Riot Recommendation

48 Excellent World War II Novels

Kelly Jensen


Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.

the paris architect coverThis installment of the Riot Recommendation is sponsored by The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure.

Like most gentiles in Nazi-occupied Paris, architect Lucien Bernard has little empathy for the Jews. So when a wealthy industrialist offers him a large sum of money to devise secret hiding places for Jews, Lucien struggles with the choice of risking his life for a cause he doesn’t really believe in. Ultimately he can’t resist the challenge and begins designing expertly concealed hiding spaces—behind a painting, within a column, or inside a drainpipe—detecting possibilities invisible to the average eye. But when one of his clever hiding spaces fails horribly and the immense suffering of Jews becomes incredibly personal, he can no longer deny reality.

Written by an expert whose knowledge imbues every page, this story becomes more gripping with every life the architect tries to save.


Last week, we asked you to tell us your favorite fiction about World War II. Your recommendations covered every aspect of the war. Let’s dig in to over 48 World War II novels:

The Losing Role by Steve Anderson

City of Thieves by David Benioff

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

The Bridge Over the River Kwai by Pierre Boulle

The Boat by Lothar-Gunther Buchheim

The Gallery by John Horne Burns

Mare’s War by Tanita S Davis

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan

Jackdaws by Ken Follett

City of Women by David R Gillham

Americans in Paris by Charles Glass

Stones From The River by Ursula Hegi

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

The Periodic Table by Primo Levi

The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Goodnight, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian

The Guns of Navarone by Alistair Maclean

Fortunes of War by Olivia Manning

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick

A Long Long Time Ago & Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka

Gone to Soldiers by Marge Piercy

A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell

Early One Morning by Robert Ryan

The Gurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schafer

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

A Pledge of Silence by Flora J. Solomon

Maus by Art Spiegelman

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

The Sword of Honor trilogy by Evelyn Waugh

Code Name: Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

A Midnight Clear by William Wharton

All Clear by Connie Willis

Blackout by Connie Willis

Someone Named Eva by Joan M. Wolf

The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk

The Winds of War by Herman Wouk

War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak