World War II -- fiction

11/10/2017 - 9:59am
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse the book matches here.

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
The Things They Carried depicts the men of Alpha Company: Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and of course, the character Tim O'Brien who has survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of forty-three. They battle the enemy (or maybe more the idea of the enemy), and occasionally each other. In their relationships, we see their isolation and loneliness, their rage and fear. They miss their families, their girlfriends, and buddies; they miss the lives they left back home. Yet they find sympathy and kindness for strangers (the old man who leads them unscathed through the minefield, the girl who grieves while she dances), and love for each other because in Vietnam they are the only family they have. We hear the voices of the men and build images upon their dialogue. The way they tell stories about others, we hear them telling stories about themselves. (catalog summary)
 

Looking for a wartime fiction title to read this Veteran's Day weekend? Check out the selections below.

10/02/2017 - 1:35pm
The Maggie Bright: A Novel of Dunkirk

I watched Dunkirk when it came to the theaters this summer hoping for an outstanding movie, and I got one. A favorite actor, Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, In the Heart of the Sea), portrayed the desolation of the shell-shocked “Shivering Soldier.” There is a point to never formally naming those characters caught between the German onslaught and the English Channel. They are everymen in their terror, helplessness, and humanity. But, I wondered, who are they? Who are all the nameless ones upon the shore, waiting for deliverance? Who are their rescuers? What are their stories? What could be their stories?

The Maggie Bright: A Novel of Dunkirk, by Tracy Groot, begins in an English shipyard in 1940. Clare Childs has inherited a handsome 52-foot yacht from someone she barely knew. She’s tricked it out as a houseboat and makes a small living renting out its rooms as a sort of floating bed-and-breakfast. But Clare doesn’t intend to remain in the harbor forever. She’s saving up whatever spare change she has to sail around the world. For her, it will be the full escape she’s needed ever since she was orphaned at a young age and brought up in isolation by her skinflint uncle.

10/02/2017 - 1:40pm
Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem

In Jewish lore, there is the legend of the golem, a being composed of earth and given life with ritual prayer. It is a protector that might be brought forth for the darkest days. And, surely World War II must be counted among those days.

Dark Horse Comics’ Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem imagines a scenario where a poor Jewish village, whose fighting-age men have gone to war, has mercy on a downed British pilot, even knowing that his presence will endanger them all.

10/02/2017 - 1:43pm

During World War II, victory gardens were important to Americans around the country. The steel and tin industry was working hard on supplying the army with weapons, so there were not enough raw materials to make these and tin cans for vegetables. Trains were being used to carry soldiers instead of civilian food supplies. And, to make matters worse, Japan controlled most of the rubber factories overseas, which meant there was no rubber for new tires on trucks that carried food across the country.

10/02/2017 - 1:42pm
The Shadow Land: A Novel by Elizabeth Kostova

In 2008, a young woman from the Blue Ridge Mountains, who loves poetry and literature, arrives in Bulgaria. She’s been hired to teach English but has a month to explore on her own. Jet-lagged, at the wrong hotel and in need of rest and a shower, it’s not surprising Alexandra makes a terrible mistake while simply trying to help a family with their luggage. It’s not the first awful mistake she’s made, either.

In the late 1930s, a 20-something violin virtuoso, who has everything in the world to look forward to, slips back to his Bulgarian hometown on the eve of World War II. When the conflict is over, Stoyan Lazarov has very good reason to believe his talent will grant him fame. So what if he has to play second chair for now in a provincial orchestra? He has the love of his life, brilliant talent and enough patience. But musical genius though he may be, he has not factored in the crushing power of the political police.

In 2008, Alexandra’s and Stoyan’s paths will cross, and their separate, shameful secrets will be laid bare. Elizabeth Kostova’s The Shadow Land is at once a historical mystery and a modern thriller. There is true bravery and true love in this page-turner that spans decades, even as it illuminates an ancient country’s marvels and sorrows.

10/02/2017 - 1:53pm
Cover to Girl in the Blue Coat

In the wake of the Nazi invasion of Amsterdam, Hanneke Baker tries to attract as little attention as possible. She is one of the best black market smugglers in the city, able to charm shopkeepers and soldiers alike while keeping the true nature of her work a secret from her concerned parents.

03/31/2017 - 9:03am
If you like The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman

This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse the book matches here.

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman
The true story of how the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands. When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw—and the city's zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Żabiński began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen "guests" hid inside the Żabińskis' villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the Polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants—otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxe—and keeping alive an atmosphere of play and innocence even as Europe crumbled around her. (catalog summary)

The Zookeeper's Wife is a 2017 British-American war drama film directed by Niki Caro and written by Angela Workman. The film stars Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, Michael McElhatton and Daniel Brühl. The film is scheduled to be released on March 31, 2017, by Focus Features. View the offical HD Trailer below the book recommendations.

Looking for a war-time drama like The Zookeeper's Wife? Check out these other titles.
 

A Blessing on the Moon by Joseph Skibell

A Blessing on the Moon by Joseph Skibell

At the center of A Blessing on the Moon is Chaim Skibelski. Death is merely the beginning of Chaim s troubles. In the opening pages, he is shot along with the other Jews of his small Polish village. But instead of resting peacefully in the World to Come, Chaim, for reasons unclear to him, is left to wander the earth, accompanied by his rabbi, who has taken the form of a talking crow. Chaim's afterlife journey is filled with extraordinary encounters whose consequences are far greater than he realizes. (catalog summary)

 


03/27/2017 - 12:27am
Cover to Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

Sherri L. Smith’s Flygirl is an extremely moving historical novel about friendship, freedom, love, and loyalty.

Ida Mae Jones dreamed of doing something to help U.S. troops defeat the Nazis in World War II. She was young, smart, and knew how to fly an airplane. But that wasn’t enough, not even when they started accepting women to fly non-combat missions. Because Ida Mae was black, and only white women were allowed to join the flying service. So there was no way she could help win the war and bring her brother home all the sooner. Unless she broke the rules.

01/09/2017 - 12:03am
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

What would you do to survive in wartime? What would you sacrifice? Whom would you sacrifice? Three refugees—all teens—are on the losing side of World War II. They are struggling through the German-Prussian countryside, heading for the same destination—a German evacuation camp of civilians and wounded soldiers on the Baltic Sea. They're hoping for some kind of safety from the Russians who, coming from one direction, will kill them and the Allied Forces, coming from another direction, who could do the same. But they are not even safe from their own countrymen, because all three also have secrets. Ones they are desperate to protect. Ones that could mean they are left behind in the snow by the others to die if they are not killed by the bombs first.

11/17/2016 - 11:56am
If you like World War II and Audiobooks

This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse other book matches here.

If you like history and listening to it, here are a few highly recommended audiobooks set in World War II:

All Clear by Connie Willis
After three Oxford historians travel back in time to the year 1940, historical records indicate that at least one of them affected the past and changed the outcome of World War II. (catalog summary)
 



All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris and is blind by age six. Her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, so she can memorize it and navigate the real streets. When the Germans occupy Paris, they flee to Saint-Malo on the coast. In Germany, Werner grows up enchanted by a crude radio he finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, which wins him a place with the Hitler Youth. Werner travels throughout Europe, and finally to Saint-Malo, where his meets Marie Laure. Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Literature. (catalog summary)
 

 


Atonement by Ian McEwan
In the summer of 1935, 13-year-old Briony Tallis wildly misinterprets the relationship between her sister Cecilia and Robbie Turner, childhood friends home from Cambridge. So when her young cousin is assaulted, Briony gives in to her hyperactive imagination and blames the atrocity on Robbie. It is a terrible decision that alters lives and fills Briony with an everlasting sense of guilt. (catalog summary)
 

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