Top Ten Tuesday—Historical Settings I’d Like to See More Of

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly feature of The Broke and the Bookish. A full list of instructions and future themes can be found here. This week is a freebie, so I’m going to do historical settings I’d like to see more of.

1. Heian Japan! This was the last era of classical Japanese history, running from 794 to 1185. So much amazing poetry, literature, and culture came from this era. It was also the peak of the Japanese Imperial Court. I’d love to see more Japanese historicals overall, but I’m drawn to the Heian era in particular.

2. Immigrant stories NOT set in New York City! It’s pretty cliché, and kind of boring, to automatically set an immigrant story in NYC, particularly the Lower East Side. My ancestors are proof that not all immigrants settled in NYC! How about Pittsburgh, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Detroit, St. Paul? I’d also love to see more immigrant stories set outside the U.S. Many people also immigrated to England, Canada, Australia, South America, Latin America, Israel, and New Zealand.

3. The Golden Age of Islam. This was such an amazingly rich time, in so many different places—Spain, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Portugal, Afghanistan, Iran, India (by pre–1947 borders), you name it. It would be particularly nice to see more books with this setting to help to counter the repulsive Islamophobia so rampant nowadays. I’ve been around Muslims my entire life, so I know the vast majority are wonderful people, not terrorists and hate-filled fanatics.

4. The immediate post–WWII era. Too many books, both memoirs and novels, stop too soon after the end of the war, when an equally compelling story was just beginning. Let’s see veterans returning to civilian life, servicepeople still stationed overseas since they don’t have enough points to come home, Shoah survivors relearning how to be part of a world that’ll never be normal again, people adapting to normal life after all the homefront restrictions are lifted.

5. Prehistory. Tasteful, mind you, not tawdry like The Clan of the Cave Bear. My favourite prehistoric people have always been the Neanderthals, but I’d equally welcome a book about Cro Magnons, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Australopithecines, even pre-Australopithecine ancestors like Sivapithecus, Oreopithecus, Dryopithecus, or Ardipithecus. In case you can’t tell, paleoanthropology and evolutionary biology are two of my passions. It would be really cool to see a story set millions of years ago, among creatures without spoken language, houses, clothes, or fire.

6. The Early Middle Ages. The popular image of the Middle Ages is of the High and Late periods, but the era started about 300. Many people don’t know or care much about this period, though there’s such fertile ground for so many different stories.

7. Anything to do with Persian/Iranian history. Like with #3, Westerners need to see this is a people of peace, knowledge, friendship, hospitality, learning, intelligence. Many people also don’t realise Iran was a very modern, secular, Westernised country until 1979. I’d be particularly interested in reading something set during the Safavid Dynasty (1502–1736).

8. The Golden Age of Georgia, 12th–13th centuries. This period included two of Georgia’s greatest rulers, King Davit IV (David the Builder) and Queen Tamar the Great. Science, culture, literature, philosophy, and architecture flourished during this period. There also isn’t much of any fiction set in Georgia, either historical or contemporary.

9. Estonia’s National Awakening in the 19th and early 20th century. This people suffered so much under Swedish, German, and Russian occupiers for so many centuries, and they finally became empowered to start throwing off their chains and reclaiming their national language and culture. Their first national song festival was held in 1869, at which they sang for their freedom.

10. World War One. This really is the forgotten war, with so relative few books and films made about it for decades. It doesn’t matter if the book is about soldiers or civilians, or in which country.

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14 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday—Historical Settings I’d Like to See More Of

  1. Really interesting list. I would recommend The Tournament by Matthew Reilly, it takes place in the Ottoman Empire in 1546, very much explores the emergence of Islam as a potential global power.

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  2. O.M.G. I love you for this list. I don’t know much about Japanese history beyond WW2, so I am here for Heian Japan. I would also love more post-WW2 era stories. Rose Under Fire did that a little bit, but I want more. I want more prehistory too, including more books about dinosaurs. I’m not sure how that would work without people around (time travel?) but give me dinosaurs now. All of the other prehistoric people would also be awesome. PERSIA! I’m doing an A Level in Classical Civilisations and the Persian Wars is one of my units. It’s so fascinating! I would also add any ancient history that’s not set in Rome, Greece, or Egypt. Give me more!

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  3. Love these ideas! I always love a unique historical fiction that is set in a bit different time or place. For instance, Prisoner of Night and Fog was one that was about Hitler really, but was set right after the first world war, which a lot of times we don’t really think about that as much. And then Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson is set in the Revolutionary War and talks about slavery, again, a topic normally only written about with the Civil War. Great topic!
    Check out my Top 10

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