that made me look up more books by the same author, which made me think of something else entirely:

I attended fifteen schools by the time I got out of high school, and between that and following other interests in college, I’ve never actually taken a world history course.

I don’t really want to, at this point, though I might follow some via some of the open/free university systems available online now. But I love reading historical fiction and non-fiction if it’s interesting, and I have so little world history under my belt that I’d appreciate suggestions for almost anything.

What would you recommend I read, especially if it’s about eras/places that aren’t particularly well-served in American or other western world history programs, or which are just fascinating otherwise?

Last night, the relationships, both economically and in terms of interplay of ethnic/racial groups, religions (Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Nestorian/Eastern Christianity, etc.), and in terms of geographic migration and trade routes, between the Persian/Indian regions and China caught my interest. Otherwise, books like Caesar in Gaul have interested me, especially as the Romans learned about the geography of what is now Germany and into eastern Europe, and I’m interested in the relationships between Africa, India, and China in general.

Anything worldwide might interest me, though, if I haven’t learned about it yet.

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4 thoughts on “book recommendations appreciated: historical fiction and non-fiction especially

  1. Sword at Sunset by Mary Sutcliffe is her version of the Arthur legend. While this is a work of fiction, her understanding of the time, place, and peoples is thoroughly researched and so vivid it has stayed with me since I first read the book in 1970. and that was approximately 4,000 novels ago.

    I have a passion for juvenile fiction. ‘The Witch of Blackbird Pond’ is Newberry-winning YA fiction (Elizabeth Speare) set in 17th century New England. You’ve probably already read it.

    Margaret Atwood’s ‘Alias Grace’ is a meticulously rendered tale of a female asylum inmate/ prisoner on trial for murder in mid-19th century Toronto.

    I adore historical fiction and could go on all day, but I won’t. I’d love to see others people’s suggestions.

  2. Cath: I’ve gotten some good recommendations and am going a bit bananas making a list. In a day or two, I’ll make an edited version of the list (leaving out all the stuff I’ve been adding just because it looked intriguing though not strictly related) and will post about that. And maybe, just maybe, if I set aside time to read (instead of just screwing about online when Owen’s asleep), I’ll write some book reviews as well.

  3. Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth is a novel set in the age of building great cathedrals. Very well researched, you’ve probably read it.

    Anything by Leon Uris. His books are deeply researched and incredibly well written. I liked The Haj and Mila 18, but he’s best known for Exodus (about the founding of Israel) and Trinity (about Ireland from the Great Famine on)

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