Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Cover of Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

This young adult novel, set during a yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia in 1793, seems especially timely today. Young Mattie Cook struggles to survive in the fever-stricken city after her mother gets sick. With the help of Eliza, a freed slave, Mattie learns to nurse the sick and help the children orphaned by the fever, and becomes a stronger person. The novel is filled with details of life during the epidemic, some of them quite similar to today's pandemic.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Cover of The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The Shadow of the Wind is a complex, multi-layered novel set in Barcelona in the 1940s and 1950s. A young boy, Daniel, the son of a bookseller, visits the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, an enormous labyrinthine building filled with books. His father tells him to choose one book and adopt it. Daniel becomes so fascinated by the book that he decides to read everything by the author, Julián Carax, only to find out that someone is systematically destroying every copy of Carax's books. Daniel...

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Cover of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

If your only experience with A Tale of Two Cities was of being forced to read it in high school, it's definitely worth re-reading. It's a wonderful novel set during the French Revolution (unusual for Dickens), with unforgettable characters such as the good-natured rogue Sydney Carton and the bloodthirsty, villainous Madame Defarge.

A Rose for Virtue by Norah Lofts

Cover of A Rose for Virtue by Norah Lofts

This historical novel tells the story of Napoleon's stepdaughter, Hortense de Beauharnais, her disastrous marriage to Napoleon's brother Louis, and her love for another man. It provides an unusual perspective on the major events of Napoleon's reign.

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