Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Read If You’re a WW2 History Buff

Posted April 12, 2016 by meezcarrie in Corrie Ten Boom, Elizabeth Byler Younts, historical, Irma Joubert, Jamie Ford, Kate Breslin, Kristy Cambron, Sarah Sundin, Top Ten Tuesday, Tracy Groot / 79 Comments

Top Ten Tuesday Favorite

Hi Y’all! Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday 🙂 This week’s topic is officially “Books that every (fill in the blank) needs to read”. I’m excited to see what everyone posts and I hope we get a variety of themes! I’m going with “books that every WW2 history buff needs to read” because a) it’s one of my favorite times in history to read about – there really was HOPE in spite of the darkness … and b) I could recommend books in this category all day long and never run out.  So many fantastic novels and memoirs and nonfiction accounts out there to choose from! 🙂ww2 must reads

I’ve divided the list into two categories (and then further within each category). Mainly because no matter how many fantastic books I’ve found, there are still so many others that people have recommended to me. People I trust.

Let’s start out with the ones I’ve read and loved and will force you to read if you give me the opportunity 😉

Note: These are not all Christian fiction, but most are. Several are nonfiction, and a couple are general market novels. 

must reads per me

hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet  flame of resistance  girl from the train

1.  Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart. (Goodreads)

2.Flame of Resistance by Tracy Groot

(2013 Christy Award Winner!)

Years of Nazi occupation have stolen much from Brigitte Durand. Family. Freedom. Hope for a future, especially for a woman with a past like hers. But that changes the day American fighter pilot Tom Jaeger is shot down over occupied France. Picked up by the Resistance, Tom becomes the linchpin in their plan to infiltrate a Germans-only brothel and get critical intel out through Brigitte, a prostitute rumored to be sympathetic to the Allied cause. (Goodreads)

3.The Girl From The Train by Irma Joubert

Rich with history and humanity, The Girl From The Train will replace dates and facts with faces and heartbeats to make the events come alive in your spirit. I learned much I did not know about Poland in the years during and after WW2, as well as about South Africa and the German orphan initiative there. But woven vividly through all the information were the people – the reason I could not put down the book, the reason my heart became so involved in the reading and in the outcome. Read more of my review.

the hiding place  girls of atomic city  diary of anne frank

4.The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

At one time Corrie ten Boom would have laughed at the Idea that there would ever be a story to tell. For the first fifty years of her life nothing at all out of the ordinary had ever happened to her. She was an old-maid watchmaker living contentedly with her spinster sister and their elderly father in the tiny Dutch house over their shop. Their uneventful days, as regulated as their own watches, revolved around their abiding love for one another. However, with the Nazi invasion and occupation of Holland, a story did ensue. (Goodreads)

This memoir is hands-down one of my all-time favorite books.

5.The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan

The incredible story of the young women of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, who unwittingly played a crucial role in one of grandma booththe most significant moments in U.S. history. The Tennessee town of Oak Ridge was created from scratch in 1942. One of the Manhattan Project’s secret cities, it didn’t appear on any maps until 1949, and yet at the height of World War II it was using more electricity than New York City and was home to more than 75,000 people, many of them young women recruited from small towns across the South. Their jobs were shrouded in mystery, but they were buoyed by a sense of shared purpose, close friendships—and a surplus of handsome scientists and Army men! (Goodreads)

As a personal bonus… my grandparents both lived and worked in Oak Ridge during the time of – and related to – the events discussed in this book. I grew up hearing these stories and they have always fascinated me! As an even bonusier bonus, my grandmother is on the cover. Can you spot her? 🙂

6.Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

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 Annex” of an old office building. 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. (Goodreads)

Note: Can I just put my teacher hat on for a moment and emphasize that The Diary of Anne Frank is NOT historical fiction?!? It is real. It happened. It is her actual diary of her actual experiences while she was actually hiding for her life. I saw a couple of blog posts about this book lately that seemed to lump it in with historical fiction and I just…. I can’t even. I couldn’t post it here without making sure we all understand that it is indeed NONFICTION. (Whew. I feel better now lol)

  for such a time  the butterfly and the violin  promise to return

7.For Such a Time by Kate Breslin

One of the best fiction books I have read about the Holocaust – its horrors and its humanity. The parallels between this novel & the biblical story of Esther are so beautifully done that it has earned a spot on my favorites list!!!
For Such A Time will paint a stark picture of the atrocities and impossible choices faced by the Jewish people during the Holocaust. The biblical book of Esther has always been one of my favorites and it is also one I have studied in great depth; Kate Breslin did an exquisite job of adding a more modern twist to its retelling. (Read more)

8.The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

A Mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz–and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan. Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl–a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes. (Goodreads)

The second book is a must-read too – A Sparrow in Terezin

9.Promise to Return by Elizabeth Byler Younts

It’s 1943 and Miriam Coblentz and Henry Mast are nearing their wedding day when the unthinkable happens—Henry is drafted. However, since he is a part of the pacifist Amish tradition, Henry is sent to a conscientious objector Civilian Public Service camp. When he leaves for the work camp, his gaping absence turns Miriam’s life upside down. Little does she know that it’s only the beginning… Two worlds collide in this unforgettable debut novel, providing a fascinating and rare look into Amish culture during World War II. (Goodreads)

The rest of the series are must-reads as well!

Promise to Cherish

Promise to Keep

a distant melody  with every letter  through waters deep

10. Sarah Sundin

No discussion of WW2 must-reads would be complete without mentioning Sarah Sundin! I’ve included the covers for the first books in each of her series – clicking on these covers will take you to Amazon.  I’ve also listed the series below with a link to their Goodreads pages.

Wings of Glory series

Wings of the Nightingale series

Waves of Freedom series

must reads i need to read

Believe it or not, I have NOT in fact read every book yet. 😉 Here are some of the WW2-related books most recommended to me by people I trust! (Specifically Marisa Deshaies lol)

secrets she kept  saving amelie  sarah's key

Code Name Verity  friends and enemies  where treetops glisten

bridge of scarlet leaves  letters from home  thief of glory

 the nightingale  shadowed by grace  guernsey literary and potato peel pie society

I would also love it if you followed my #WeRead…WW2 board on Pinterest 🙂

Follow Reading Is My SuperPower’s board #WeRead… WW2 on Pinterest.

Ok… I know I forgot some.  What are YOUR favorite WW2-related books? Or … make your case for why I should give The Book Thief (noticeably absent from this list) another try.

first blogiversary

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79 responses to “Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Read If You’re a WW2 History Buff

  1. Emilee

    I’ve read a few of these I’m not a huge WW 2 fiction fan. Have you read The Victory Club by Robin Lee Hatcher? I read it several years ago when I first got into reading fiction. It’s a good one to add!

  2. I don’t read historical or non-fiction books, but I am strangely fascinated with WW2, so you’d think I would be interested in books about that time. Maybe someday. 🙂 I love your enthusiasm though, it’s addictive!

  3. I’m honored that you included my series! Thank you! I have read several of your other selections and I think The Hiding Place is my favorite. It’s incredible. I agree with a previous comment about All the Light… And The Book Thief. Huge yes to both. Thanks again!

    • Carrie

      Thanks so much for commenting, Elizabeth! I love the uniqueness of your series – and how much I learned while reading excellent stories!! 🙂

  4. The only book I’ve read on there is The Diary of Anne Frank, many times, many years ago. But, I’ll add to your recommendations of Saving Amelie, which was very good!

  5. It’s funny that you mentioned people claiming Anne Frank’s Diary is not Historical Fiction, but Non-Fiction. Apparently, this has been heavily debated for decades and there have even been lawsuits over it. From what I read, there are claims that her diary was written in ball point pen, which was even mass produced until the 1950’s. I personally don’t believe whatever it is that they are trying to fight, but it’s pretty interesting to read the debates online about it.

  6. Carrie Turansky

    You have my favorites on your to be read list – Saving Amelie and Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke. They are outstanding! In fact anything I love all Cathy’s books. Have you read Promise Me This? 1912 England and US into WW1. Such a great story!

    • Carrie

      YES! That one is on my list that I need to read – I should have included it on today’s post. Thank you, Beckie!!

  7. The Hiding Place and Anne Frank are both amazing, specifically because they’re true.

    You MUST read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society! It is absolutely lovely.

    I couldn’t read The Book Thief either. Ugh.

  8. I have read several of these…and several more are on my TBR list. I have always been fascinated with WWII and growing up my friends thought I was crazy. I loved reading the stories of HOPE in the midst of darkness. To learn about real people who lived and died for their country. To honor their memory and learn from them. True sacrifice and bravery can be found everywhere you look, and I don’t want my generation to forget. And I agree…Maggie Bright is absolutely a must read!

  9. Code Name verity is amazing. For some fabulous nonfiction on WWII I recommend Bomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerou Weapon and The Port Chicago 50 both by Steve Sheinkin. Highly recommend them.

  10. Andria

    Sarah Sundin is fabulous! I read her first series, but now I want more!

    I’ve read several others on your list including the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Fabulous book!

    Wildflowers of Terezin was also very good.

  11. Andria Maus

    Not sure why, but I can’t seem to comment. It says it is a duplicate…

    Sarah Sundin is fabulous! I read her first series, but now I want more!

    I’ve read several others on your list including the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Fabulous book!

    Wildflowers of Terezin was also very good.

    • Carrie

      and people are STILL giving me suggestions in the comments of books I overlooked lol lol – such a vast array of options for this topic

  12. carylkane

    Carrie, thanks for the great recommendations! I loved Kristy Cambron’s The Butterfly and the Violin. 🙂

  13. Fantastic list! I love reading about WW2 too, and many of your books mentioned are fantastic. I’m so surprised that you read Irma Joubert – I didn’t even know her books were translated to English! (I’m South African.)
    Might I suggest two books to add to your TBR pile?
    1. Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein – also takes place during WW2, but in Ethiopia. I learned a lot about WW2 in Northern Africa through this book.
    2. The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh – this is an epic, but much of it takes place during WW2. I liked it not only because it’s a fantastic book, but because the WW2 stories from South-East Asia are often forgotten.
    Have fun! 🙂

    • Carrie

      Megz, I believe Girl From the Train was just very recently translated into English! And I think another of Joubert’s books will be released in English soon as well. Definitely adding your two suggestions to the list – thank you! 🙂

  14. I have a couple of these on my Kindle waiting to be read! I also enjoy reading historical fiction of WWII. One of my favorites was one I read multiple times while growing up – Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.

  15. I love that you chose WWII books! One of my favorite time periods too 🙂 I highly recommend Code Name Verity (I just posted a review myself last month) and All the Light We Cannot See (seriously–beautiful, moving, and insightful). And Guernsey is such a fun and brilliant read–I want to visit there one day!

    Adding a few of your favorites to my TBR pile (Anne Frank, Hotel Bitter and Sweet).

    I actually really love The Book Thief. I love the unique perspective with Death as the narrator. I enjoy the way the chapters are broken up and include different morals/thoughts in addition to the story. And I think the way it starts with the end is really interesting. It gave me a new perspective on WWII when I first read it–from within Germany. I really want to review it one day–it’s been a while since I read it. But it continues to stick with me. I hope you give it another chance someday 🙂

  16. Lovely list Carrie! I’ve heard good things about a lot of these books and really ought to check some of them out. Anne Frank is such a touching book; one of those that everyone should read.

  17. Pam K.

    I’ve read quite a few of your recommendations. Another I really liked was Maggie Bright by Tracy Groot.

  18. What a great list, looks like I’ve got a lot of reading ahead of me! Have you ever read Ken Follett’s Hornet Life? A patron recommended it to me the other day at the library- I had no idea about the Danish resistance!

    Searching in the Stacks

  19. I was rather disappointed in Secrets She Kept and Thief of Glory, though I have enjoyed all the other ones that I have read off your list. Through Waters Deep and The Butterfly and the Violin are among my favorites! (as is the GL and PPP Society;))

  20. I would like to give The Girl From the Train a try, I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. Same with The Nightingale and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (I’m pretty sure I already own a copy of the latter). I just picked up a copy of Sarah’s Key last month because someone told me to read it. Of course I haven’t gotten to it yet. Have you read All the Light We Cannot See? I’ve had that one recommended to me quite a bit as well.

    • Carrie

      I can’t believe i forgot to include All the Light – that’s another one that everyone tells me I must read!

  21. My TBR just grew…a lot. I love WW2 fiction. how cool about your Grandmother being on a cover!

    I would recommend The Magic of Ordinary Days by Ann Howard Creel. It’s set on the home front, which is a little different, and takes a look at Japanese internment camps. There is also a Hallmark movie that is very good and actually improves the ending. Summer of My German Soldier is good too. And heartbreaking.

  22. Valerie S.

    I read The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan last year and enjoyed it. I was unaware of this piece of history so it’s amazing that your grandparents worked there and your grandmother is included in the book cover!

  23. WWII isn’t my favorite time period just because it’s a little overdone. But I did enjoy Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and I love Guernsey. Anne Frank is a classic of course. I have a couple of those other books on my list. I do usually enjoy historical fiction more than I think I will.

  24. Fantastic list! I had actually been looking for a WW2 list. Sadly the only one I have read out of these is The Hiding Place. I loved The Book Thief, but more because I thought the concept of it being told by DEATH was amazing and it was an interesting concept overall. Great list and TTT!

  25. Interesting list; historical fiction in general isn’t really my thing, but Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity is one of my all-time favourites!

  26. I’m also a lover of WWII fiction and several of these are on my to-read list (or I’ve read them already). You should check out “I’ll Be Seeing You” by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan. It was a wonderful WWII story told in letters and it was one of my favorite reads of 2014.

  27. Sarah’s are always favorites (speaking of which, I should see if I can still sign up for the Revell tour with her upcoming book that sounds amazing)! As for “Saving Amelie,” that one’s really very good. 🙂 Hope you enjoy the ones you’re still anticipating, Carrie.

    Happy reading – and thanks so much for visiting Finding Wonderland.

  28. Mallori

    Wow! I really enjoy reading about WWII, but I’m surprised that I have only read two of the books on your lists. I, of course, read “The Diary of Anne Frank” (in seventh grade English). I just read “Code Name Verity” several months ago. My cousin recommended it to me, and boy am I glad I read it! There is some bad language in it, but it was soooo well written. I also read the second book–“Rose Under Fire”–and while I enjoyed that one as well, I think the first book was better.

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