Thursday, 25 August 2011

Booking Through Thursday: History

When is the last time you read a history book? Historical biography?
You know, something that took place in the past but was REAL.

Back in May I read a book that I think is categorized as a novel but it is at the same time a biography. It's a novel by Swedish author P O Enquist, English title Lewi's Journey (but I read it in Swedish), about the life of Lewi Pethrus: founder of, or at least very influential in, the Swedish Pentecostal movement back in the early 20th century. I guess there is a bit too much speculation and interpretation involved (about people's feelings etc) to make it a proper biography; but it is about real people, and contains a lot of interesting facts. I liked it. The author shows respect for the people he writes about (great religious leaders of their time) and at the same time he tries to get to the bottom of what may have been behind conflicts within the movement etc.

I've also this year been rereading two other Swedish series of novels, in which the main characters are fictional, but the background based a lot on historical facts and events. 

Jerusalem (1901-1902) by Selma Lagerlöf  (the first female writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature). Two novels about a group of people from the Swedish province of Dalarna (Dalecarlia) who emigrated to the Holy City in the 19th century, and there joined an American colony with similar religious views as themselves. 

A set of five novels written in the 1960s by Swedish author Per Anders Fogelström about the city of Stockholm (our capital) - describing the lives of successive generations of Stockholmers between 1860 and 1968. According to Wikipedia only the first two have been translated into English: City of my Dreams covering the period from 1860-1880, and Children of their City covering 1880-1900.

I think I've learned a lot about the life of previous generations (especially from the 19th century and through World War II) through historical novels like that.


  1. back in the 60's and 70's I read many many historical novels, but I guess they don't count. the only book I ever read that was true history was in the 11th and 12 grades of school, History was not my favorite subject so i read enough to pass the course. if i were in the class now, i would read it more and learn more, back then it meant nothing, i just wanted to get out of school. I like History and love the post you do about your town, but I like it in short bursts not a whole book and not DETAILS as in a museum reading every single word about everything there. just the facts

  2. I did one term of history at the University back in the 80s, it was interesting but it does tend to get very intense and so crammed with facts that one can't possibly keep it all in memory for long. I think the form of the novel often makes it easier to relate and take things in.

  3. I used to read quite a bit of this type of book, but in the last couple years I have so many jobs and never have time to read, my blogging seems to have replaced it!

  4. Well, blogging is another way of learning, isn't it... From each other, and also from looking up facts for our own posts!

  5. Fact and fiction blend together so beautifully in historical novels, don't they?

    Here's my BTT post:

  6. The last 3 nonfiction books I read were The Duchess (the story of Lady Georgiana Spencer the Duchess of Devonshire) by Amanda Foreman, Marie Antoinnette by Antonia Fraser and the Geography of Bliss where the author goes out to find out why some countries are happier than others. The 2 biographies I read because I'd seen movies made from the books and I wanted to know more about the women. I'm not a big reader of nonfiction but do "dip" into it occasionally.


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