Love Outlander? Let Us Help You Find Your Next Read

Season 2 of Outlander is returning to the screen on April 9th on the Starz network. Surprisingly, not all fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series are eager to catch up with time-traveler Claire Randall and her highland hubbie Jamie Fraser. Some viewers found the explicit nature of certain scenes from the first season a little too disturbing. Even though the televised version stayed fairly close to the novel’s storyline, not everyone had the same reaction to seeing the written word depicted on the screen.

This difference really emphasizes how difficult it can be to make book recommendations. Using time, place and theme are a good starting point. It’s the fine nuances of appeal, however, that can make or break your take on a particular book. How much steam in a romance is too much? Is the pace too slow or the characters a little too introspective? Do you prefer books with a time travel theme or is historical accuracy more important to you?

So if you’re looking for a follow-up read to this or any other book, first take a few minutes to think about WHY you love a particular book. What are the elements that really appeal to you? Then stop by the information desk at your local library for a few minutes of in-depth conversation with a librarian. The more we know about your likes and dislikes, the better job we can do finding the right book.

Three very different reading recommendations for fans of Outlander are listed below and one of them may be just right for you. None of these appeal? No worries. Let us know what’s important to you, and we’ll go on a quest of our own to find your next great read.

If richly-detailed historical fiction, intricate plots and complex characters appeal, you’ll want to give Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles a try. The charismatic 16th century Scottish outlaw Francis Crawford, wanted on both sides of the border for treason, attempts to prove his innocence in The Game of Kings. At times heart-wrenchingly brutal, the series interweaves characters in political events and intrigue throughout Europe and Asia. You may find yourself pondering obscure poetry and consulting a dictionary here and there, but readers willing to invest the time will find the series full of satisfying characters and unexpected plot twists.

Sara Donati’s more slowly-paced Wilderness series places strong female characters in the late 18th century frontier of upstate New York. Donati’s saga begins when independent English spinster Elizabeth Middleton meets handsome backwoodsman Nathaniel Bonner in Into the Wilderness. Their romance kindles in the midst of various conflicts between natives of the Mohawk nation, local slave owners and Elizabeth’s own family. Donati sprinkles her novel with tributes to several well-known authors, so look for some familiar character cameos. The plot revolves primarily around local events, but it’s easy to find yourself immersed in her colorful characters and time period.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley focuses on a less well-known piece of Jacobite history, the failed 1708 Jacobite Expedition. When novelist Carrie McClelland begins writing about the attempt to bring the exiled ruler James Stuart to Scotland, her story seems to come to her almost effortlessly. As she continues her research, she discovers uncanny connections between her fictional characters and real people from both past and present. With the sweetly haunting style that marks Kearsley’s writing, the novel delivers a strong sense of period and place. 

-Rebecca Wolff, Centreville Regional Library

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