Historical Fiction is probably my favourite genre- specifically WWII fiction. I think a lot of people can relate to my fascination with this time period so I thought it might be a good idea to recommend some of my favourites. They are all so beautifully written, and truly heartbreaking. I teared up reading every single one of the books I am going to mention. I am always looking for more books written during this time period so I would love to know your favourites!
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak– It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank– Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has since become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit.
In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annexe” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death.
In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and amusing, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay– Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is taken with her parents by the French police as they go door-to-door arresting French families in the middle of the night. Desperate to protect her younger brother, Sarah locks him in a bedroom cupboard-their secret hiding place-and promises to come back for him as soon as they are released.
Sixty Years Later: Sarah’s story intertwines with that of Julia Jarmond, an American journalist investigating the roundup. In her research, Julia stumbles onto a trail of secrets that link her to Sarah, and to questions about her own romantic future.
Night by Elie Wiesel– Night is Elie Wiesel’s masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. This new translation by Marion Wiesel, Elie’s wife and frequent translator, presents this seminal memoir in the language and spirit truest to the author’s original intent. And in a substantive new preface, Elie reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man’s capacity for inhumanity to man.
Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne– Berlin, 1942 : When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move to a new house far, far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people in the distance.
But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different from his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.
I wanted to take this opportunity to show you two books that my parents were nice enough to have signed for me when they visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington. These books are written by two brothers who survived the Holocaust and I am so honoured to own them!
There are so many more books that I could recommend so I might do a part 2 in the future. Have you read any of these books? What did you think?
39 thoughts on “Favourite WWII Fiction”
Hello lovely, I recommended your blog on my most recent post! https://thebeautyofreading.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/the-blogger-recognition-award/ 🙂 x
That is so sweet! Thank you!! 😊
Book Thief is so beautiful! I also love The Nightingale and All the Light We Cannot See, I’m looking forward to reading Shades of Gray.
I almost put All the Light We Cannot See on this list! It will most likely be in part two!
The Nightingale is on my August TBR! Can’t wait! 😀
I can’t wait to see part two as I loved all of these ones! A few of my favourites also include The Nightingale, All The Light We Cannot See, and To See You Again which is a memoir.
Thank you! I am reading The Nightingale in August and I am so excited for it! I have not heard of To See You Again so that is awesome! Thanks for the recommendation!
No problem! I hope you enjoy both of them!!
Great post! I’ve read most of these myself and highly recommend them. I also am a huge fan of WWII fiction. Have you read The Bronze Horseman? It’s another great read from this period. -Ashley
I have heard great things about The Bronze Horseman. Thanks for reminding me about it!!
You’re very welcome!
There’s a book coming out called Among the Red Stars. That one is probably my new fav! Love this post BTW!
The only book I have read on this list is The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (I cried so much at the ending). I really want to read The Book Thief, and The Diary of Anne Frank too.
Thanks Em! That book is so heartbreaking!!
I think you will really enjoy both books. I have such a soft spot for Anne!
Great t post I love the Book Thief and Anne Frank’s Diary was so heartbreaking to read.
Thank you! They are always so heart breaking. Don’t know why I gravitate towards books like that?
Same for some reason the more tragic a book sounds the more I want to read it.
Fantastic post! I also love WWII fiction. All The Light We Cannot See and The Night Watch by Sarah Waters are two of my favorites. Also, not a book, but have you seen Dunkirk? I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I saw it this weekend, it was so intense and devastating. I absolutely loved it.
Thank you! I have not read The Night Watch! Thank you for the recommendation! I am dying to see Dunkirk! I am on vacation and there is no movie theater! It is torture. Can’t wait to see it!
Ahhh no that’s torture! I can’t wait for you to see it!!!
Great post! I’m already writing your part 2 in my mind… All the Light we Cannot See, Life after Life, the Nightingale, Unbroken… So much great literature during this period, but also super intense. I can’t read these kind of novels back to back. I need some lightness in between.
Thank you! I am reading the Nightingale this month! I never read the synopsis for Life After Life. Didn’t even realize it was about WWII!! I definitely can’t read these books one after the another. Too sad!
Okay, I really love this post! I read Anne Frank in school. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and The Book Thief are on my TBR!
Thank you!! Have a box of tissues ready for both of those books!
Thanks! I figured I would need them! <3
Having seen Dunkirk recently, I have a hankering for reading for some WWII Historical Fiction. This post couldn’t be better timed 🙂
I have been wanting to see Dunkirk so badly! Maybe that is why I was inspired to write this and I didn’t even know it!
My review is up Thursday 😉
Haha very probably (is ‘very probably’ a correct phrase?) It is a masterpiece as the critics say!
Great post! I would add Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein to this list. I loved both of those books.
I haven’t read either of those! Definitely adding them to my TBR! Thank you!
Wonderful choices!! Book Thief, Anne Frank and Boy in striped pajamas are all amazing books!! I’ve not read the other two, but I want to check them out now.
Thank you! I hope you read them and love them as much as I did!
YES to all of these. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and The Book Thief are both so well-written and heartbreaking. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous choices! <3
Thank you Zoe! Just thinking about those two books can break my heart!
TBISP is such a moving and heartbreaking read. I couldn’t sleep the entire night because I was so depressed!!
I know! I can’t even bring myself to watch the movie!
Oh I watched it with my mom and although I didn’t cry, she was crying rivers! It was probably even more depressing because the characters had already become so known from the book that watching the boys in the movie felt like someone I already knew. You get what I’m saying?
I totally get that! You get more attached to the characters because you feel like you already have a connection to them from reading the book!