The Ten Best Historical Books of All Time

Some of my favorite books fall under the historical fiction genre. Something about those novels makes it hard to put them down. There are countless historical novels and we will be listing the ten best historical fiction books of all time.

This list is going to condense a genre that is filled with dozens of amazing books. Many great books won’t be making the list because there are only ten spots. You can check out our full list of the best historical fiction books here. Let’s see which ten books made the cut!

The Ten Best Historical Fiction Books of All Time

The Ten Best Historical Books of All Time

  1. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
  2. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
  3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  4. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  5. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  6. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  7. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  8. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  9. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  10. Aztec by Gary Jennings

Lots of Amazing Books

One of the best books that I have ever read is Pachinko by Min Jin Lee and it is a book I recommend everyone to read. Another books that is a favorite of mine is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It always breaks my hurt but it is a book that I will be reading many times down the line.

Two more books that I really enjoyed were The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. These books are some of the best writing I have come across and they incorporate historical knowledge to tell two amazing stories. I was not kidding when I said that some of my favorite books fall under this genre.

Other books that need mentioning are Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, and Aztec by Gary Jennings. While I haven’t read Aztec, our readers voiced their opinion in having it on the list. There are many books out there and it is easy to never come across an amazing book that is beloved by many.


That concludes our ten best historical fiction books of all time list. There are many books on this list that I love and I can’t wait to see what new books are added! What books should have made the top ten list? Let us know in the comments below. Until next time, happy reading!

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65 thoughts on “The Ten Best Historical Books of All Time

  1. Brett Harper says:

    The Red Heart by James Alexander Thom should have made the list of 10 best historical fiction books.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Not exactly sure what criteria places a book in historical fiction genre but i would assume it’s a factual historical event or setting with some or mostly fictional characters, settings and stories within.
        The Bible is mostly fiction with a bunch of made up nonsense debunked by scientists and historians, and it contains a lot of fictional, even fantastical characters, creatures and events. Surprised The Bible wasn’t number 1. It literally fits the description.

      2. Brian Stratton says:

        November 1963 – Stephen King. Captured in great detail what it was like living in Dallas in that time period, right down to the main character having the wrong haircut after going through the time travel hole

      3. Robert Bible says:

        About a south that never was and that some want to recreate.

    1. Jason Brzezinski says:

      James Michener could have a few on this list. Hawaii if I choose one.

      1. Marie says:

        So right! It feels as if the reader is flying atop the waves.

      2. alnessa2 says:

        No kidding! Hawaii and The Source are his masterpieces I think ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

      3. John says:

        “The ten best historical books OF ALL TIME”? All of the books listed – with the exception of War and Peace – were written in the last 25 years! The simple fact that there is not a single one of Gore Vidal’s historical novels on this list makes it laughable.

      4. alnessa2 says:

        Robert Bible: Have you actually read GWTW? Do you know how it came to be written? There’s a reason why it’s called “historical fiction.” That does not invalidate the writing or the story.

    2. Anonymous says:

      Diana Knightly’s Kaitlyn and the Highlander should be among the top historical fiction books. I thought at first it would be a cheap copy of Outlander but was oh so wrong. The story has more pep and versatility even than Outlander. Both are excellent.

    3. Nancy K Irwin says:

      You must include the series of books by Dorothy Dunnett, including the Lymond Chronicles.

  2. Johann Jells says:

    If Patrick OBrian isn’t on your list, you don’t know what you’re talking about

      1. El says:

        Right?! Outlander garbage makes the list but not the GOAT Wolf Hall? or the other 2 in the trilogy. . . Rubbish list.

      2. Anonymous says:

        The first book that came to mind was Wolf Hall

  3. Ana says:

    I would definitely include Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Anything by James Michener beats most if those. Wolf Hall big miss.

    1. alnessa2 says:

      Soooo true! Both The Source (his masterwork IMHO) and Hawaii are magnificent, and many others as well.

  5. Warren Miller says:

    Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” belongs on that list.

  6. Anonymous says:

    How did you miss Herman Wouk’s Winds of War or War and Remembrance?

  7. Roxy says:

    Oops. Man’s Search for meaning isn’t historical fiction—just one of the top 10 books of all time.

  8. Christine says:

    Sharon K Penman books, Phillipa Gregory books and The Circle of Ceridwen series by Octavia Randolph should be on your list too.

    1. textilia1 says:

      Phillipa Gregory plays fast and loose with the true facts which gives the uneducated reader a completely erroneous view of what actually happened, to whom, and when.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The best historical novel is The Last Hero by Peter Forbath.

  10. Brooke Neves Severe says:

    The nightingale is considered good writing? Maybe an easy and boring read, but in no way is it good writing.

  11. Hedy says:

    Best Ten historical books of all times is “SALT” by Mark Krlansky It is a fascinating history of an indispensable ingredient

    1. Bill Powers says:

      The Book “Hamilton” written by Ron Chernow is a Biography, not to be confused with the Musical Screenplay which would not fit into this category.

  12. Dairy Maid says:

    And let’s not forget Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles. Beats most of the books on this list hands down.

    1. MaryAnne Moore says:

      Dorothy Dunnett books make these look like comic books.

  13. Jennifer Weston says:

    I would have included ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’.

  14. Jason Brzezinski says:

    James Michener could have a few on this list. Hawaii if I choose one.

  15. alnessa2 says:

    No kidding! That one and The Source, which I think was his masterpiece/work. Michener wrote brilliantly, covering so many of the world’s historic eras.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Not at all sure your picks are really Historical Fiction! In fact I bet most of them are not!

  17. Bill Powers says:

    Way too broad a topic, historical fiction, from a single readers subjective viewpoint, this should be called “A good historical fiction reading list” Or “10 great historical fiction reads” with a footnote that it covers a fantastic mix of old and contemporary authors on broad historical events covering different timelines and cultures.

  18. Grace Limoncelli says:

    “The Pope’s Ceiling” well researched book about Michelangelo. Fascinating detail about that era.

  19. Daedalus Lex says:

    Great list! Always sooo many to choose from. I prefer Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon,” where she finds her own voice 100%, over her more famous “Beloved,” where I find she is struggling stylistically to get out from under Faulkner (although “Beloved” came later). Then again, “Song of Solomon” is not really historical fiction, although the contemporary hero searches history for his roots. Someone else mentioned Umberto Eco — I found his “Name of the Rose” excellent at creating that time and place in history, though his style can get drawn out at times. Sorry for such a long comment 🙂

    1. Ahaqir says:

      I enjoyed Song of Solomon and will definitely be revisiting it this year. It is an amazing book but I think because of the impact of Beloved, it is always going to be the book that gets mentioned first. I have Name of the Rose in the best historical fiction novels of all time. There wasn’t enough space to include it in this list.

  20. Neil D Myers says:

    Any list that doesn’t include the Aubrey/Maturin novels of Patrick O’Brien, really just doesn’t know historical fiction. They are almost universally acknowledged as the greatest historical novels ever written in the English language.

  21. Johnathan Steinbach says:

    The Alienist. Caleb Carr and anything by Anne Rice

  22. Anonymous says:

    The Conquerer by Georgetta Hyer
    Just a great book with a lot of historical accuracies. I have been reading it since I was young.


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