5 Objects Through Time

How can an object change or affect lives? Follow the provenance of these items to find out.


The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Object: a powerful, magical ring.
Who it affects: the lives of everyone in Middle Earth, from humble hobbits to powerful wizards, are all drawn to the power of the one true ring with devastating consequences.
Explore more fantasy novels.


People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.
Object: a six-hundred-year-old Jewish prayer book.
Who it affects: a young archivist tasked with discovering the book's history based off small artifacts found inside the book (like a wine stain and an insect wing). A second story shows the book's place in five different time periods from 1480 to 1940.
Discover novels that blend historical fiction and art.


The Painted Drum by Louise Erdich.
Object: an Ojibwe drum.
Who it affects: An estate valuer finds a rare moose and cedar drum and begins tracing the drum's three-generational Ojibwe history.
Explore more historical fiction.


The Firebird by Susannah Kearsley.
Object: a small carved wooden bird.
Who it affects: A young woman has the gift of touching an object to see its past, and this small wooden bird—the Firebird—is from the doomed Russian court.
Explore magical realism books.


The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.
Object: a tree.
Who it affects: A tree watches a young boy grow up and reflects on life and giving in this classic parable.
Discover thankful-themed picture books.


BONUS: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.
Object Animal: a horse.
Who it affects: Black Beauty narrates the story of his life, from a loving upbringing until circumstances change for the worse, Black Beauty sees every side of human nature.
Explore more animal books.

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