Ten Recent WWII Reads

The Year of Peril 1942 Inside book page

During difficult times, I often find myself turning to WWII books, so my last year of reading has included a lot of both fiction and nonfiction WWII books.

When life gets challenging, I find comfort in books. Looking over the books that I have read since last March, I realized this theme.

The theme of WWII reads.

Why did I turn to books about WWII?

I think I took comfort in knowing that there were times far worse than 2020 in history.

The Splendid and the Vile book

Don’t get me wrong, 2020 was rough. It was the toughest year that many people have lived through but was it the worst year ever? No, it wasn’t in my opinion, and other people far more versed in history have said the same.

Reading books about WWII put life in perspective for me. Much of what we lived through in 2020 was similar to what people lived through during WWI and WWII.

All the books that I read about WWII over the last year shared different stories, but they all had something in common. The war, the challenges, and the getting back to normal after it was all over.

I put together a list of my recent WWII reads. These are the books that have helped me put life in perspective over the last year, so I hope you find that one or two of them help you too.

Nonfiction WWII Reads

Home Fires

Home Fires by Julie Summers

Home Fires is the true story of the Women’s Institute, also known as the WI, in Britain during WWII. Women carried the burden at home when men went to war. During WWII, women made sacrifices big and small that had a big impact on the war. Home Fires is a reminder that it takes us all to overcome the hard times. It took both those on the front lines and those on the home front to win the war.

The Splendid and The Vile

The Splendid and the Vile By Erik Larson

I read The Splendid and the Vile during the spring of 2020. I started it in March and finished it in April. It was the right book at the right time for me.

The Title, The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz, sums up this book perfectly. Leadership during difficult times matters. You can bring people together or you can tear them apart. You can make them fearful or you can make them courageous. Churchill was a political genius. You might not agree with everything he did, but his leadership in the time of war was an example that we can all learn from. 

When the Germans Came book review

When the Germans Came by Duncan Barrett

When the Germans Came is the real-life version of the book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is not based on a real story, but it is based on real events that happened on the Channel Islands during WWII. The Channel Islands were the only British subjects to live under Nazi rule during WWII. This book covers facts that are not well known to most Americans. It covers a lot of facts, but once I got into it, I could not put it down.

The Year of Peril book

The Year of Peril by Tracy Campbell

The Year of Peril: America in 1942, is the book I can’t stop talking about. It was a reminder that not much has changed. We like to think that 2020 is a year like no other. In some ways it is, but in the majority of ways, it was not. As I read this book, I could not believe the similarities between 1942 and 2020. This book did not get a lot of attention when it was released, but it is a book I highly recommend.

No Ordinary Time book

No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin

I have been wanting to read a Doris Kearns Goodwin book, so I recently picked up No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II to read. This is a presidential biography, so it is a hefty book. At over 600 pages, it took a while to get through, but I am so glad that I read it. 

This was a great book to read after reading The Splendid and the Vile and American in 1942. The time periods overlapped but covered different perspectives and sides. Reading all three gave me a better understanding of the time period and what led up to different events.

No Ordinary Time covered quite a bit about Churchill’s and Roosevelt’s friendship, which I found fascinating. It also covered a lot about Eleanor Roosevelt and how controversial she was at the time. I had no idea that Eleanor Roosevelt was so involved in politics and political decisions when her husband was in office. This book was another reminder of the power of good and bad leadership.


The Book of Lost Names book review

The Book of Lost Names by Kristen Harmel

The Book of Lost Names covers part of WWII that I had no idea about. It is based on a true story of rescuing children during WWII. It covers books, libraries, secrets, romance, and more. The characters are fascinating. I could not put this book down. If you love books about books, this is a great one! I will say it is a bit PG-13 in a few spots, but besides that, I really enjoyed it.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz book review

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on a true story and it reads like a true story. It is the story of a prisoner, who tattooed numbers on thousands of his fellow prisoner’s arms. It is a story of pain and yet a story of love. This book is now on my list of favorite WWII fiction books. The character, the story, and the events all draw you in. It is a tough read and yet such a great read.

Cilka's Journey book

Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris

After reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz, I almost immediately picked up Cilka’s Journey. This book continues the story of one of the prisoners from The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Although this book is more fictionalized than the first one, I still really enjoyed it.

The book may not be based on as many facts as the first one, but it is a story that you can imagine happening so many times during that time period. You don’t have to read The Tattooist of Auschwitz to read this one, but the characters and the story will make more sense if you do. This book is a bit more PG-13 than the first one, so keep that in mind if you read it.

The Sweetness of Forgetting

The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristen Harmel 

The Sweetness of Forgetting alternates between WWII and present-day ( or present-day when the book was written). It is a story about family, hardships, aging, love, and so much more. It combines WWII with food, romance, and family. If you like books that read a bit like a Hallmark movie, I think you will enjoy this one.

Miss Grahams Cold War Cookbook book

Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook by Celia Rees

This book covers post-WWII, but in covering the time period after the war, it also covers a lot of history of the war. The main reason that I really liked Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook is that it was so different than any other book that I have read about this time period. An ordinary British woman, who is a teacher, becomes a spy. Her life is never the same. The story draws you in with mystery, food, and more. This is another one that is a bit PG-13 in a few places.

Have you had any recent WWII reads that you enjoyed? 

2 thoughts on “Ten Recent WWII Reads”

  1. This is a great list, Lynn! And I have not read any of them. Many of them look like books I would enjoy. I found myself reading lots of mysteries last year. I also turn to reading for comfort and I can see how reading about WWII can put things in perspective. I think what I liked about mysteries was that everything was put in order by the end of the book. I think I found comfort in the order.

    • I have read quite a few mysteries too this year. I might have to look back and see how many I read. I think you are right. Mystery books are probably comfort reading for many because by the end everything is in order and solved.


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