100 books like A Boy in Winter

By Rachel Seiffert,

Here are 100 books that A Boy in Winter fans have personally recommended if you like A Boy in Winter. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of All the Light We Cannot See

Michael Allan Scott Author Of Facing North, Headed South

From my list on brilliant genre defying storytelling.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m of the opinion that good writers draw from life experience. Here are the broad strokes: a Boy Scout reporter at the 1964 national Jamboree, a drummer in country, rock, and jazz bands, a SCUBA instructor, a commercial real estate developer, a drug addict, and an inmate in the penal system. I’ve been reading and writing almost from day one. Most of my early work is crap. I’ve learned the hard way what makes a story worth telling and how best to tell it. Read my recommendations and decide for yourself. After all, it’s your opinion that counts.  

Michael's book list on brilliant genre defying storytelling

Michael Allan Scott Why did Michael love this book?

This book has everything I look for in great storytelling in spades: real people doing their best to cope with extraordinary circumstances, masterfully crafted by an author who loves his work.

Some will call this a historical novel; some will pigeonhole it as a war novel. In my view, it easily exceeds all such classifications. It is an incredible piece of work. I use this book for reference, to remind me how it’s done. 

By Anthony Doerr,

Why should I read it?

40 authors picked All the Light We Cannot See as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE 2015 PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR FICTION

A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II

Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.'

For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic…


Book cover of A Mad Desire to Dance

Heinz Kohler Author Of My Name Was Five: A Novel of the Second World War

From my list on WW2 through the eyes of children.

Why am I passionate about this?

Heinz Kohler was born in Berlin, Germany, where he grew up before and during World War II. By the war's end, he found himself in rural East Germany and spent years watching the Nazi tyranny give way to a Communist one. Since 1961, he taught economics at Amherst College, while also logging thousands of flight hours as a commercial pilot. These numerous experiences come to life in a powerful tale of war and its aftermath. As David R. Mayhew, Yale University Sterling Professor of Political Science, put it “In novelistic form, this is a riveting child’s-eye account of growing up in Germany under the Nazis and then the Russians. Laced with extraordinary photos and posters from these times, it combines memory with testimony.”

Heinz's book list on WW2 through the eyes of children

Heinz Kohler Why did Heinz love this book?

A beautiful novel about Doriel, a European expatriate living in New York, who was a hidden child during the war, while his mother was a member of the Resistance, and who is still haunted by his parents' secrets. A psychoanalyst finally helps him deal with his own ghosts, which reminds me of decades of PTSD I myself inherited from that war and the associated sufferings of family and friends I had to witness.

By Elie Wiesel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Mad Desire to Dance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now in paperback, Wiesel’s newest novel “reminds us, with force, that his writing is alive and strong. The master has once again found a startling freshness.”—Le Monde des Livres
 
A European expatriate living in New York, Doriel suffers from a profound sense of desperation and loss. His mother, a member of the Resistance, survived World War II only to die soon after in France in an accident, together with his father. Doriel was a hidden child during the war, and his knowledge of the Holocaust is largely limited to what he finds in movies, newsreels, and books. Doriel’s parents and…


Book cover of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Taryn R. Hutchison Author Of One Degree of Freedom

From my list on teens in Eastern Europe during WWII or the Cold War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived in Eastern Europe for the decade immediately after the Communist regimes collapsed. It was the most exhilarating time of my life. Originally, I titled my book list “The best teen novels set in Romania during the Cold War.” But I could only come up with three (including my own). So, I expanded my search to include Eastern Europe starting in WWII. I’m the author of three books: two nonfiction and one young adult historical fiction. I now live in western North Carolina with my husband, hold an MA in Writing, and teach at the Writing Center at a small local university. 

Taryn's book list on teens in Eastern Europe during WWII or the Cold War

Taryn R. Hutchison Why did Taryn love this book?

This middle grade book takes place during WWII. The story takes the reader from Berlin to Poland, told through the eyes of a young German boy who encounters a Jewish boy on the other side of a tall fence. I loved this book because we who know about the depravity and horror of Auschwitz can see the bleak reality from a perspective of an innocent child: a boy who thinks his thin Jewish friend is dressed in pajamas.

By John Boyne,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Boy in the Striped Pajamas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

The story of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is very difficult to describe. Usually we give some clues about the book on the cover, but in this case we think that would spoil the reading of the book. We think it is important that you start to read without knowing what it is about.

If you do start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine-year-old boy called Bruno. And sooner or later you will arrive with Bruno at a fence.

We hope you never have to cross such a fence.


Book cover of Surviving the Fatherland: A True Coming-Of-Age Love Story Set in WWII Germany

Heinz Kohler Author Of My Name Was Five: A Novel of the Second World War

From my list on WW2 through the eyes of children.

Why am I passionate about this?

Heinz Kohler was born in Berlin, Germany, where he grew up before and during World War II. By the war's end, he found himself in rural East Germany and spent years watching the Nazi tyranny give way to a Communist one. Since 1961, he taught economics at Amherst College, while also logging thousands of flight hours as a commercial pilot. These numerous experiences come to life in a powerful tale of war and its aftermath. As David R. Mayhew, Yale University Sterling Professor of Political Science, put it “In novelistic form, this is a riveting child’s-eye account of growing up in Germany under the Nazis and then the Russians. Laced with extraordinary photos and posters from these times, it combines memory with testimony.”

Heinz's book list on WW2 through the eyes of children

Heinz Kohler Why did Heinz love this book?

Solingen, Germany, 1940: Here begins the story of 7-year old Lilly and 12-year old Günter whose lives spiral out of control as the war escalates, bombs begin to rain and people die. A sweeping family saga of love, betrayal, and PTSD similar to the one I witnessed as well.

By Annette Oppenlander,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Surviving the Fatherland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner/Nominee of eight awards

“This book needs to join the ranks of the classic survivor stories of WWII such as ‘Diary of Anne Frank’ and ‘Man's Search for Meaning’. It is truly that amazing!” InD'tale Magazine

“This type of raw, articulate, history-based storytelling pays homage to the war children who bore witness while struggling to survive.” Publishers Weekly (PW)

Based on a true story and set against the epic panorama of WWII, SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND is a sweeping saga of family, love, and betrayal that illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the children's war - a tale of…


Book cover of Borderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine

Diane Chandler Author Of The Road To Donetsk

From my list on capturing the spirit of the Ukrainian people.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for Ukraine and its incredible people began when I managed a European Union aid programme there in the 1990s. Ukraine had just become an independent nation after the collapse of the Soviet Union and we were supporting its path to democracy. I travelled throughout this stunning country umpteen times and met thousands of warm, welcoming people, who quickly found their way into my heart. The Road to Donetsk is my tribute to Ukraine. It won the 2016 People’s Book Prize for Fiction, an award I dedicated to the Ukrainian people. Today, my memories of all those I met weigh heavily on my mind. 

Diane's book list on capturing the spirit of the Ukrainian people

Diane Chandler Why did Diane love this book?

I loved this highly readable history of Ukraine. Written in the early 1990s, when I too worked in Ukraine, Borderland begins with the newly independent nation’s struggle to build itself a national identity. Reid captures this time and its people so well – the peasant women in the covered market, the old men playing chess in Independent Square. Ukraine is literally translated as, ‘on the edge’ or ‘borderland’ and Reid explores the toll of its history – pograms, famine, purges, war, Holocaust, and Chernobyl… She travels through villages of whitewashed cottages, bringing their hardy inhabitants to life with her often quirky observations. She meets old folk who were alive during the famine of 1932/33, others who survived the gas chambers. At every turn, the magnificent Ukrainian spirit is in vibrant evidence. 

By Anna Reid,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Borderland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Borderland tells the story of Ukraine. A thousand years ago it was the center of the first great Slav civilization, Kievan Rus. In 1240, the Mongols invaded from the east, and for the next seven centureies, Ukraine was split between warring neighbors: Lithuanians, Poles, Russians, Austrians, and Tatars. Again and again, borderland turned into battlefield: during the Cossack risings of the seventeenth century, Russia's wars with Sweden in the eighteenth, the Civil War of 1918--1920, and under Nazi occupation. Ukraine finally won independence in 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Bigger than France and a populous as Britain,…


Book cover of The Survivor of Babi Yar

Diane Chandler Author Of The Road To Donetsk

From my list on capturing the spirit of the Ukrainian people.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for Ukraine and its incredible people began when I managed a European Union aid programme there in the 1990s. Ukraine had just become an independent nation after the collapse of the Soviet Union and we were supporting its path to democracy. I travelled throughout this stunning country umpteen times and met thousands of warm, welcoming people, who quickly found their way into my heart. The Road to Donetsk is my tribute to Ukraine. It won the 2016 People’s Book Prize for Fiction, an award I dedicated to the Ukrainian people. Today, my memories of all those I met weigh heavily on my mind. 

Diane's book list on capturing the spirit of the Ukrainian people

Diane Chandler Why did Diane love this book?

I read this book as research for my own novel and found it an incredibly moving fictional account of one Jewish Ukrainian boy’s survival in WWII. Yar means ‘ravine’ and, in 1941, over the course of just two days, 33,000 Ukrainian Jews were lined up by German occupiers on the edge of Babi Yar outside Kyiv and machine-gunned, falling then into their mass grave. His whole family is murdered, but eighteen-year-old Solomon somehow survives this horror and escapes to the north of Kyiv, where he falls in with a group of Jewish partisans. Their mission is to destroy Nazis and to ensure the survival of Jews and Judaism. Hiding out in a dense forest, they subsist only with the selfless help of a non-Jewish Ukrainian couple and a Catholic priest. 

By Othniel J. Seiden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Survivor of Babi Yar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Appears unread


Book cover of Grey Bees

Jane Rogoyska Author Of Surviving Katyn: Stalin's Polish Massacre and the Search for Truth

From my list on the recent history of Russia and Ukraine.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent the past few years writing about the 1940 Katyń Massacre of 22,000 Polish prisoners of war by Stalin’s NKVD and the decades-long cover-up of their crime. My research has taken me far and wide across the recent history of eastern Europe but until the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 I was convinced the events I was studying belonged firmly in the past. Now, more than ever, we need to make an effort to understand the ways in which history informs the present. I most admire writers who combine a forensic attention to detail with a deep compassion for the individuals at the heart of every story.

Jane's book list on the recent history of Russia and Ukraine

Jane Rogoyska Why did Jane love this book?

Kurkov’s novel is about a middle-aged beekeeper who embarks on a Kafka-esque road trip across the conflict-ridden regions of eastern Ukraine to find pollen for his bees. This book provides a unique insight into the absurdity and tragedy of a conflict that pre-dates the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 by 8 years, but has been largely ignored by the outside world. 

By Andrey Kurkov, Boris Dralyuk (translator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Grey Bees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With a warm yet political humor, Ukraine’s most famous novelist presents a balanced and illuminating portrait of modern conflict.



Little Starhorodivka, a village of three streets, lies in Ukraine's Grey Zone, the no-man's-land between loyalist and separatist forces. Thanks to the lukewarm war of sporadic violence and constant propaganda that has been dragging on for years, only two residents remain: retired safety inspector turned beekeeper Sergey Sergeyich and Pashka, a rival from his schooldays. With little food and no electricity, under constant threat of bombardment, Sergeyich's one remaining pleasure is his bees. As spring approaches, he knows he must take…


Book cover of The Winding Path

Diane Chandler Author Of The Road To Donetsk

From my list on capturing the spirit of the Ukrainian people.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for Ukraine and its incredible people began when I managed a European Union aid programme there in the 1990s. Ukraine had just become an independent nation after the collapse of the Soviet Union and we were supporting its path to democracy. I travelled throughout this stunning country umpteen times and met thousands of warm, welcoming people, who quickly found their way into my heart. The Road to Donetsk is my tribute to Ukraine. It won the 2016 People’s Book Prize for Fiction, an award I dedicated to the Ukrainian people. Today, my memories of all those I met weigh heavily on my mind. 

Diane's book list on capturing the spirit of the Ukrainian people

Diane Chandler Why did Diane love this book?

For me, this engaging memoir of a Ukrainian who fought in WWII reads like a personal diary, such is the informality of Wenger’s skillful storytelling. In 1943, at the tender age of 20, he was forced from his village into the German Baudienst (building service). Conditions were miserable and when the Ukrainian Division was recruiting soldiers, he joined up, German uniform and all. Hunger, bitter cold, and flea-ridden beds were mild endurances compared to other horrors he experienced; early on, he was forced to witness a mass execution of Jews, later to join a firing squad against his friends. Wenger finally ended up in a British POW camp in Scotland, then married and settled in the UK. This incredible man turned 99 in February 2022, the day before Russia invaded Ukraine. 

By Jaroslaw Wenger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Winding Path as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of The Lost: The Search for Six of Six Million

Shelley Puhak Author Of The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry That Forged the Medieval World

From my list on nonfiction about overlooked historical figures.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I was drawn to the silences in family stories and as a young adult, the gaps in official records. Now I’m a former English professor turned full-time writer who is fascinated with who gets written out of history, and why. I love exploring overlooked lives, especially women’s lives—from Stalin’s female relatives to nineteenth-century shopgirls, and most recently, a pair of early medieval queens.

Shelley's book list on nonfiction about overlooked historical figures

Shelley Puhak Why did Shelley love this book?

If you’ve ever found yourself obsessed with a family mystery, you’ll be captivated by The Lost. Mendelsohn had always wondered what happened to his great-uncle and aunt, and their four daughters, during the Holocaust. His search starts with ordinary genealogical curiosity but quickly spirals into an epic quest. I admire Mendelsohn’s elegant, lyrical prose and was swept up in his ruminations on what we owe the past. His discoveries are heartbreaking but they also spark hope—by rescuing one ordinary family from oblivion.

By Daniel Mendelsohn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lost as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A writer's search for his family's tragic past in World War II becomes a remarkably original and riveting epic, brilliantly exploring the nature of time and memory.

'The Lost' begins as the story of a boy who grew up in a family haunted by the disappearance of six relatives during the Holocaust - an unmentionable subject that gripped his imagination from earliest childhood. Decades later, spurred by the discovery of a cache of desperate letters written to his grandfather in 1939, Daniel Mendelsohn sets out to find the remaining eyewitnesses to his relative's fates. The quest takes him to a…


Book cover of To the Edge of Sorrow

Sharon Hart-Green Author Of Come Back for Me

From my list on Jewish survival under the Nazis.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been drawn to stories about Jewish survival. My mother’s family were Yiddish-speaking Jews from Belarus, and as a child I was often asking questions about what their world was like before it was destroyed. I later studied at Brandeis University where I earned my doctorate in Hebrew and Yiddish Literature, and then taught Jewish Literature at the University of Toronto. When my novel Come Back for Me was published, it felt as though many of my lifelong passions had finally come together in one book. Yet I’m still asking questions. My second novel (almost completed!) continues my quest to further my knowledge of all that was lost.

Sharon's book list on Jewish survival under the Nazis

Sharon Hart-Green Why did Sharon love this book?

This is the kind of novel that stays with you long after you finish reading it.

It shows how some individuals can survive even the worst circumstances if they possess tenacity, hope, and perhaps most importantly, the determination to work together as a group.

To the Edge of Sorrow is the story of a disparate group of Jewish partisans during World War Two who use whatever skills they possess to survive Nazi tyranny. This not only involves foraging for food or constructing temporary shelter. Some also devote themselves to spiritual and intellectual pursuits, despite their degraded circumstances.

I found it particularly inspiring to read about the strength and endurance of the Jewish spirit despite the attempt by the Nazi regime to obliterate the entirety of Jewish life in Europe.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Ukraine, the Holocaust, and Jewish history?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Ukraine, the Holocaust, and Jewish history.

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