I’m going out of town for a couple of days (work, not pleasure, but with pretty scenery, I hope). While I concentrate on lofty, airplane-encouraging thoughts, here’s a question for you: Do you like it when historical novelists include a “Further Reading” section in their books? Or do you find it pretentious and/or unnecessary? Do you look at it, or pass it by?
Personally, I like it when an author provides a “Further Reading” section, and I’ve put one in The Stolen Crown. If I’m not familiar with a period or a historical figure, it’s useful to have a list of resources so I can read further, and if I am familiar with the period or person in question, I can get a good idea of the slant an author’s going to take simply by looking at the books he or she thinks are worthy of being included in the section. I can also get a sense of how much research an author’s done: if a historical figure’s been the subject of recent, well-thought-of biographies but the “Further Reading” section in a new novel doesn’t include any of them, it’s a red flag, though not always an infallible one.
Some authors, however, don’t include a separate “Further Reading” section, but do take the opportunity in their author’s note to mention some of the works they’ve relied upon. Some novels, particularly older ones such as some of Jean Plaidy’s, contain a “Works Consulted” section but usually no author’s note. Some compile a suggested reading list for their websites, but leave it out of their novels.
If an author does include a “Further Reading” section, how extensive should it be? Books only? Books and articles? Books that can easily be obtained at a local library or a bookstore, or books that a reader might have to utilize a university library or inter-library loan to obtain? Most authors seem to confine themselves to books, as I did, because listing articles would have made for a very long list, more suited for an academic book than a novel.
So what do you prefer?