Thursday, 10 October 2013

Recommendations: World War 2 Books

So I seem to go through phases of being addicted to a certain kind of book, whether it be the genre or the setting or the subject matter. The phase I'm in now? World War 2 books (well, books set during wars in general, WW2 just seems to be the most common one).

The thing I've found recently is that I love seeing sides of the war we don't hear about as often, and I wish there were more YA type books that explored that.

I don't know what it is about books set during wars that I love so much. It might be the historical aspect, it might just be a morbid fascination with the subject matter. Or it might be that I like how it shows the best and worst of humanity and that everything is done to extremes--because war makes thing's life or death, people take things for granted a lot less, they love harder...and I like that. Maybe it's all of those things. Or maybe it can be summed up in a picture:

...Basically. =P

This post is pretty much just to recommend/talk about some books set during wars that I've read in the past year, and some that are in my TBR pile or on my wish list. If you've read any of them or can think of any good ones I haven't mentioned (especially about other wars, like the Vietnam war), let me know in the comments.

As with most books I read, I do like them to have some romance in them but there's exceptions on the lists and even when it's present, I'm cool with it being a very minor subplot.

Books I've Read:

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons - This is one of my favourites. It's set in Russia during the Seige of Leningrad in World War 2 and it's heartbreaking and it's a side of the war we (or I) don't hear about often.

Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein -  Code Name Verity is fantastic, if you stick with it through the slow start, it's so worth it in the end. Rose Under Fire is the companion novel, and it's good although not quite as wow as Code Name Verity was for me. CNV is set in the UK and France, RUF is set in the UK, Germany, and France a little bit. They both have female pilots and spies.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys - An older one, but one of my favourite books. It's set during World War 2 and is about the Soviet deportations of people from the Baltic states. The main character is a Lithuanian girl.

The Things We Did for Love by Natasha Farrant - This one is set in German occupied France during World War 2, and it wasn't amazing but the ending made me love it. It was really heartbreaking and the story is actually inspired by what happened to a real town.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank - This is one I want to reread, and there's not much I need to say about it because most people know who Anne Frank is (also, I'm not sure if the version I originally read was the full version, or the abridged version). If you haven't read her diary yet, I really recommend it.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - Another of my favourite books ever. It's set in Germany during WW2 and is narrated by Death and it's so unique and beautiful and heartbreaking and the writing is lovely. It can be a bit slow to get through, but it's so, so worth it in the end and the brilliant writing makes the slowness totally fine.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini - Okay, this one is a bit different because it's not set during WW2, but the story goes from the 1960's all the way up to 2003 in Afghanistan so it does have some wars in it. It's another of my favourite books, the love story is just...*melts* and the characters are great and I loved the bond that develops between Mariam and Laila.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini - I'm kind of cheating putting this one on the list because I've only read the graphic novel and seen the movie (but I have started reading the novel). Like A Thousand Splendid Suns, it's not set during WW2, but it does have all those war elements because it has stuff like the Soviet military intervention and the Taliban regime and all that.

That Burning Summer by Lydia Syson - This was one I was sent to review recently. It was a good book, not amazing, but worth a read. It's set in England during WW2 and is about a girl and her brother who hide a Polish pilot whose plane crashes where they live.

Books in my TBR pile (ones that I already own):

The Siege by Helen Dunmore - This is one I bought after reading The Bronze Horseman and I was looking for more books set in Russia during World War 2. Pretty sure this is another one set in Leningrad during the seige.

Stay Where You Are and Then Leave by John Boyne - I was sent this one to review, and it's not one I would've picked up on my own but it sounds interesting. I think this one is set during the first world war, and it's by the same dude who wrote The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

A Little Love Song by Michelle Magorian - I hadn't heard of this one until the publicist who sent me That Burning Summer mentioned it. I think it's a YA love story set during WW2. It's from the same author who wrote Good Night, Mr Tom (which I read in school but don't remember much about--another war book I need to reread at some point).

A World Between Us by Lydia Syson - I think this one is a love story set during the Spanish Civil War. While I didn't love the authors other book (That Burning Summer), I do want to check this one out.

Song for Katya by Kevin Stevens - Love story between an American musician and a Russian woman set in Moscow during the Cold War.

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway - Don't know much about this one, except that it's set during the seige of Sarajevo.

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen - I didn't even realise this one was set during a war, I think I bought it based on the title thinking it was a fairytale retelling (I think it might be?), but Julie said it's set during world war 2 (I think it actually is a Sleeping Beauty retelling that is also a Holocaust story?).

Annexed by Sharon Dogar - This one is odd...while Anne Franks diary is true and written by her own hand, this one is a fictionalised version of the same story told from the perspective of Peter (whose family was hidden with Anne's). I'm not sure how I feel about that really, whether I think it's disrespectful or not, but I want to read it anyway (honestly, the only reason I haven't read it yet is because the book is printed on paper that feels chalky and I have a phobia of chalk so touching it makes me want to cry).

Ones I want to read but don't have yet:

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay - Set in Paris during world war 2. A few youtubers recommended this one and it sounds interesting.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne - I want to read this...and I don't. I'm kind of dreading it because I've seen the movie and know how sad the story is.

Violins of Autumn by Amy McAuley - I think this is about an American girl who works as a British spy for the Resistance in France during world war 2? Maybe? And there is romance? Not sure (I think this is one Julie mentioned--I've not properly read up on it yet).

The Devils Arithmetic by Jane Yolen - I think this is a time travel Holocaust story? Not 100% sure. I know there's a movie based on the book though.

Night by Elie Wiesel - I think this is a Holocaust story. I've seen this talked about a lot.

Schindler's List (a.k.a. Schindler's Ark) by Thomas Keneally - The story and the movie are fantastic, so I hope the book is just as good. It's the true story of Oskar Schindler, a German who saved 1200 Jews from concentration camps in Germany and Poland.

And there's a few goodreads lists I want to go through and see if any sound interesting too (particularly this list, because of the romance thing).

If anyone actually read this post, do you go through phases of craving a certain setting/genre/subject matter in books? And are there any books set during wars that you would recommend (mentioned in this post or not)?


1 comment:

  1. Historical fiction, namely war books, are on the top of my list. I've always been really fascinated with war books for some reason. My absolute favourites are The Book Thief, Code Name Verity, and Between Shades of Gray. All of them are on my list of all time favourite books. I've also read Rose Under Fire (liked it but not as stunning as Code Name V.) Oh, and Anne Frank! Her diary is so powerful and moving. I've read it a couple times (but only read the full thing once). I recently bought the full, completely unabridged version and I'm really excited to read it because the one I owned before was the abridged version. Anyway, I'm so glad you posted this list because I finally found someone who shares my love for war books and I have so many to add to my TBR!!



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