Story Research: Current Go-To Books on the Bookshelf

I love perusing other people’s bookshelves. Don’t you?

As a historical fiction writer, I spend much of my time doing research. Below is a sampling of the books currently sitting on my bookshelf. Have fun browsing!

Bulfinch’s Boston, 1787-1817
by Harold and James Kirker
Oxford University Press, 1964

This book provides a charming, if somewhat biased, view into Federalist Boston through the lens of Charles Bulfinch, the famous Boston architect. Reading it, I feel as if I am walking the same streets as the characters of my story.

The Reshaping of Everyday Life, 1790-1840
(Everyday Life in America series)
by Jack Larkin
Harper & Row, 1988

Larkin covers nearly every aspect of early American daily life in this comprehensive social history.

The American Heritage History of the Making of the Nation, 1783-1860
Ralph K. Andrist, series editor
American Heritage/Bonanza Books, 1968

Coffee table books have their uses! A helpful historical survey.

Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century
The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute

Another coffee table book, and gorgeous, too! The Kyoto collection is online, but nothing beats seeing large, glossy spreads and close-ups of historical fashions. All the details!

The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking
by Lauren Stowell and Abby Cox
Page Street Publishing, 2017

My main character is a mantua-maker (dressmaker). I am not. My story could not have been written without this book. I reference it constantly.

America and the Sea: A Maritime History
by Benjamin W. Labaree, et al
Mystic Seaport Museum

And my other main character is a merchant seaman. Another book I couldn’t do without!

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