Favorite September 2023 Reads

I was shocked when I sat down to write this and realized I had read 20 books in September! I had no idea! I had several five star reads and read my first Christmas-themed book of the season. Many were ARCs (advanced reader copies), and I realized I’ve been too beholden to my NetGalley rating. I hope to read more backlist for the rest of the year and not worry so much about my advanced reviews!

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Favorite Historical Fiction

The Woman at the Wheel by Penny Haw

This captivating novel about Bertha Benz who helped her husband invent the first “autowagon” is historical fiction at its best – informative, intriguing, and chock full of history. Read my review here.

Destination from book:

Mercedes-Benz Museum, Stuttgart, Germany

How fun would it be to go to this museum about Bertha’s family business in Germany. The restaurant is even named after her!

The Other Princess by Denny S. Bryce

This novel about an African princess who becomes the goddaughter of England’s Queen Victoria is fascinating. Read my review here.

Destination from book:

London, England

From the halls of Buckingham Palace to the gardens at Kensington Palace, London is a character in the book. I definitely want to go one summer when I can actually go to Buckingham Palace! To learn more about Queen Victoria, Kensington Palace is a must-see! 

A Traitor in Whitehall by Julia Kelly

This first book in a planned historical mystery series takes place in the cramped underground hallways of Churchill’s War Rooms. I loved reading about this bustling place during WWII and can’t wait for more in the series! Read my review (with pictures of the museum listed below!) here.

Destination from book:

Churchill War Rooms, London, England

One of my favorite historical museums of all time, this takes you into the very war rooms where the book is set. It’s so atmospheric, down to even seeing sugar cubes left on a desk when victory was declared!

The Constant Princess by Philappa Gregory

As I watched The Spanish Princess historical drama on STARZ, I realized there was a book upon which it was based. This novel by a prolific historical fiction writer details the life of Katherine of Aragon as she left her native Spain to marry Prince Arthur of England. When he dies early, she is then married to his brother, the future King Henry VIII, and their marriage ends up changing the world.

Destination from book:

Hampton Court Palace, England

The best place to get a feel for Tudor England is the atmospheric Hampton Court Palace. You’ll feel like Katherine as you wander its gardens or its heavily paneled hallways. 

The Roaring Days of Zora Lily by Noelle Salazar

This fantastic book was a five star read for me! Taking place in the Roaring 1920s, it follows a penniless Seattle girl who sews her way to Hollywood and achieves her highest dream of being a fashion designer. 

Destinations from book:

Museum of History and Industry, Seattle, Washington

Zora lives in Seattle, so this museum is the perfect place to learn more about the city’s history, including the speakeasies and jazz clubs from the book.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

While not in the book, this museum’s Costume Institute is the best place to see the beautiful fashion like Zora created. 

Favorite History Nonfiction

Mourning the Presidents: Loss and Legacy in American Culture by Lindsay M. Chervinsky and Matthew R. Costello

This book focuses on how the nation mourned several presidents from George Washington to George H.W. Bush. It’s fascinating to look at these important events in American history from so many different angles.

Destination from book:

Washington, DC 

Of course, most presidents have some sort of funeral in the nation’s capital. While visiting the US Capitol, you can see the catafalque used first for President Lincoln’s funeral and then by President Kennedy and President Bush most recently. At the White House, you can learn more about how the presidents were honored after death. At Arlington Cemetery, you can visit the graves of President Kennedy and President Taft. Finally, at the National Cathedral, you can see President Wilson’s grave and the place where many presidents have their official funerals.

The Six: The Untold Story of America’s First Women Astronauts by Loren Grush

As a child, I was obsessed with becoming an astronaut, so I loved this book about the six women chosen to join the space program in the late 1970s/early 1980s. 

Destination from book:

Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida

I visited the space center over 30 years ago, right before the Challenger disaster. I would love to take my kids here one day! 

What was your favorite book read in September? 

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