Reading books with historical themes is an enduring and satisfying experience for me because I like history in general. I found a lot of literature based on and around the time of the World Wars and these books are some of the best books I have read. The central theme of these books might revolve around and during a World war but these books have so much more to offer.
1) A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway.
Ernest Hemingway’s this novel is set during the World War I and its protagonist is an American soldier stationed on the Italian front. Its main focus is on the love affair between our protagonist Henry and an English nurse Catherine during the times of the war. The story is unpredictable with a mix of interesting characters. Once I started reading this book I realized it is not what I expected but it exceeded my expectations. The writing is beautiful and to the point; you through every emotion along with the characters.
2) Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank.
I read this book for the first time when I was 15 when we studied the Second World War in history class. Reading it again seven years later there were a lot of factors which I hadn’t thought about or understood when I read it as a teen. Anne’s beliefs, her perspectives on life were so different and unique; she was far more mature for her age. It’s a beautiful book in form of letters Anne writes in her diary. The end of her letters in abrupt which makes you wonder what happened to her after that; thankfully my copy has an elaborate afterword which didn’t exactly make me feel better after reading it.
3) Between Shades of Gray – Ruta Sepetyus.
This book was a rollercoaster experience. The historical context of this book is Baltic Deportations during World War II; it was something I hardly knew anything about or read anything related to. The book is heartbreaking yet there is a sense of optimism especially in the characters of the story. As I said in my review of this book, for me, the characterization in the novel is something else and it makes you care about each of them.
4) All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
The book is set in Nazi-occupied France during the World War II. The protagonists of the novel are a French blind girl Marie and a German boy Werner. The book is such a page-turner, it’s hard to keep it down because you need to know what happens next. The book is slightly longer than it should have been, at least I thought so but its really good. The bond between Marie and her father is so beautiful and her connection with Werner is so strong in such a short span of time. It is just a really good book.
I am sure there are many more books set around the time of the World Wars which are equally good or even better. The books I mentioned above are my personal favorites of this genre though there are still a number of books on my historical ‘want to read’ pile.