Past Tense

Hot Summer Days and Heat Waves in Historical Fiction

Hi historical fiction fans!

I hope you’re all surviving the heat for those of you also in the Northern Hemisphere. My part of the southern U.S. has been hitting record heat waves with temperatures over 100°F (38°C) most days. It’s been a constant effort to stay cool and hydrated, but good books have helped me find relief from the heat and the ups and downs of life, as always.

Bookish Goods

Old Books Candle from Smells Like Books on Etsy

Old Books Candle

I know I’m not the only one around here who loves the smell of old books. I mean, used book stores? Old libraries? It’s the best smell, and now you can smell it anytime. $24

New Releases

The Half Life of Valery K Book Cover

The Half Life of Valery K by Natasha Pulley

A former nuclear specialist is taken from a Siberian prison in the 1960s by an old professor, only to find that his new work in a mysterious, unnamed city, detecting radiation levels in local animals, might be even worse than imprisonment.

The Librarian Spy Book Cover

The Librarian Spy by Madeline Martin

Ava is a librarian turned spy during the Second World War, having moved on from her quiet job at the Library of Congress to work undercover in Lisbon. Through a series of coded messages, she becomes connected to an apprentice at a printing press in France, passing secrets back and forth even as the war ravages Europe.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

Sometimes it’s nice to envision colder climates when it’s as hot as it’s been lately in so much of North America and Europe. But sometimes solidarity is good, too. These books take place during boiling hot summers and in hot climates.

When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky Book Cover

When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky by Margaret Verble

A young Cherokee horse-diver preforming in the Glendale Park Zoo one Nashville summer (which I can attest from experience get ungodly hot) is drawn into a mystery when disaster strikes the show, only for strange occurrences–unexplained illnesses, apparitions–to begin haunting the park.

The Dance Tree Book Cover

The Dance Tree by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

During the boiling hot summer of 1518 in Strasbourg, a pregnant beekeeper, her best friend, and her mother in law are rocked by the return of someone long lost to them during six years of penance for a sin no one will speak of. In the midst of the heat, a dancing plague begins to take over the town square, and the religious fervor of the men in charge of the city threaten everyone and everything Lisbet holds dear, from her bees to her best friend.

Last Summer on State Street Book Cover

Last Summer on State Street by Toya Wolfe

During one life-changing summer, four girls in the housing projects of Chicago watch their friendships, families, and homes built up and torn down. As Fe Fe looks back on that summer in 1999, just before her home was demolished, she considers the power of childhood bonds built in the blink of an eye and the racism that brought grief into her childhood years too early.

That’s it for now, folx! Stay subscribed for more stories of yesteryear.

If you want to talk books (historical or otherwise), you can find me @rachelsbrittain on Instagram, Goodreads, Litsy, and occasionally Twitter.

Right now I’m reading Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield and The Plotters by Un-su Kim. What about you?