This Saturday, the Teen Reading Group at Leamington Library will be discussing their favourite historical reads. There are no limitations – members can pick any book set in any time and place to share with the rest of the group and I am really looking forward to hearing what people have been reading.

Now, for the SPOILER ALERT! If you can’t get to the meeting this Saturday (it’s at 3pm and you can find details here), here’s what I’ve been reading in preparation (disclaimer – they are not all YA, though all are accessible and could be read by young adults).


Orphan, Monster, Spy by Matt Killeen

This was recommended by one of the group at our last but one session and it really didn’t disappoint. It was a thrilling page turner – so much so that I woke up early over the Bank Holiday weekend to finish it. Set in Nazi Germany, it tells the story of Sarah, a Jewish orphan sent to spy on the monstrous happenings at an all-girls Nazi school (you can see where the title comes from!) Scarily realistic, this was a great book and I am so pleased that there is more to come as Sarah returns in ‘Devil, Darling, Spy’ (though there’s no date for this yet – gahhhhh!!) I also LOVED the cover!

Lightning Mary by Anthea Simmons

This is the story of the early life of Mary Anning, famous for unearthing many fossils along the Jurassic coast of Dorset in the Nineteenth Century. If, like me, you wanted to be a paleontologist when you grew up, this is the perfect book for you. Full of adventure and bringing to life the story of one of the few women involved in science during this period of history, I would highly recommend this. Mary’s is a story of tragedy and resilience and demonstrates that, even when facing barriers of class and gender, you can have an impact.

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

One that I haven’t read yet and won’t before Saturday (it’s a doorstop at 482 pages) but this is one that is firmly on my ‘To Be Read’ list. Set in New York in 1890 (I’m already loving it!), it features “A wealthy family. A deadly secret. A girl with more to lose than she knows” according to the blurb on the back – how could you not want to know more?

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The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

There is very much a publishing trend at the moment that focuses on stories of the Holocaust and Second World War. Big sellers recently have included ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz‘ by Heather Morris and ‘The Librarian of Auschwitz‘ by  Antonio Iturbe (the trend is not just in the topic, have a look at the similar cover designs too!). ‘The Orphan’s Tale’ follows Noa and the baby she saves from a train bound for the concentration camps. Rescued by a German circus, Noa earns her keep by learning the trapeze under the teaching of the mysterious Astrid, who is keeping big secrets. It’s a story inspired by real events and does not shy away from the brutal realities and danger faced by those living under the Third Reich.

All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison

In the years following the First World War, England faced changing times as automation, machinery and a more industrial way of life began to dominate over older, agricultural ways. Harrison’s novel looks at this change through the eyes of Edie Mather, a teenager exploring the world, its politics and who she is as the years pass. Full of description of nature and the land, the story builds gradually with tension mounting as Edie and her family come to terms with 1930s society.

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Those are the books I will be discussing on Saturday – just a few of the many historical reads I could have chosen. I’m looking forward to hearing what else members of the group have been reading and finding out what they think the best historical period is (let me know your preferences in the comments).

The Teen Reading Group meet every month at Leamington Library at 3pm. In June, we are thrilled to be welcoming debut novelist Kate Mallinder – her book ‘Summer of No Regrets‘ was published last week and I can not wait to read it. Kate will be talking about her writing, sharing her favourite reads and answering your questions. It’s free to come along and you can book your place here.

Hope to see you at Leamington on Saturday to find out what else has been on your reading list!

Happy reading!

ED