Year of Historical Reading – September Update

I had a tough reading month.  With the start of school, both virtual and in-person for my kids, my time to read has really decreased!  Between making lunch, troubleshooting technology issues, and driving to and from school, I just haven’t gotten into a good routine.  I am hoping that October will be better, as we get into the rhythm of school (just in time for it to change again!).  

Here are my books for September, and I have indicated if they were pulled from my unread shelves, purchased, or borrowed from the library.  

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Historical Fiction

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert (own/ebook)

I read this historical fiction book for my book club, and it sheds light on the glamorous (and seedy!) theater scene of New York City in 1940.  The main character, Vivian, falls into a world of decadence, creativity, and fashion in the theater before World War II begins.  However, the good times end in a horrible, shaming way that colors the rest of her life.  I didn’t enjoy the first part of this book – it’s pretty graphic! – but enjoyed the second half more, when Vivian’s life settles down.  I liked learning more about New York City during World War II and how it changes over the next decades.  I have enjoyed the author’s nonfiction, especially Big Magic, but this book was very different.  Many of my friends in the book club loved it!

King’s Mountain by Sharyn McCrumb (own)

I am finishing up the last pages of this book today.  It is a historical fiction retelling of the Battle of Kings Mountain in South Carolina, which is near my hometown of Kings Mountain, NC.  I grew up going to this battlefield and its adjacent state park for church and family events.  I have visited the National Military Park several times with my own kids and will be writing about it next week for the blog.  The book tells the story from several different perspectives, including the infamous British Army Major Patrick Ferguson, his American mistress, Virginia Sal, and most notably, John Sevier, the leader of the Overmountain Men from the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina who defeated the British forces here.  The book was very interesting for me, with my personal connection to the battle, and contains an abundance of historical facts.  Someone without a personal connection or interest in the battle may find it more challenging to get through but I am loving it!

Historical Nonfiction

The River Where America Began: A Journey Along the James by Bob Deans (own)

This author is the emcee at the Junior League of Richmond’s Book and Author dinner that I attend every year, and from that event, I knew that he was a gifted storyteller.  With my blog posts about the Virginia Capital Trail and Sherwood Forest this month, it was time for me to finally read it.  The book is a fascinating synopsis of American history that centers around the James River, from the Jamestown settlement to the Civil War.  There is so much history along this river, including Native American, European, and African stories.  The author has a wonderful way with words and really draws you into the stories with his insightful and lyrical prose.  I really loved all of his extensively researched historical tidbits!

A Woman of Valor: Clara Barton and the Civil War by Stephen B. Oates (library)

I read this nonfiction book about Clara Barton to prepare for my Travel with Books video about Magic Tree House #21: Civil War on Sunday.  Wow, what a fascinating life!  Clara was known as the “Angel of the Battlefield” and the author’s descriptions of her tireless work at battles, ranging from Virginia to Maryland to South Carolina, are heart-stopping and amazing.  She saw such horrible sites on the battlefield, as she was sometimes the only person available to help the surgeons with amputations and caring for the soldiers.  Her careful planning, ability to raise and provide needed supplies, and her empathy for all soldiers is inspiring.  She is truly an American hero!

Stats for September:

100% historical fiction and nonfiction 

3 of 125+ unread books 

1 library book

If you enjoy following along on my Year of Historical Reading, be sure to friend The History Mom on Goodreads and to follow me on Instagram, where I post the books I am reading in real time.  You can also visit my shop on, an Amazon alternative that supports independent bookstores.  This link is an affiliate link where I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

What was your favorite book from your September reads?  Comment below!

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