Bookstore Kryptonite: European/World War History

Rachel Manwill

Staff Writer

Rachel Manwill is an editor, writer, and professional nomad. Twice a year, she runs the #24in48 readathon, during which she does almost no reading. She's always looking for an excuse to recommend a book, whether you ask her for one or not. When she's not ranting about comma usage for her day job as a corporate editor, she's usually got an audiobook in her ears and a puppy in her lap. Blog: A Home Between Pages Twitter: @rachelmanwill

By now, if you’re a fairly regular reader of Book Riot, you’re familiar with our ongoing Genre Kryptonite series, in which a contributor discusses the genre of books they absolutely cannot say no to. No matter if its Books About Libraries or Badass Female Revenge Thrillers, there are certain books that ring our individual bells.

But what about those books that we can’t help but buy (or check out from the library) that we tell ourselves we’re absolutely going to be totally into this time, but inevitably languish unread? I know we all have them. Books that look fascinating or exciting or intellectual and we just know we’ll love them…if only we would read one.

For me, the books that fall into this category are of the “I really want to know more about this particular part of history” books, specifically modern European history. This typically is the period from about the Industrial Age to the present, and because its mostly European history in the 20th century, that also naturally encompasses the history of both World Wars.

Guys, I have SO. MANY. of these books on my shelves. Books like In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin; To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918; The Storm Of War: A New History Of The Second World War; When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry; Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945; Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World; The Coming of the Third Reich. And on and on, ad naseaum.

I’m sure that all of these books are fascinating and illuminate this particular time period and setting in a way that I would find interesting. I know that I WANT to know this stuff. I AM fascinated and interested. That’s why I buy them and put them on my shelves. But when it comes to choosing my next read? I bypass the 600-page historical tome every time.

And even when I know this about myself, I still can’t seem to stop buying them. This is the time, I tell myself, this is the time I will actually read Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War. 

What are your bookstore weaknesses? What are the books you continue to buy despite all evidence that you won’t read them?