The Most Beloved WWII Novels of the Last Decade

Posted by Cybil on September 19, 2018
World War II has inspired libraries full of great literature and continues to hold a strong fascination for all types of readers. In the last decade alone, many beloved works have been produced, from the Pulitzer Prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See to the recently adapted for Netflix The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

In order to discover the best-loved World War II fiction published in the last ten years, we looked at the most popular books in the genre that have earned at least a four-star rating from fellow readers. Of course, because we are only looking at books published since 2008, classics of the genre are not listed below (but are, of course, still highly recommended) including Slaughterhouse-Five, Maus, The Book Thief, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and many more.


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What World War II novel would you recommend to your fellow readers? Let us know in the comments.

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Comments Showing 1-50 of 173 (173 new)


message 1: by Shelby (new)

Shelby Conklin I encourage everyone to read Ken Follett's Century Trilogy. Fall of Giants - WWI, Winter of the World - WWII, Edge of Eternity - Cold War.


message 2: by Pam (new)

Pam I recommend A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell.


message 3: by Sandra (last edited Sep 19, 2018 11:10AM) (new)

Sandra I'd like to recommend my WWII novel Franzisca's Box.

For those who prefer to read personal accounts about the Holocaust. Here's a link to a list of books that compile literature and documentation left behind by victims http://fcit.usf.edu/holocaust/arts/li...


message 4: by Jill (new)

Jill Purinton I read the Tattooist of Auschwitz. A love story in the midst of Hell.


message 5: by Susan (new)

Susan Kavanagh I second the recommendation of a Thread of Grace. Also, Kate Atkinson's Life After Life. Also recommend Restless by William Boyd, a most interesting story of British spies sent to America to foster support for joining the war. That might have been written more than 10 years ago.


message 6: by Susan (new)

Susan Kavanagh Although written shortly after the war, Frances Faviell's work has been recently been reissued by Dean Street Press. Her memoir of living through the blitz, Chelsea Concerto, is great. The author of the blog, Furrowed Middlebrow, worked with Dean Street Press to have some "lost" books reissued. Since these authors lived through the war in England, the books give a more realistic view of how the war affected people.


message 7: by Parsa (new)

Parsa مزخرفات فارسی


message 8: by Laura (new)

Laura There are a lot of good ones, if you don't like the Chick Lit Goes to Way genre: The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher; Moon Tiger, by Penelope Lively; The Glass House, by Simon Mawer; Charlotte Grey, by Sebastian Faulkes; Atonement, by Ian McEwan; Suite Francaise, by Irene Nemirovsky; Sarah's Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay; The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak; Trapeze, by Simon Mawer; Corelli's Mandolin, by Louis de Bernieres


message 9: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Fraser I'll echo my fellow posters and underscore the non- Chick Lit Goes to War gems: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak; Atonement by Ian McEwan; Maus by Art Spiegelman; Catch-22 by Joseph Heller; Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut; and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (this one is non-fic, but is such a crazy good story that it feels like fiction).


message 10: by Mardi (new)

Mardi The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
Anne Frank’s Diary.


message 11: by Brittany (new)

Brittany I highly recommend White Rose Black Forest by Eoin Dempsey and In Farleigh Field by Rhys Brown!


message 12: by Zulfiya (last edited Sep 19, 2018 11:56AM) (new)

Zulfiya A lot of those listed are just fluffy novels without much intellectual subsistence. Not all of them, though. I can fully vouch for The Invisible Bridge and City of Thieves


message 13: by Alice (new)

Alice The Alice Network isn't really a World War II novel... Half the story takes place during World War I and the other half takes place two years later. It's a great book, but it doesn't really fit this list.


message 15: by Sarah (new)

Sarah The Tattooist of Auschwitz... the most beautiful and inspiring true story.


message 16: by Carrie (new)

Carrie I like the quote on quote "fluffy" WW2 books, I love the stories of those left at home, life still had to go on. But that's just me. Sometimes fluffy can be the a breath of fresh air, then again it also can be stale air. Depends on the writers style and ability to hold ones attention.

The Alice Network and Code Name Verity were great reads.


message 17: by Mamie (new)

Mamie Anthoine Ney "Women in the Castle" by Jessica Shattuck is a wonderful WWII book that shows what went on before, during, and after. The characters are compelling. A story of loyalty, perseverance, friendship, and the trials of war.


message 18: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher is a wonderful book about WWII. Highly recommend.


message 19: by Beth (new)

Beth I highly recommend Phillip Kerr's Bernie Gunther series. Also books by Joseph Kanon.


message 20: by K8 (new)

K8 Code Name Verity is one of my all time favourites.


message 21: by Anita (new)

Anita Elder Shelby wrote: "I encourage everyone to read Ken Follett's Century Trilogy. Fall of Giants - WWI, Winter of the World - WWII, Edge of Eternity - Cold War."

I second this! I love Ken's writing.


message 22: by Tytti (new)

Tytti Carrie wrote: "I like the quote on quote "fluffy" WW2 books, I love the stories of those left at home, life still had to go on. But that's just me. Sometimes fluffy can be the a breath of fresh air, then again it..."

That kind of a "fluffy" life at home was a luxury that many countries fighting in WWII didn't have.


message 23: by Angelica (new)

Angelica Juarez Gonzalez I recommend The bronze horseman by Paullina Simons
Between shades of gray by Ruta Sepetys
The boy in the striped pyjamas by John Boyne
The book thief by Markus Zusak


message 24: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Tytti wrote: "Carrie wrote: "I like the quote on quote "fluffy" WW2 books, I love the stories of those left at home, life still had to go on. But that's just me. Sometimes fluffy can be the a breath of fresh air..."

This true, not all had a "fluffy" home life. I didn't say they had. My use of fluffy is referring writing style. Another previous comment was talking about how some of the books mentioned are like chick lit meets war. So I was not at all saying those left behind had a fluffy life. I was saying I like reading books set in that time period and seeing the life behind the scenes of war, to the life that still had to go on regardless of the fighting.


message 25: by Michelle (last edited Sep 19, 2018 05:05PM) (new)

Michelle The Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk is some of the best WW2 fiction I have ever read. (And I’ve read a lot.) I second City of Thieves, and the Century Trilogy by Ken Follet. Lastly, All the Light We Cannot See. Those are all my top choices.

Realized just now that Herman Wouk books would not qualify- I missed that the list was from this decade. Oops!


message 26: by Colleen (last edited Sep 19, 2018 04:54PM) (new)

Colleen Loved The Invisible Bridge and The Nightingale. Guernsey/Potato Peel was also good. One of all my time faves is The Book Thief. Sarah's Key just pulled at my heart. A few of these listed including Beneath a Scarlet Sky are on my TBR and some I've read.

I love this genre for some reason. It was a horrible, yet fascinating time. So many stories. Not all told.


message 27: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Anita wrote: "Shelby wrote: "I encourage everyone to read Ken Follett's Century Trilogy. Fall of Giants - WWI, Winter of the World - WWII, Edge of Eternity - Cold War."

I second this! I love Ken's writing."


I've only read Fall of Giants and loved it. I need to get on with it and continue the series. !


message 28: by Bikram (new)

Bikram Shelby wrote: "I encourage everyone to read Ken Follett's Century Trilogy. Fall of Giants - WWI, Winter of the World - WWII, Edge of Eternity - Cold War."

I have those books in Audible. But each book's 30+ hours of runtime intimidates me.


message 29: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Fitzgerald Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers by Sara Ackerman was wonderful!
For middle-grade/y.a. readers, Someone Named Eva by Joan Wolf is excellent. I must put in a plug for the book that started my love of reading historical fiction about WW2. That book was All the Children Were Sent Away by Sheila Garrigue. Reading it gave me my first knowledge of the London Blitz and about the children being evacuated; still brings a lump to my throat when I remember it.


message 30: by Zulfiya (last edited Sep 19, 2018 06:27PM) (new)

Zulfiya Bikram wrote: "Shelby wrote: "I encourage everyone to read Ken Follett's Century Trilogy. Fall of Giants - WWI, Winter of the World - WWII, Edge of Eternity - Cold War."

I have those books in Audible. But each b..."


The story is so engaging, that 30 hours will not be enough to enjoy them. Let me correct myself - multiple story lines, not just the story.


message 31: by Tytti (new)

Tytti Carrie wrote: "My use of fluffy is referring writing style. Another previous comment was talking about how some of the books mentioned are like chick lit meets war. So I was not at all saying those left behind had a fluffy life. I was saying I like reading books set in that time period and seeing the life behind the scenes of war, to the life that still had to go on regardless of the fighting."

I understood what you meant but it's still a luxury that I can't even really imagine because for us it was a total war. The life just couldn't go on, the war was always present in many ways, and the shortages and bombing raids were a big part of it. Chick-lit story lines also become difficult when practically all young and not-so-young men were serving in the military and spent years at the front, away from most women, and the female volunteers had strict guidelines of their own which they had to follow.


message 32: by Brittany (new)

Brittany Schenck Completely amd emphatically second The Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simons! Book 2 and 3 we’re meh, but TBH, holy monkey! *Shura* (excuse me while I swoon)


message 33: by Tytti (last edited Sep 19, 2018 07:20PM) (new)

Tytti Brittany wrote: "Completely amd emphatically second The Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simons!"

That's such a "funny" book. "I have to get this character from here to there. Now how do I do it..? I know, I'll change some basic WWII history, so I can make it happen. It's not like anyone will notice."

(Just a friendly advice: If your country is at war, don't go to the very country your country is at war with. They won't treat you nicely. If caught, you will get arrested and quite likely shot as a spy.)


message 34: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Obviously The Kindly Ones - a book so good it's one of the unqualifiedly best 100 books of the decade. Certainly the most challenging (but still wildly immersive) of all of the books on this list.


message 35: by Christopher (new)

Christopher The Just-About-Cocky Ms M wrote: "I have to say that I think Beneath a Scarlet Sky is, without doubt, one of the worst books I've ever struggled through, an absolute travesty on all levels: poorly written, ridiculous plot, unbeliev..."

Thank you. I feel dirty having commented on this ridiculous **sponsored** list.


message 36: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Enemy Brothers by Constance Savery is a great WWII book for a younger audience!


message 37: by Samantha (new)

Samantha I would highly recommend A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson. I also loved All the Light We Cannot See.


message 38: by Kaylee (new)

Kaylee How is Sarah's Key not on this list? Deeply haunting.

Also highly underrated: The Paris Architect.


message 39: by Zohal (new)

Zohal Where is The Book Thief???

Oh well, all those that I have read on this list have been memorable 5 star reads :)


message 40: by Debstl (new)

Debstl I listened to the audiobook of The Lilac Girls... it was incredible. It brought me to tears more than once


message 41: by czai (new)

czai I highly recommend Broken Angels by Gemma Liviero 😀


message 42: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Tytti wrote: "Carrie wrote: "My use of fluffy is referring writing style. Another previous comment was talking about how some of the books mentioned are like chick lit meets war. So I was not at all saying those..."

How is showing behind the scenes a luxury? What you are talking about is life still going on out side the battle. And that is what I'm talking about, the stories of the people who still had to go on doing whatever it is they could. I use chick lit because another poster had. It's the stores of the people that lived in that time, that had to go through hard ship, and bombings, etc.


message 43: by Ben (new)

Ben Bufton-Bryant Shelby wrote: "I encourage everyone to read Ken Follett's Century Trilogy. Fall of Giants - WWI, Winter of the World - WWII, Edge of Eternity - Cold War."

just purchased this from a lovely secondhand bookstore. Cannot wait to sink my teeth into the book :D


message 44: by Cindyb (new)

Cindyb I agree with a previous poster about Sarah’s Key. A haunting novel. From the list above I would go with The Nightingale. Beautifully written.


message 45: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer I just finished reading "The Women in the Castle" and I agree that it's a great addition to the list. Shattuck gets several different perspectives from characters in the war and it's a good look at how news and propaganda affect the views of ordinary citizens.

Mamie wrote: ""Women in the Castle" by Jessica Shattuck is a wonderful WWII book that shows what went on before, during, and after. The characters are compelling. A story of loyalty, perseverance, friendship, an..."


message 46: by Jill (new)

Jill Mackin Beth wrote: "I highly recommend Phillip Kerr's Bernie Gunther series. Also books by Joseph Kanon."

Oh, I agree!


message 47: by Allie (new)

Allie The Just-About-Cocky Ms M wrote: "I have to say that I think Beneath a Scarlet Sky is, without doubt, one of the worst books I've ever struggled through, an absolute travesty on all levels: poorly written, ridiculous plot, unbeliev..."

.. ok?


message 48: by Shelly (last edited Sep 20, 2018 06:19AM) (new)

Shelly I would like to add “Skeletons at the Feast” by Chris Bohjalian, “Those Who Save Us” by Jenna Blum, “The Women in the Castle” by Jessica Shattuck, “The Baker’s Secret” by Stephen P. Kiernan, & “The Room on Rue Amelie” by Kristen Harmel, just to name a few! Oh, and “Once We Were Brothers” & “Karolina’s Twins,” both by Ronald Balson. I’m currently reading “The Tattooist of Auschwitz,” which is unputdownable. I would like to reinforce the addition of “The Book Thief.” It’s hauntingly beautiful, & it’s on the PBS Great American Read list. Finally, “The Lilac Girls,” which I’ve read several times!


message 49: by Linda (new)

Linda The Zookeeper's wife and When the sky fell apart


message 50: by Brayden (new)

Brayden Grant Shelby wrote: "I encourage everyone to read Ken Follett's Century Trilogy. Fall of Giants - WWI, Winter of the World - WWII, Edge of Eternity - Cold War."
I just marked it down as Want to read.


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