5 Favorite WWII-Era Books

Posted August 24, 2020 by shooting in Discussion / 23 Comments

*purchase links are affiliate links; I get a small percent at no extra cost to you. Traitor was a review book; all opinions are my own*

I don’t read a ton of historical books, but when I do, it’s often books that are set during or around WWII. I find this time period fascinating. So many horrific things occurred, and it happened to people in many countries. I appreciate authors that dive into this time period (or share their real life stories), and therefore, I thought I would share my top favorite WWII books, both fiction and nonfiction.

5 Favorite WWII-Era Books

One: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief is narrated by Death, which just makes it that much more unique, and that much more devastating, to read. The book follows Liesel, a young girl who steals books. This is one of those books that really needs to be read by all. It’s technically YA fiction, but it is very much a book that adults can read and enjoy.

Two: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity is one of my favorite books in general – not just in terms of WWII-era stories. This is the story of a girl captured and interrogated by Nazis after a British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France.  This book shows you the true strength that many, young and old, men and women, had during the years of WWII.

Three: Night by Elie Wiesel

Night isn’t a very long book, but it packs a punch. This is the autobiography of Elie Wiesel’s time in the Nazi death camps. When people think of WWII, it’s often synonymous with the Holocaust. I appreciate Wiesel’s bravery to not only survive but to share his story afterwards. This is a book that I read in high school and it’s not something that any reader is likely to forget.

Four: Traitor by Amanda McCrina

Traitor follows Tolya and Solovey, two young men dealing with a war they were essentially forced into. McCrina’s novel shines a light on Polish and Ukrainian soldiers, focusing on an aspect of WWII that I didn’t know anything about. This book definitely gives new meanings to the word “traitor.” Traitor is the newest book on the list, and it happens to be one of my last 5-star reads.

Five: The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

Maus I and II are graphic novels that depict the Holocaust. Spiegelman is sharing his father’s personal story in this graphic memoir, and it’s wonderfully and imaginatively done. In the books, Jews are shown as mice and Nazis are drawn as cats. Other groups and countries are therefore depicted as different animals, but I’ll let you read these books to find out how. Using animals puts readers at a slight distance from these characters, while at the same time, it allows the emotions and danger to come to the forefront. After all, who wouldn’t root for a little mouse when being attacked by a menacing cat? I read The Complete Maus in college, and I think it’s about time for a re-read.


There are obviously many more books that focus on various aspects of WWII and the Holocaust. Some are fiction, some are nonfiction, and others are even memoirs. For now, I’d love to know what books you would recommend. Have you read any of the above, or do you want to? I have many books on my wish list that I hope to get to someday soon, so I’d love to see if you loved any of them (I might need to push them up on my list).

23 responses to “5 Favorite WWII-Era Books

  1. Night is a classic! And I just recently read about Maus for the first time. I don’t normally read graphic novels, but there are a few I want to try now, having read and loved Persepolis and Good Talk (that and Monstress are two that have caught my attention).

  2. I have not read a lot of WWII books, but I know all of these. I did read The Nightingale, which I LOVED! I grew up with a lot of WWII stories as I have many family members fighting in the war

  3. I’ve heard good things about The Book Thief and Code Name Verity. I’d have to gear up to read either one of those as I hear they’re emotional reads. I do like learning more about the era, though.

  4. WWII is such a fascinating yet devastating era isn’t it, I really enjoy books surrounding WWII and the French Revolution in particular. I still haven’t read The Book Thief, it’s such a weighty book that so many readers have loved and its become intimidating. I’ve been really enjoying reading again since giving bookstagram the flick, so I might add it to my reading list for next month. Wish me luck!

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  5. I really need to read Maus. I’ve read Night. And I tried to read The Book Thief but I don’t think I was in the right headspace. I need to pick that one up again!

  6. I loved The Book Thief and Night is such a classic. I also loved The Nightingale, as well as All the Light We Cannot see–those are some of my favorite WWII books. I have Code Name Verity on my TBR!

  7. I love historical fiction, so I’ve read almost all of these. The Book Thief is one of my favorite books ever. I still need to read Maus. I haven’t been able to find a cheap used copy of it at a time when I have money.

  8. Dorothy Boucher

    Great selection of books here and although I don’t read a lot of war books , I do take a chance on a few of them usually a few times a years. Will have to check these out and great prices.

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