Top 5 WWII Historical Fiction Picks

I love historical fiction. I took some history classes in college, but it was sometimes difficult for me to get in to all of the facts and figures because it felt so dense. Historical fiction is the way to bridge storytelling and truths in a way that is engaging and interesting. This genre has a power over me; it draws me in and forces feelings on me, in a totally non-creepy way. Lately, I’ve been on a World War II kick. These are 5 books that either I’ve read and loved, or that other people have recommended to me (and I intend to read very soon)!

salt to the sea

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

You guys, this is one of those books where the hype is real and valid. I found this novel to be so captivating. What’s different about this perspective is that we get points of view from the a Lithuanian girl, a Polish girl, a young Nazi, and a Prussian boy. I love the blend of their experiences together and the picture it paints. Perhaps my favorite part of this book is the end. No, not the end of the story – the research information and the author’s note. Sepetys’ words are so moving and engrossing. She does an incredible job every time of balancing historical facts and teaching you with entertaining you and drawing you in. Read my full review for it HERE!

all the light

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This book made me feel all of the feels. More than anything, I found this story to be necessary. We see a French girl’s experience, but we also see a boy who’s been roped into serving the Nazis. I appreciated how a lot of the information was implied, just adding onto our prior knowledge. It wasn’t just a list of historical facts or information, it was about the people. It’s a heavy read, but it’s not a heavy read. Read my full review for it HERE!

wolf by wolf

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

This is one book that I haven’t read yet! This story is a bit of a hybrid between historical fiction and fantasy – it blends a time of Nazi rule and death camps with human experimentation and resulting shapeshifting abilities. It’s also a bit of an alternate reality, because in this world, the Axis Powers rule the world. I’m working my way through the Amazon series The Man in the High Castle, which feels very similar to this book.

between shades

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

A book club that I’m in decided to do a WWII themed month and we got to choose from a selection of books. I chose this one because it was the only Sepetys book that I hadn’t read. I’m so glad I chose this one. So, so glad. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it forever: Ruta Sepetys is a historical fiction goddess. She’s a master, y’all. What surprised me was the connection between the main character of this book and one from Salt to the Sea – they’re cousins!


The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

This is the second book on this list that I”m ashamed to say I haven’t read, yet. I have had SO many people recommend it to me and I actually picked it up the other day. But…I had just finished reading about 3 or 4 historical fiction WWII books in a row and I had nothing left in me that wanted to continue that streak. I WILL read it! This was a Goodreads Choice winner for 2015 and is the story of two sisters and their involvement in the war – one has a resistance fighter and the other as someone who houses the enemy.

Have you read any of these books? What other WWII books would you recommend?

Happy reading! – Caitlyn


14 thoughts on “Top 5 WWII Historical Fiction Picks

  1. I adore The Nightingale so I really hope you love it! WWII is one of my favorite sub-genres, too! I’d recommend The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Enjoy! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Nightingale is pretty good. I had some issues with it, but it’s a good book and would be a great discussion book. I’d recommend A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell – it is mainly set in Italy, so is a slightly different perspective and it has many different characters. It is my favorite WWII novel. Others that are good are The Book Thief, Sarah’s Key, Night, Code Name Verity, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and also The Invisible Bridge.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a very interesting post! And I agree about historical fiction bridging the gap in the way you describe. I studied history at university and feel a good historical novel, well-researched, can bring a whole period to life! Bronte

    Liked by 1 person

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