Books

Top 5 novels set in WW2

Rabbit Girls author Anna Ellory's tips for the best stories of humanity during one of the world's darkest periods

Anna Ellory

Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels 

We follow the life of orphaned Jewish boy, Jakob, living in the shadow of the Holocaust. Stunningly written, it’s about love and loss, the power of memory and the overwhelming responsibility of survival.

Between Shades of Gray (Ashes in the Snow) by Ruta Sepetys

An unknown story of Lithuanian prisoners of Stalin’s Gulag. Told with pace, horror, truth and extraordinary hope, through the eyes of 15-year-old artist Lina, we see what it takes to survive.

Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan

This book tells the untold story of the black population under Nazi rule. At its heart, it is the story of friendship, love, jazz and about what it takes to forgive another, but – and inevitably harder – what it takes to forgive oneself.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Focusing on Marie-Laure, a blind girl living in war-torn Paris, and Werner, a German orphan, the book is masterfully told, beautifully written and stuns in its capacity to capture both the frailty and resilience of the human heart.

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

This graphic novel is powerfully human, brutal, honest, complex and beautiful. How one man’s strength is also his weakness. How you can leave the past, but it cannot leave you. Deeply affecting. If you only pick up one book on my list make it this one.

The Rabbit Girls by Anna Ellory is published on September 1 (Lake Union, £20)

The Rabbit Girls by Anna Ellory

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Top 5 books on boxing, chosen by commentator Andy Clarke
Books

Top 5 books on boxing, chosen by commentator Andy Clarke

Parasol Against the Axe by Helen Oyeyemi review – electrifying, experimental writing
Books

Parasol Against the Axe by Helen Oyeyemi review – electrifying, experimental writing

The Hearing Test by Eliza Barry Callahan review – a droll insight into a year of loss
Books

The Hearing Test by Eliza Barry Callahan review – a droll insight into a year of loss

Top 5 books about the British seaside, chosen by crime writer William Shaw
Books

Top 5 books about the British seaside, chosen by crime writer William Shaw

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know