Reading the War: 10 Novels Tell the Stories of WWII

June 5 2014

From the front lines to the home front, there are as many stories written about WWII as there were stories lived. This is a sample of books that manage to slow the hurlyburly of war to strings of single moments that tell individual stories  as unique as they are universal. Through the moments of these character’s lives you get the sweeping story of a war that changed the world.

The Very Thought Of You
by Rosie Alison

England, 31st August 1939: Thousands of children are evacuated from London to escape the impending Blitz. Torn from her mother, eight-year-old Anna Sands is sent to a large Yorkshire estate, the home of The Ashtons, an enigmatic, childless couple. Soon Anna gets drawn into their unraveling relationship, seeing things she should not and finding herself part-witness and part-accomplice to a love affair with unforeseen consequences. A story of longing, loss, and complicated loyalties, combining a sweeping narrative with subtle psychological observation, this is not just a love story but a story about love.

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The Very Thought Of You
Rosie Alison

England, 31st August 1939: Thousands of children are evacuated from London to escape the impending Blitz. Torn from her mother, eight-year-old Anna Sands is sent to a large Yorkshire estate, the home of The Ashtons, an enigmatic, childless couple. Soon Anna gets drawn into their unraveling relationship, seeing things she should not and finding herself part-witness and part-accomplice to a love affair with unforeseen consequences. A story of longing, loss, and complicated loyalties, combining a sweeping narrative with subtle psychological observation, this is not just a love story but a story about love.

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books We Escaped Into This November

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 30, 2020

A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

By Holly Claytor | November 27, 2020

10 Family Novels as Warm and Fuzzy as Your Favorite Sweater

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 26, 2020

Readers’ Choice: The 10 Best Book Recommendations You’ve Ever Received

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

5 Workplace Thrillers to Make You Miss Your Office (or Not!)

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 24, 2020

20 Life-Changing Books We’re Gifting to Everyone We Love This Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 23, 2020

Close
The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who 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.

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The Book Thief
Markus Zusak

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who 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.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books We Escaped Into This November

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 30, 2020

A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

By Holly Claytor | November 27, 2020

10 Family Novels as Warm and Fuzzy as Your Favorite Sweater

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 26, 2020

Readers’ Choice: The 10 Best Book Recommendations You’ve Ever Received

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

5 Workplace Thrillers to Make You Miss Your Office (or Not!)

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 24, 2020

20 Life-Changing Books We’re Gifting to Everyone We Love This Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 23, 2020

Close
Catch-22
by Joseph Heller

The classic satire is the story of Captain John Yossarian who, hoping to escape deadly combat flights, must struggle with the equally deadly bureaucracy of the Army: a man is considered insane if he is willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.

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Catch-22
Joseph Heller

The classic satire is the story of Captain John Yossarian who, hoping to escape deadly combat flights, must struggle with the equally deadly bureaucracy of the Army: a man is considered insane if he is willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo

MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books We Escaped Into This November

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 30, 2020

A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

By Holly Claytor | November 27, 2020

10 Family Novels as Warm and Fuzzy as Your Favorite Sweater

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 26, 2020

Readers’ Choice: The 10 Best Book Recommendations You’ve Ever Received

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

5 Workplace Thrillers to Make You Miss Your Office (or Not!)

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 24, 2020

20 Life-Changing Books We’re Gifting to Everyone We Love This Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 23, 2020

Close
Slaughterhouse-Five
by Kurt Vonnegut

The absurdist tale of Billy Pilgrim -- an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden -- and his odyssey through time has become a classic of anti-war fiction and reading lists everywhere.

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Slaughterhouse-Five
Kurt Vonnegut

The absurdist tale of Billy Pilgrim -- an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden -- and his odyssey through time has become a classic of anti-war fiction and reading lists everywhere.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books We Escaped Into This November

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 30, 2020

A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

By Holly Claytor | November 27, 2020

10 Family Novels as Warm and Fuzzy as Your Favorite Sweater

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 26, 2020

Readers’ Choice: The 10 Best Book Recommendations You’ve Ever Received

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

5 Workplace Thrillers to Make You Miss Your Office (or Not!)

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 24, 2020

20 Life-Changing Books We’re Gifting to Everyone We Love This Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 23, 2020

Close
Schindler's List
by Thomas Keneally

A stunning novel based on the true story of how German war profiteer and factory director Oskar Schindler came to save more Jews from the gas chambers than any other single person during World War II. Keneally used the actual testimony of the Schindlerjuden—Schindler’s Jews—to brilliantly portray the courage and cunning of a man choosing to do good in the midst of unspeakable evil.

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Schindler's List
Thomas Keneally

A stunning novel based on the true story of how German war profiteer and factory director Oskar Schindler came to save more Jews from the gas chambers than any other single person during World War II. Keneally used the actual testimony of the Schindlerjuden—Schindler’s Jews—to brilliantly portray the courage and cunning of a man choosing to do good in the midst of unspeakable evil.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo

MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books We Escaped Into This November

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 30, 2020

A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

By Holly Claytor | November 27, 2020

10 Family Novels as Warm and Fuzzy as Your Favorite Sweater

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 26, 2020

Readers’ Choice: The 10 Best Book Recommendations You’ve Ever Received

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

5 Workplace Thrillers to Make You Miss Your Office (or Not!)

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 24, 2020

20 Life-Changing Books We’re Gifting to Everyone We Love This Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 23, 2020

Close
Gone to Soldiers
by Marge Piercy

In a stunning tour-de-force, Marge Piercy has woven a tapestry of World War II, of six women and four men, who fought and died, worked and worried, and moved through the dizzying days of the war. An unforgettable reading experience and a stirring tribute to the remarkable survival of the human spirit.

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Gone to Soldiers
Marge Piercy

“More than 750 pages long, GONE TO SOLDIERS can definitely be intimidating, and I knew when I picked up this novel that it would need to be extraordinary in order to hold my attention for a few weeks. Thankfully, I was not disappointed.”

Read Erin Flaaen’s review here.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo

MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books We Escaped Into This November

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 30, 2020

A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

By Holly Claytor | November 27, 2020

10 Family Novels as Warm and Fuzzy as Your Favorite Sweater

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 26, 2020

Readers’ Choice: The 10 Best Book Recommendations You’ve Ever Received

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

5 Workplace Thrillers to Make You Miss Your Office (or Not!)

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 24, 2020

20 Life-Changing Books We’re Gifting to Everyone We Love This Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 23, 2020

Close
Corelli's Mandolin
by Louis de Bernieres

Pelagia, a willful, beautiful young woman is caught between two suitors vying for her love: Mandras, a gentle Greek fisherman turned ruthless guerilla, and the charming, mandolin-playing Captain Corelli, a reluctant officer of the Italian garrison on the island. Rich with loyalties and betrayals, and set against a landscape where the factual blends seamlessly with the fantastic, this is a passionate novel as rich in ideas as it is genuinely moving.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Corelli's Mandolin
Louis de Bernieres

Pelagia, a willful, beautiful young woman is caught between two suitors vying for her love: Mandras, a gentle Greek fisherman turned ruthless guerilla, and the charming, mandolin-playing Captain Corelli, a reluctant officer of the Italian garrison on the island. Rich with loyalties and betrayals, and set against a landscape where the factual blends seamlessly with the fantastic, this is a passionate novel as rich in ideas as it is genuinely moving.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books We Escaped Into This November

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 30, 2020

A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

By Holly Claytor | November 27, 2020

10 Family Novels as Warm and Fuzzy as Your Favorite Sweater

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 26, 2020

Readers’ Choice: The 10 Best Book Recommendations You’ve Ever Received

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

5 Workplace Thrillers to Make You Miss Your Office (or Not!)

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 24, 2020

20 Life-Changing Books We’re Gifting to Everyone We Love This Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 23, 2020

Close
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Mary Ann Shaffer

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books We Escaped Into This November

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 30, 2020

A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

By Holly Claytor | November 27, 2020

10 Family Novels as Warm and Fuzzy as Your Favorite Sweater

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 26, 2020

Readers’ Choice: The 10 Best Book Recommendations You’ve Ever Received

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

5 Workplace Thrillers to Make You Miss Your Office (or Not!)

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 24, 2020

20 Life-Changing Books We’re Gifting to Everyone We Love This Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 23, 2020

Close
The Winds of War
by Herman Wouk

Herman Wouk's sweeping epic of World War II, which begins with The Winds of War and continues in War and Remembrance, stands as the crowning achievement of one of America's most celebrated storytellers. Like no other books about the war, Wouk's spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events - and all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of World War II - as it immerses us in the lives of a single American family drawn into the very center of the war's maelstrom.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
The Winds of War
Herman Wouk

Herman Wouk's sweeping epic of World War II, which begins with The Winds of War and continues in War and Remembrance, stands as the crowning achievement of one of America's most celebrated storytellers. Like no other books about the war, Wouk's spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events - and all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of World War II - as it immerses us in the lives of a single American family drawn into the very center of the war's maelstrom.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books We Escaped Into This November

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 30, 2020

A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

By Holly Claytor | November 27, 2020

10 Family Novels as Warm and Fuzzy as Your Favorite Sweater

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 26, 2020

Readers’ Choice: The 10 Best Book Recommendations You’ve Ever Received

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

5 Workplace Thrillers to Make You Miss Your Office (or Not!)

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 24, 2020

20 Life-Changing Books We’re Gifting to Everyone We Love This Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 23, 2020

Close
Suite Française
by Irène Némirovsky

As Parisians feel the city on the eve of the Nazi occupation, human folly surfaces in every imaginable way: a wealthy mother searches for sweets in a town without food; a couple is terrified at the thought of losing their jobs, even as their world begins to fall apart and in a provincial village, occupied by German soldiers, the locals must learn to coexist with the enemy—in their town, their homes, even in their hearts. After she was deported to Auschwitz, where she died, Irène Némirovsky brilliant book was hidden for sixty-four years.

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Suite Française
Irène Némirovsky

As Parisians feel the city on the eve of the Nazi occupation, human folly surfaces in every imaginable way: a wealthy mother searches for sweets in a town without food; a couple is terrified at the thought of losing their jobs, even as their world begins to fall apart and in a provincial village, occupied by German soldiers, the locals must learn to coexist with the enemy—in their town, their homes, even in their hearts. After she was deported to Auschwitz, where she died, Irène Némirovsky brilliant book was hidden for sixty-four years.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books We Escaped Into This November

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 30, 2020

A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

By Holly Claytor | November 27, 2020

10 Family Novels as Warm and Fuzzy as Your Favorite Sweater

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 26, 2020

Readers’ Choice: The 10 Best Book Recommendations You’ve Ever Received

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

5 Workplace Thrillers to Make You Miss Your Office (or Not!)

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 24, 2020

20 Life-Changing Books We’re Gifting to Everyone We Love This Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 23, 2020

Close

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