Epoch Booklist: Recommended Reading for June 21–27

Epoch Booklist: Recommended Reading for June 21–27
Dustin Bass
Jeff Minick
Barbara Danza
This week, we feature a literature-themed tale about forgiveness and fresh starts and a history of one of the ancient world’s greatest repositories of knowledge: the Library of Alexandria.


By Monica Wood

This tryptic of a novel tells its story through Violet, a young woman recently released from prison; Harriet, a former teacher who directs a book club for female inmates; and Frank, a retired machinist whose wife died in the car crash Violet caused.

The collision of their lives brings revelations and surprises for readers. Wood blends humor with heroism and pathos, and through these and other characters explores topics like shame, forgiveness, and literature’s ability to alter our perceptions.

Mariner Books, 2024, 288 pages

Historical Fiction

By Colleen McCullough

The first in the seven-novel “Masters of Rome” series, this book traces the rise to power of Marius and Sulla in late Republican Rome. Breathtakingly well written and marvelously researched, it brings ancient Rome to life. Its fascinating story reveals the politics of Rome and shows how people lived there. Start reading the series and you cannot put it down. The book and series is more than simple entertainment, it offers disquieting parallels to events taking place in the United States today.

Avon Books, 2008, 1123 pages 

Art History

By Rochelle Gurstein

Fifteen years ago, Rochelle Gurstein began writing a book to define what made a piece of art a timeless classic. She discovered today’s classics—the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo—were largely ignored in the past, while other works were considered timeless. She wrote this book to show why aesthetics and artistic taste are products of their time and the definition of a classic changes. A thought-provoking book that will force readers to view art in a new way.

Yale University Press, 2024, 520 pages


By Islam Issa

Alexandria is one of history’s most famous cities. Founded by Alexander the Great, it became a beacon of knowledge, a source of creativity, and a safe haven for diverse groups of people. Issa takes the reader on the nearly 2,500 year journey through the rises and declines of this great city, from the era of the Ptolemies and Cleopatras to the rise of the Christians and then the Muslims. It is a work of intricate detail that helps tell the history of the world since humanity first began to keep records.

Pegasus Books, 2024, 496 pages


Edited by Jon E. Lewis

Open this book and you’re whisked back to firsthand descriptions of people and events from the past. Read Herodotus on hunting crocodiles in Egypt circa 450 B.C., Lord Edmund Howard’s 1535 battle with kidney stones, Elizabeth Smith’s account of the Irish Potato Famine, or any of the hundreds of other takes on a particular moment in history. You begin with a Mesopotamian schoolboy circa 2000 B.C. and end with Princess Diana. A fantastic compilation suitable for older teens and adults alike.

Running Press, 1998, 644 pages

For Kids

By Barbara Cooney

A delightful summer read from beloved children’s book author Barbara Cooney, “Hattie and the Wild Waves” depicts a successful, entrepreneurial family of German immigrants who live in Brooklyn and summer at the seashore. It is beside the ocean that young Hattie feels especially inspired. A beautifully illustrated, timeless, and uplifting read aloud.

Viking Juvenile, 1990, 48 pages 
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Dustin Bass is an author and co-host of The Sons of History podcast. He also writes two weekly series for The Epoch Times: Profiles in History and This Week in History.