I have already shared my gift guide for historians and history buffs, but I have had quite a few more requests specifically for history books that people can give as a gift. Although my voracious reading habit can sometimes be a pain (there is never enough time to read!), it really pays dividends for you, my lovely readers. I read across many centuries and topics, and run the gamut from pop history to academic books. These are my 5 favourite history books to give as gifts to the history lover in your life!
The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, Alison Weir
I just finished reading this book from Alison Weir, and I was surprised to find that I loved it! Anne Boleyn is not one of my favourite historical figures (that goes for most of Henry VIII’s wives). People tend to get fanatical about Anne, in either defense or attack, but that doesn’t lead to the most balanced books. This book gives you Anne’s background and her rise that arguably led to her fall, as well as the factions that jockeyed for her downfall. I appreciated that it took you day by day through Anne’s fall and her time in the tower, as well what the men accused with her would have experienced. Weir does deal with the accusations against Anne, but does not make definitive statements on whether or not she was actually guilty (a trap that many historians seem to fall into). I would recommend this for anyone who watches any sort of Kardashian show, as this is the original drama!
I think all of us tend to take maps for granted. With the rise of smartphones, we don’t really need to look at them, do we? Set an address into Google Maps and wait for whatever voice you’ve chosen to navigate you to your destination. Well, Garfield shows you just how many ways maps factor into our lives beyond standard navigation. They show up in books and literature, board games, and even in the human body. (The nervous system is essentially a map of you…) This is a great book for anyone who loves pop culture or having fast facts at their finger tips! I’ve used a few nuggets from this book at different pub quizzes, and it has really made me think a lot more about maps without becoming a clinical study.
I’ve already chatted about how much I love this book here, but with Mary, Queen of Scots just arriving in theatres, it seems fortuitous timing. Yes, this is certainly a deep dive of a biography, as John Guy covers Mary’s life and reign in detail. However, Mary, Queen of Scots may possibly be one of the most fascinating monarchs to ever take a throne, and she is well-deserving of the attention that she receives. Elizabeth I is often praised for her masculine ruling style and everything that she accomplished, but I think that Mary is deserving of as much or more of the praise, especially in 2018. I know that many historians like to dismiss Mary as a sixteenth century flibberty-gibbet who thought only with her heart, but I think modern readers can appreciate her drive to live her life the way that she wanted! (I’m not an Elizabeth I fan, FYI…) Give this to the historian who likes to re-visit something from an entirely new angle!
(In case you were wondering, Mary, Queen of Scots sadly isn’t showing in any theatres in Winnipeg, so I’m left waiting until it comes out digitally. BOOOOOOOOOOO, movie theatre owners!)
Deluxe: How Luxury Lost It’s Luster, Dana Thomas
I believe that this is one of the best books on style history that is currently available. We all have seen the recent rise of luxury goods- how many people do we know that casually flash their Louis Vuitton handbag or their Gucci t-shirt? But the bigger question is, is the rise really that recent, and what price are we paying for it! This is the perfect book for anyone who is invested in their sense of style, as Thomas discusses several infamous fashion houses and their 100+ year old histories. I love it when an author can draw a direct line from what happens in the past to where we find ourselves today, as I think that it makes history come alive for more people when they can see how it has directly affected us! It would also be great for anyone who is interested in the economics of luxury and how the market has grown and evolved. (A good knowledge of the market where you buy your goods can only help you as a consumer!) And if the rumours are true, we should have a follow up to Deluxe in 2019 to look forward to!
Georgian London: Into the Streets, Lucy Inglis
The Georgian period is one of my favourites to study- technology was rapidly advancing but society was still incredibly stratified, making for a fascinating mix of growth and tradition. Lucy Inglis’s Georgian London looks at all facets of life, through the eyes of the aristocracy all the way down to the poorest beggar on the streets. I love that she delves into the marks left and what we can see today of Georgian London, as the Georgian period is still very much present in London. It’s also on the pop history side, meaning that it isn’t dry or clinical at all, and you don’t need any prior knowledge to read and enjoy Georgian London! This is another book that is good for anyone who likes drama. Throughout the book you may find yourself wading through more than few scandals, brothels, and murders. I would also recommend this book to anyone who is heading to the UK on a trip, as it makes you look at London with fresh eyes!