Oddly Specific Genres: Worldbuilders

Actions speak louder than dreams . . . at least when you are building better worlds.

So this month we turn from imaginary worlds to the stories of real people who envisioned a better world and made it happen. Read on – worldbuilders just may come in more sizes and shapes than you imagined!

If you enjoy history:

H.W. Brands’ The General vs the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War (2016)

The General vs the President

For a look inside a conflict that shaped the direction of both the Korean War and the Cold War, look no further than this recent, well-regarded history of the infamous spat between Harry Truman and Douglas MacArthur in 1951, which led to MacArthur being relieved of command. American historian H.W. Brands provides a thorough, well-researched look into one of the most famous political fights of the 20th century.

Recommended for those who enjoy Doris Kearns Goodwin and Stephen Ambrose.

Joe Jackson’s Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary (2016)

Black Elk

If you prefer go to further back in history, try this book instead. Nonfiction writer Joe Jackson has previously written about topics ranging from Charles Lindbergh to the U.S.S. Hornet. In this book, he turns his attention to legendary Oglala Sioux medicine man Black Elk and his life and times, including the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the difficulty of reservation life, the massacre at Wounded Knee, and beyond.

Recommended for those who enjoy reading Native American and American West history.

If you like memoirs:

Blaine McCormick’s Ben Franklin: America’s Original Entrepreneur: Franklin’s Autobiography Adapted for Modern Times (2005)

Ben Franklin

If you want to be inspired by the original American inventor, try this updated version of Ben Franklin’s classic autobiography. Blaine McCormick modernized the language, rearranged the chronology, and added helpful commentary to make it easier to read, but you can still enjoy Franklin’s anecdotes and wit.

Recommended for those who are interested in Franklin but feel intimidated by 18th century English.

If you prefer biographical fiction:

Alix Hawley’s All True Not a Lie In It (2016)

All True Not A Lie In It

If you’re not in the mood for a biography or memoir, try a novel about a famous person instead! Narrated from the perspective of Daniel Boone, this historical fiction novel chronicles Boone’s life from childhood through his eventful life. Though this book is Alix Hawley’s debut novel, it received a lot of praise for its compelling story and eloquent narration.

Recommended for those who enjoyed Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove and Mary Doria Russell’s Doc.

Sigmund Brouwer’s Saffire (2016)


If you want a story about worldbuilding that involves, well, building, Saffire chronicles the story of the construction of the Panama Canal in the early 20th century. But never fear–there’s also ample romance, mystery, and adventure as its protagonist gets drawn into helping an abandoned girl.

Recommended if you enjoy a blend of genres.

Christina Baker Kline’s A Piece of the World (2017)*

A Piece of the World

One of the more iconic paintings from the 1900s is Andrew Wyeth’s eerie Christina’s World. Wyeth was inspired by a middle-aged Maine native who lived near his summer home. She could not walk and lived as a shut-in at home, but Christina Baker Kline brings her haunting story to life, including the difficult relationship she had with her family and her friendship with Wyeth.

Recommended for those who enjoyed Susan Vreeland’s Lisette’s List and Robin Oliviera’s I Always Loved You.

*Ebook and audiobook also available on Libby.

For more information on any of these items, please follow this link to our online library catalog.

Do you like reading biographies or biographical fiction? Who is your favorite worldbuilder? What is the change you want to see in the world? Tell us in the comments!


Author: berryvillelibrary

"Our library, our future"

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