August 24, 2015

Time Travel To: World War II

"​Ordnance Survey One-Inch Map​"​ by bull_de is licensed under CC BY 2.0
I'm really excited to be back with another post for this collaborative feature I host with my friends Hannah of So Obsessed With and Kelly of Belle of the Literati! Last time, we each picked one of our favorite time periods in history to share with our readers. Today, we're all going to be focusing on the same historical event in history - World War II.

a little background about the time period
photo credits: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4
World War II. This global war lasted from 1939 to 1945, involving the great powers of the world in two factions - the Allies (France, Poland, Great Britain, eventually joined by the British Commonwealth, United States and China) and the Axis (Germany, Italy & Japan). There were mass deaths (like the Holocaust) and bombings aplenty until the war ended with the German surrender, followed shortly by the surrender of the Japanese.

Just thinking about this particular moment in time invites a bevy of feelings - anger, sorrow, pain, fear, determination and hope. There was so much death and destruction all over the world, and it is really hard to swallow that human beings were behind some of the most terrible moments in world history. It's difficult read about the things that happened, but it's also really important to recognize and face the horrors of the past in order to learn from it as we move into the future.

books I've read from this time period

Odette's Secrets by Maryann Macdonald | This novel is written from the perspective of young Odette, a Jewish girl caught up in the mayhem caused by World War II. I was completely engaged in Odette's thoughts and feelings as I read. While it doesn't necessarily provide a complete set of facts about the war itself, it's unique in its use of a child to narrate the tale through free verse.

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman | I'm cheating a wee bit with this one, since it technically is set before World War II begins. But it is such a fascinating tale, again with a unique female perspective. Gretchen has grown up knowing that her father died to save Adolf Hitler; as the story unfolds, she discovers the truth about her "Uncle Dolf" - and it's both terrifying and fascinating.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden | It's been ages since I last reread this, but I can vividly recall my fascination with how Japan, particularly the tradition of geishas, is portrayed before and after World War II. Again, what this book offers is an alternative female perspective on how an ordinary life was so greatly affected by an event on a global scale; it's well worth a read.

books on my TBR set in this time period

Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford | I honestly probably would not have heard of this one were it not for Hannah, but it sounds so good. I really like reading about Asian characters (whether full or partial), and reading about what happened to Henry and Keiko sounds like it's going to be really interesting. I don't think I've read a story with a plot quite like this one recently, so I'm looking forward to checking it out.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr | Hannah is the one that recommended this book! I'd seen it in bookstores prior to hearing about it from her, but it was the way she talked about it that convinced me to purchase a copy of my own. The two characters mentioned in the official summary instantly got my attention; I'm curious to see how the story plays out, how they meet and what happens next for them.

Tatiana and Alexander by Paullina Simons | This one is an additional recommendation from Kelly, since she pushed The Bronze Horseman on me and I really liked that one! It's the sequel that chronicles what exactly happens to both these individuals after the difficult circumstances that split them apart, and I'm dying to see how these two find their way back to one another. (And yes, I'm a hopeless romantic for saying that, but a girl can dream!)

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein | I read and really liked Code Name Verity, and I'm certainly curious to read another story from Wein set during this time period. I've heard plenty of praise for this, but what really draws me to it is the description of main character Rose as an "American ATA pilot and amateur poet". It will certainly be interesting (and heartbreaking) to read about her time at a concentration camp.

The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank | I feel like this is a novel I should have already read! I know that Macky has read it a few times, and still finds it completely heartbreaking every reread. I'd love to really get to know Anne Frank through her diary, which chronicles her experience as a young girl living hidden with her family for two years before they are discovered by the Nazis. 

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys | In my earliest days as a blogger, I saw this title get mentioned quite often. I've read a different novel from Sepetys, but I'm still quite curious about her debut! It sounds like another unique female perspective on World War II, and you already can tell based on my top three book recs that I love those. And you can't get more unique than to the story of a Lithuanian girl who winds up in a work camp.

And there you have it, a few facts about World War II and some recommendations for books set in this particular era. If you've got additional book suggestions for me, or just want to tell me that you enjoy reading books set in this era, please feel free to share in the comments! Don't forget to drop by So Obsessed With and Belle of the Literati to see what Hannah and Kelly have to say.


  1. Ah I love this feature. World War II is such an interesting time period. No matter how many books I read about it, I feel like there's always more to read. (Also how did I not realize some of these were set in the 1940s??) Have you read Number the Stars or Alan & Naomi? Those are two of my favorites that I read in grade school. I'd also suggest Tamar by Mal Peet which is possibly my go-to WWII book recommendation aside from Elizabeth Wein,

  2. This is one of my favorite blog features :) World War II is not a period that I love in particular in but a lot of these books definitely sound worth checking out! I did love The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, have you read it?

  3. Have you read the So Close to You books? There's not too much about the war but they do spend most of the series in the 40's and it's what got me into loving that time period. It's a great series, you should definitely read it :)

  4. You're a genius for thinking of this feature because I absolutely love WWII. The recommendations sound great as well! :D

  5. I've read maybe a third of these books. I loved The Bronze Horseman trilogy so much, that I still think about it. Memoirs of a Geisha is also a favorite of mine. This feature was a great idea. LOVE!


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