Reading a book before bed has shown to improve sleep quality, according to this randomized trial study. Not only does it tire out our eyes without the stimulation of blue light, it’s a nice additional tool in your sleep hygiene quiver. We love stories at bedtime (obviously) and these 5 historical fiction novels are some of our favourites.
5 Historical Fiction Novels That'll Help You Sleep
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
A 2017 finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, Pachinko is an epic historical fiction novel following a Korean family that immigrates to Japan. Starting in 1883 and running deep into the 20th century, it reveals hidden histories while being expertly written and engaging. (Also, it has been turned into an Apple+ series if that's your thing).
The Radiant City by Lauren B. Davis
This book is both beautiful and brutal. Beautiful how Davis wove each of the senses into her writing. Settings were described with scent, taste, sounds, visceral and physical descriptions along with visual storytelling. Brutal in the recoutment of how people endured through trauma and violence. The year is ambiguous in this book, however, it was written in 2005 and since that is nearly 20 years ago, we’re going to call it history. It’s the story of a journalist who travelled and reported in war torn countries before the age of social media and the internet. He lands in Paris and befriends a Lebanese family, also recovering from being displaced by war and another man he knew and survived with in the field. She bases the main character after the true story of a journalist who unsuccessfully intervened to save the lives of a father and son trapped in crossfire in Israel and Palestine.
Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
I read this years ago and I still feel its visceral impact. Of all the books and movies set in this war-torn period, the imagery I conjured up while reading this one sticks with me. When I finished it, I had to look up the historical figures this book was inspired by: 24-year-old Andrée de Jongh, a Belgian woman who helped aviators, Allied airmen and others escape over the Pyrenees called the Comet Line. In the book, the story tells the differences between this character, Isabell, and her sister.
- "With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of World War II and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France—a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime."
November Road by Lou Berney
This story begins in New Orleans, as any good story would, and takes you across the US during the 60's with a very unlikely pairing of travellers. Both on the run and for different reasons, they encounter troubles and seek fresh starts. A whole cast of characters keeps you turning the page along the way.
- "Set against the assassination of JFK, a poignant and evocative crime novel that centers on a desperate cat-and-mouse chase across 1960s America—a story of unexpected connections, daring possibilities, and the hope of second chances from the Edgar Award-winning author".
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
This book has recieved awards and raving reviews from nearl everyone we've talked to. The story is best described by the author himself (taken from Goodreads):
- A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery. Brimming with humour, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavour to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.