Thursday, November 16, 2023

The 2023 Goodreads Choice Awards historical fiction nominees are up – but look in other categories, too

The initial round of the 2023 Goodreads Choice Awards is open for voting through Sunday, November 26th. Have you made your selections yet?

I always participate, even though I agree with the sentiment that it's primarily a popularity contest (which Goodreads itself says; they include in their guidelines that "our goal is to have the Goodreads Choice Awards reflect the books that are most popular with our members"). There's no longer an option to provide write-in votes, so what you see within the categories are the nominees.

It is nice that they always include a historical fiction category.  I've only read three of them and would like to read the others. This year, there seems less of an issue with novels that seemed a stretch too late for historical fiction (like, set primarily in the 1980s or 1990s) being included in this category.

Goodreads Choice historical fiction nominees

A note, though, that if you want to cast your votes for historical fiction, you should make sure to scan the other fiction categories to see what's there.  For the novels above which are debuts, you'll find most within the Debut Novel category as well.

Historical fiction frequently overlaps with other genres, creating genre-blends.  I nearly missed that Kate Morton's Homecoming was in the Mystery category, for instance. Within Horror, you'll find Victor Lavalle's Lone Women, which is a great example of that genre as well as historical fiction (an excellent, original, very strange novel I may review later), as well as Vampires of El Norte by Isabel Cañas and The Reformatory by Tananarive Due. I also noticed that Isabel Allende's The Wind Knows My Name, another dual-time novel but set mostly in the '80s and after, is placed with Historical Fiction rather than in the general Fiction category. 

If you're looking to find the ancient myth retellings so popular in historical fiction lately, you won't find them in that category; instead, you'll find them under Fantasy. This makes sense for Natalie Haynes' Stone Blind, about Medusa, but one could argue that Jennifer Saint's Atalanta and Costanza Casati's Clytemnestra fit better as historical fiction, if you had to choose one and only one category for them.  For me, the decision hinges on whether the author has made the effort to re-create a realistic historical atmosphere of ancient Greece, or whether the novel is primarily set in the realm of myth.

I always find it interesting to see how others choose to categorize novels.  Voting for the final round for the awards will begin on November 28th.


  1. Katharine Ott4:28 AM

    I don't participate in this, mainly because I'm usually reading back list. But I did read Groff's The Vaster Wild and thought it was great - a challenging survival story. I have Weyward and The Secret Book on my TBR. Some interesting titles there - thanks!

    1. My goal is to spend more time reading backlist books I own, though I haven't made as much progress as I'd like! I haven't read Groff's latest novel or the previous one though did enjoy The Monsters of Templeton.