1. A Brief History of Life in Victorian Britain by Michael Paterson
If you’re looking for a good general reference book for life this period, then this book is an excellent place to start. It covers everything from dinner parties to warfare, fashion to religion, calling card etiquette to modes of transportation, and it even lists average and example prices for many every day items, from a cup of coffee to a train ticket. The information is concise, providing surprising depth to the breadth that it offers.
2. The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel
I admit it, I found this book after watching the movie. I thought the movie was good…until I read the book. The book is so much more. It felt like a secret history was being revealed–things that no one knows. I learned things about art history and conservation that I didn’t even hear in my art conservation program. If you have any interest in art, history, or WWII, then this is definitely a must read. My full review of it can be found here.
3. Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life by Joan D. Hedrick
I grabbed this book for research purposes while developing my village character at the Historical Society. It’s massive (over 1,000 pages) and I didn’t have time to read it all. I want to go back to it this year and give it the time it deserves, because it’s fascinating. The Beechers were really interesting people, and there’s tons of info on the political and cultural landscape of the area at the time, as well information on feminism, education, and attitudes about marriage and household.
4. Knitting America by Susan M. Strawn
This book is exactly what it says on the cover, and it does not disappoint in the least. It covers the history of knitting in north America (mostly the US but it does touch a little on Canada) from the first settlers to present day. I read the e-book version, and then went out and bought a hard copy so that I could get a better look at the photos and the sources used. It answered a lot of questions that I had when doing my own research.