In Pulitzer-prize winning author Geraldine Brooks' novel People of the Book (2008), rare book expert Hanna Heath journeys to Bosnia where she is charged with conserving the Sarajevo Haggadah, a fourteenth-century Jewish prayer book used in Passover worship. Saved by a courageous Muslim librarian during the Bosnian war, the Sarajevo Haggadah is unique in that it is a rare example of an illuminated Jewish manuscript. In performing her analysis, Hanna discovers clues preserved within the book's sacred pages that shed light on its provenance-a wine stain, an insect wing, a white hair, a saltwater stain, and a set of holes in the book's cover which indicate a pair of missing clasps. Brooks alternates chapters between Hanna's work of deciphering and connecting the forensic information contained in the book with passages that travel both far and near into the Haggadah's past. From pre-World War II Bosnia to fifteenth century Spain, the reader is drawn into an intricate web of human history in which people of different faiths-Jewish, Christian, and Muslim alike-struggle to preserve the sacred text of a single religion. History buffs will appreciate that Brooks' storyline is adapted from the historical wanderings of the real Sarajevo Haggadah. Other great books for bibliophiles (and history lovers alike) include The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, and The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.
Recommended by Morgan Miller