Book Recommendations: Stories Set in WWII

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

One of my favorite genres to read is historical fiction, specifically one that is set during the World War II era. I think this time in our history is such an important one, as it altered our world in many ways. I also think that there are just so many stories from different perspectives that are left to tell and that deserve to be told. If you are like me who have a special place for stories set during this time, here are some fictional novels (and movie) that I HIGHLY recommend. 

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
    I sound like a total broken record including this book in here, because I feel like I've included it in all the lists I make. It makes it on this list though, deservedly so, as it is just a great story about ordinary people living during this horrific time. It is beautifully written and features such memorable characters that readers will fall in love with. It also is pretty unique as it's told through the point of view of 'Death.' 
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
    This book is one of my favorite books now, as it's just perfect. It has gorgeous writing and effortless storytelling from the author, and has unforgettable characters. It's honest and unflinching, a beautiful fiction at its finest. Read my review here.
  • Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
    I read this a few years ago, but I still remember how it made me feel. This is told through the point of view of German civilians, as the war and its effects surround them. I particularly loved the narration in this one. 
  • Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky*
    This one has a special place in my heart. It tells the stories of the French people during the Nazi occupation. *What's even more special is who it's written by: Irene Nemirovsky. She was a successful writer living in Paris, but at the start of the war, she and her family had to flee and hide because of their Jewish parentage. While hiding, she completed the first part of this book, but she was captured by the German SS and was sent to a concentration camp where she was executed. Her children hid her manuscript and sixty years later, one of her daughters took it to a publisher. The translator simply translated and edited her work, creating this profound story. A must read for sure!
  • Schindler's List (film)
    This would be a time when I would recommend seeing the movie more than reading the book. I did read the book that the famous film was based on, but I have to say that this adaptation was something else entirely. It will always be a heartbreaking must-watch movie, and that theme score by John Williams will forever haunt me. 
And with that, let me leave you with that very theme from the movie.


Let me know if you have any more books, fiction or non-fiction, to add to this list, or if you have any book recommendations set during this time that you think I should try out. I am always looking for more beautifully told stories. 








16 comments:

  1. I like reading books set on WWII era too; though they always make it so hard to read given the topic. One of my favourites is Alphabet House by Jussi Alder-Olsen; set in WWII Germany. It's an intense thriller.

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    1. It's definitely not easy to read! And I haven't read Alphabet House - thank you for recommending it.

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  2. I think I mentioned in another post, but there's a new book by Sara Gruen called At the Water's Edge that's set in WWII. I haven't read it yet, but I loved Water for Elephants and am hoping it's good.

    I honestly never really enjoyed historical fiction until I read The Nightingale, and a few novels by Sarah Jio. Both authors made me see the genre in a new light, and I'm slowly starting to read more books in that era. I have several on my TBR list. I should probably try The Book Thief, since I'm most likely the last person in the world to read it.

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    1. I also liked Water for Elephants. Maybe I'll try At the Water's Edge if it goes on sale or something.

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  3. I keep hearing how incredible The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is - I need to check it out!

    Thanks for the recommendations!

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  4. My book club and I joke about historical fiction set in WWII as is seemed over half the books we chose one year were set in WWII! But, I agree with you. There are so many varied and rich stories that can be told in that time period. One that I just read this past fall is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

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    1. I started All The Light We Cannot See but am not sure about it! It has such a unique style, it's hard for me to get into it. I know I will read all of it sooner or later though. Thank you for the recommendation.

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  5. This is a great list, Jillian! Those Who Save Us has been on my wish list for way too long, and Suite Francaise is an all-time favorite.

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    1. Thank you, JoAnn. You'll definitely like Those Who Save Us!

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  6. Oh, I really enjoyed Those Who Save Us. It never leaves the mind. Have Schindler's List to read someday.

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  7. I loved The Book Thief (one of my favorites) and The Nightingale which I just recently read. I still need to read Those Who Save Us and Suite Francaise. They both sound really good, especially Suite Francaise. I remember when it was first published and I believe there is another book coming out this month, The Fires of Autumn.

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    1. oohh thanks for the heads up about that, I just looked it up and it looks great! I haven't heard of it before but I will read anything from Nemirovsky.

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  8. I loved the Butterfly and the Violin, it was so touching and so memorable. 'Between Shades of Gray' was an interesting WWII book because it wasn't about Jews or the Nazis but rather about Lithuanians and the Russians who persecuted them during this time period.

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    1. I have read Between Shades of Gray and loved the writing for that one! I also really like different perspectives as well, since like mentioned by everyone, so many people were affected by that time.

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  9. I really enjoy WWII novels, and anything historically based. The Nightengale has caught my eye!

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  10. Like you, I have such a love for Suite Fran├žaise and the story behind its publication. Just finished City of Women, set in WW2 Berlin and loved, loved it.

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