Reader Friday: Contemporary or Historical?

Do you prefer to read stories set in contemporary or historical times?

Do you have a favorite era? If so, what first drew you to that era? What keeps you coming back for more?

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About Sue Coletta

Sue Coletta is an award-winning crime writer and an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Feedspot and named her Murder Blog as “Best 100 Crime Blogs on the Net.” She also blogs at the Kill Zone, Story Empire, and Writers Helping Writers. Sue lives with her husband in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Her backlist includes psychological thrillers, the Mayhem Series (books 1-3) and Grafton County Series, and true crime/narrative nonfiction. Now, she exclusively writes eco-thrillers, Mayhem Series (books 4-8 and continuing). Sue's appeared on the Emmy award-winning true crime series, Storm of Suspicion, and three episodes of A Time to Kill on Investigation Discovery. Learn more about Sue and her books at

21 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Contemporary or Historical?

  1. Historical, hands down. I was born in the wrong century, in the wrong place. I would’ve loved to be a scout, moving all over the American West, back when it wasn’t overpopulated and the land still relatively unscathed from human foolishness. I’d much rather immerse myself in a story that is all human than all mechanical.

    I have one 19th century book that I want to incorporate a spy element into. It can be done, but the very long periods of time necessary for communication from one party to another make it a challenge.

    The only contemporary settings I read are thrillers. Because the fun of reading a thriller makes up for the fact that I can’t “escape” the modern age.

    • “…back when it wasn’t overpopulated and the land still relatively unscathed from human foolishness.” Love that line, Brenda. So true!

      Agreed regarding contemporary thrillers. I love them for the same reason — escapism.

  2. I read a variety of time periods.

    Right now I’m enjoying a medieval mystery, Hangman Blind by Cassandra Clark (Was she mentioned here? If so Thank You for putting her on my to-be-read pile). I’ve also enjoyed regency romance, mid 20th century mysteries, and contemporary women’s fiction.

    • Hmm, not sure if Cassandra Clark was mentioned here or not. I’ll have to look for Hangman Blind. I could go for a well-rendered medieval mystery. Thanks, Lisa!

  3. If the story is good, I can enjoy tales set anywhere in any time period. I like WWII fiction. Lately, after I read Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, I have delved into Swedish fiction some.

    From Janet Auel’s Earth’s Children series through Brodie and Brock Thoene’s wonderful stories to John Farris’ Harrison High series to the works of Herman Wouk, Irving Wallace, and more recently, Nelson DeMille, Tom Clancy–well, just open the card catalog and start pulling out names–I enjoy it all.

  4. Contemporary. We live in such exciting times. And I think we humans have never been so aware of the brilliance of being here in now as we are today. It is just amazing to explore our quirky thought processes entwined with all the technology and fast pace of life, as well as the rise of mindfulness and meditation. It’s just so paradoxical and colorful that I can’t help but want to read more and more on this; both fiction and non-fiction. 😀

  5. I can go anyplace at any time. Most of what I read is post WWII to the near future. But, I enjoy historical fiction as long as it is well done.

  6. This is a tough question to answer. I think a well-written book is desirable whether it’s Historical or Contemporary. I’m going to say Contemporary, though I’m a sucker for Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie.

  7. I like well-written fiction set in any era. The key is, how is the author presenting his characters? Are they authentic to the era, not just in how they dress but in how they act, how they speak. Some do it well, others do not. It works for film as well. I remember a scene in the TV series “Hercules,” set in some sort of hybrid-Hyborean era, where Hercules’ sidekick said, “I’m outta here.” An eye-roller for sure, but at least Hercules didn’t respond with, “Later, dude.”

    • I agree, David. That would be an eye-rolling moment for me, too. You make an excellent point about staying true to the era. In my historical research the use of adverbs ran rampant. I’m now struggling with how to cut some (obviously not in dialogue) without losing authenticity. It’s a delicate balancing act.

  8. I read more contemporary novels, but as long as it’s a good story I don’t really care! It’s nice to change it up a bit sometimes, so something in a different genre/historical/non-fiction/set in another country,etc.

    • My thoughts exactly, Linda. I like to mix it up a bit, alternating between historical and contemporary. A good story is a good story regardless of setting.

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