100 books like How We Lived Then

By Norman Longmate,

Here are 100 books that How We Lived Then fans have personally recommended if you like How We Lived Then. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

Linda Stewart Henley Author Of Kate's War

From my list on young women in WW II in the UK.

Why am I passionate about this?

Two of my three novels have young women protagonists. I find young adulthood a fascinating time in women’s lives and I enjoy creating a character and putting her in a historical setting. The Second World War offers fertile ground for storytelling, and I grew up south of London after the war. My father’s unpublished memoir, in which he describes an event that he experienced in the war, inspired me to write about it, but I told the story through the eyes of the protagonist, Kate. 

Linda's book list on young women in WW II in the UK

Linda Stewart Henley Why did Linda love this book?

This well-written book taught me a great deal about WW2. I especially appreciated learning more about Mary Churchill, Winston’s youngest daughter, who was seventeen at the start of the war. The author obtained access to her diaries, and he quotes from them often, so I got a feel for the life of a young woman in society during wartime. Mary had a conscience and good insights and became a main character in this historical book.

It’s not a novel, but at times it reads like one.  

By Erik Larson,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Splendid and the Vile as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The author of The Devil in the White City and Dead Wake delivers an intimate chronicle of Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz—an inspiring portrait of courage and leadership in a time of unprecedented crisis
 
“One of [Erik Larson’s] best books yet . . . perfectly timed for the moment.”—Time • “A bravura performance by one of America’s greatest storytellers.”—NPR 
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • Time • Vogue • NPR • The Washington Post • Chicago Tribune • The Globe &…


Book cover of Wartime: Britain 1939-1945

Jillianne Hamilton Author Of The Hobby Shop on Barnaby Street: A Heartwarming WW2 Historical Romance

From my list on daily life on the British homefront during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with English history around age 10 when I began reading historical fiction and non-fiction. I have maintained a history blog, The Lazy Historian, since 2015 and I published a casually written non-fiction book, The Lazy Historian’s Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII, in 2018. When I began writing my Homefront Hearts WWII romance trilogy, I threw myself into researching the well-documented daily lives of the English and the various challenges that came from “keeping calm and carrying on.”

Jillianne's book list on daily life on the British homefront during WWII

Jillianne Hamilton Why did Jillianne love this book?

Written by one of the most respected and well-known British historians living today, Juliet Gardiner’s Wartime Britain is a bulky collection of anecdotes and details on homefront life, ranging from devastating to joyful. She covers many topics in depth and in a very human way: the Blitz, homefront crimes, evacuation, the enlistment process, food rationing, and a lot more. It includes quite a few photos from wartime Britain as well. 

By Juliet Gardiner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Juliet Gardiner's critically acclaimed book - the first in a generation to tell the people's story of the Second World War - offers a compelling and comprehensive account of the pervasiveness of war on the Home Front. The book has been commended for its inclusion of many under-described aspects of the Home Front, and alongside familiar stories of food shortages, evacuation and the arrival of the GIs, are stories of Conscientious Objectors, persecuted Italians living in Britain and Lumber Jills working in the New Forest. Drawing on a multitude of sources, many previously unpublished, she tells the story of those…


Book cover of Millions Like Us: Women's Lives In War And Peace 1939-1949

Jillianne Hamilton Author Of The Hobby Shop on Barnaby Street: A Heartwarming WW2 Historical Romance

From my list on daily life on the British homefront during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with English history around age 10 when I began reading historical fiction and non-fiction. I have maintained a history blog, The Lazy Historian, since 2015 and I published a casually written non-fiction book, The Lazy Historian’s Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII, in 2018. When I began writing my Homefront Hearts WWII romance trilogy, I threw myself into researching the well-documented daily lives of the English and the various challenges that came from “keeping calm and carrying on.”

Jillianne's book list on daily life on the British homefront during WWII

Jillianne Hamilton Why did Jillianne love this book?

Many British women spent the wartime years taking on jobs they would never have had the chance to do before and it provided them with a new confidence and independence that made going back to domestic life a challenge when the war ended. Millions Like Us takes an exhaustive look at wartime work for women, how women dealt with rationing, the struggle of maintaining a marriage while separated, the heartache of having to evacuate children or losing a partner, romance between British women and American troops as well as the awkwardness of marriage when husbands returned from abroad, often times for years. Another hefty tome, this book also includes 24 pages of photos.

By Virginia Nicholson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1942 Cora Johnston is grieving over the death of her young husband, torpedoed in the Atlantic; Aileen Morris is intercepting Luftwaffe communications during the siege of Malta - and Clara Milburn, whose son was captured after Dunkirk, is waiting, and waiting ...

We tend to see the Second World War as a man's war, featuring Spitfire crews and brave deeds on the Normandy beaches. But in conditions of "Total War" millions of women - in the Services and on the Home Front - demonstrated that they were cleverer, more broad-minded and altogether more complex than anyone had ever guessed.…


Book cover of Fashion on the Ration: Style in the Second World War

Jillianne Hamilton Author Of The Hobby Shop on Barnaby Street: A Heartwarming WW2 Historical Romance

From my list on daily life on the British homefront during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with English history around age 10 when I began reading historical fiction and non-fiction. I have maintained a history blog, The Lazy Historian, since 2015 and I published a casually written non-fiction book, The Lazy Historian’s Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII, in 2018. When I began writing my Homefront Hearts WWII romance trilogy, I threw myself into researching the well-documented daily lives of the English and the various challenges that came from “keeping calm and carrying on.”

Jillianne's book list on daily life on the British homefront during WWII

Jillianne Hamilton Why did Jillianne love this book?

In 1941, Britain was shocked to find out that the extra margarine coupons in their food ration books were actually to be used for clothing starting immediately since clothing was now also to be rationed. Clothes rationing, wartime makeup, wedding wear, uniforms (for men and women), restrictions placed on clothing design, fashion houses and magazines, “make-do and mend,” and more are all covered in this dense little book.

By Julie Summers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In September 1939, just three weeks after the outbreak of war, Gladys Mason wrote briefly in her diary about events in Europe: 'Hitler watched German siege of Warsaw. City in flames.' And, she continued, 'Had my wedding dress fitted. Lovely.'

For Gladys Mason, and for thousands of women throughout the long years of the war, fashion was not simply a distraction, but a necessity - and one they weren't going to give up easily. In the face of bombings, conscription, rationing and ludicrous bureaucracy, they maintained a sense of elegance and style with determination and often astonishing ingenuity. From the…


Book cover of When the Siren Wailed

Kate Albus Author Of A Place to Hang the Moon

From my list on England’s World War II evacuations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by England’s World War II evacuations since I was a child. Appropriately enough, I first learned of this extraordinary historical event in a story: it’s the reason the Pevensies are sent to the Professor’s house in C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In the dark days of World War II, more than a million English children boarded trains, buses, and ships, to be picked up and cared for by strangers, in some cases for the duration of the war. It’s a historical event that is as astonishing to me now as it was when I first read of it all those years ago. 

Kate's book list on England’s World War II evacuations

Kate Albus Why did Kate love this book?

Several evacuee novels published in the few decades after the war became beloved classics. Michelle Magorian’s Good Night, Mr. Tom, and Nina Bawden’s Carrie’s War, for example, are extraordinary. But my favorite of this era’s evacuee novels is Noel Streatfeild’s. Laura, Andy, and Tim Clark are none too happy to be sent away from their London home, so it’s a pleasant surprise when they find themselves comfortable in the care of Colonel Launcelot Stranger Stranger (not a typo… that’s his name). But when the Colonel dies suddenly, the Clarks run away back to London and their mum. It’s Streatfeild’s ever-so-dry wit that made me fall for this one, and her wry portrayal of the children’s experience in both the countryside and the Blitz-torn streets of London.

By Noel Streatfeild,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When the Siren Wailed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

A thrilling and moving adventure story about evacuees in World War Two, perfect for readers of Goodnight Mister Tom

'A compelling heart-warming story about three children in the Second World War - I loved it.' Jacqueline Wilson

When war breaks out in September 1939, Laura, Andy and Tim Clark are evacuated to the countryside. The Colonel's comfortable home in Dorset is a huge contrast to their cramped terraced house in London, where their loving parents struggle to put the next meal on the table. Though unused to having children around, the Colonel proves to be a kind and generous, if…


Book cover of The Ops Room Girls

Patricia McBride Author Of The Picture House Girls

From my list on WW2 saga books.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have written one complete WW2 saga series, Lily Baker, and am currently writing a second series, The Library Girls. I am addicted to reading about the period and can lose hours and hours doing factual research as well. My mother was a Cockney, and I became immersed in her wartime stories, mostly about the fun she had but also about her many struggles. I love stories about strong women overcoming adversity, and during WW2, many showed the world how capable and resilient they were. I have a Master's Degree in Professional Writing and write occasional magazine articles.

Patricia's book list on WW2 saga books

Patricia McBride Why did Patricia love this book?

I knew little about the work of Ops girls before reading this book. Their work for the AARP gave me a real insight into the aerial battles in World War Two.

The three main characters are well-drawn, and I soon felt involved in their lives and romances. Reading about their difficult job, I was impressed by their resilience in living with stress day after day. Part of what helped them was their friendships, and this was what made the story heart-warming as well as fascinating.

By Vicki Beeby,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Saga of the Year Award

When Evie's dreams come crashing down, she's determined to still make something of herself in these trying times...

It is 1939 and working class Evie Bishop has received a scholarship to study mathematics at Oxford when tragedy turns her life upside down. Evie must seek a new future for herself and, inspired to contribute to the war effort, joins the Women's Auxiliary Air Force as an Ops Room plotter.

Posted to a fighter station on the Sussex Coast, Evie befriends two other WAAFs - shy, awkward May and flirty, glamorous…


Book cover of Letters from the Lighthouse

Kate Albus Author Of A Place to Hang the Moon

From my list on England’s World War II evacuations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by England’s World War II evacuations since I was a child. Appropriately enough, I first learned of this extraordinary historical event in a story: it’s the reason the Pevensies are sent to the Professor’s house in C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In the dark days of World War II, more than a million English children boarded trains, buses, and ships, to be picked up and cared for by strangers, in some cases for the duration of the war. It’s a historical event that is as astonishing to me now as it was when I first read of it all those years ago. 

Kate's book list on England’s World War II evacuations

Kate Albus Why did Kate love this book?

I adore all of Emma Carroll’s delicious historical fiction, but Letters from the Lighthouse is my favorite. After the Luftwaffe’s bombings separate them from their mother and older sister, Olive and Cliff are evacuated to Devonshire. There, they end up billeted with the shy and enigmatic young lighthouse keeper, Ephraim Pengilly, who is tasked with taking the children in “whether he likes it or not.” Gorgeously atmospheric (the lighthouse alone – “a beacon to guide the lost to safety” – would have been enough for me), Letters from the Lighthouse also features unexpected friendships, the glimmer of a love story, and a sister who may be a spy.

By Emma Carroll,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

We weren't supposed to be going to the pictures that night. We weren't even meant to be outside, not in a blackout, and definitely not when German bombs had been falling on London all month like pennies from a jar.

February, 1941. After months of bombing raids in London, twelve-year-old Olive Bradshaw and her little brother Cliff are evacuated to the Devon coast. The only person with two spare beds is Mr Ephraim, the local lighthouse keeper. But he's not used to company and he certainly doesn't want any evacuees.

Desperate to be helpful, Olive becomes his post-girl, carrying secret…


Book cover of Love Lessons

Clare Harvey Author Of The Escape

From my list on WW2 memoirs by brave and remarkable women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m endlessly fascinated by the stories of young women from the WW2 era, who came of age at the moment the world was torn apart. As an author of wartime historical fiction with strong female characters, it’s vital for me to understand the experience of ordinary women who grew up in such extraordinary times, so I’m always on the hunt for real voices from the era. I’d love to think that in similar circumstances I’d face my challenges with the same humour, resourcefulness, bravery, and humanity as my favourite five female memoirists selected for you here.

Clare's book list on WW2 memoirs by brave and remarkable women

Clare Harvey Why did Clare love this book?

If I’d been a London teenager at the outbreak of WW2, Joan is who I’d choose to have as my best friend. Joan’s memoirs, taken from her actual diaries, which were written secretly during bombing raids, reveal a conflicted, hormonally charged, humorous woman. This snippet gives you an idea: “Well here I sit in the air-raid shelter with screaming bombs falling right and left…I can’t help feeling that each moment may be my last, and as the opposite of death is life, I think I shall get seduced by Rupert tomorrow.” Written with great wit, and full of joie de vivre, Love Lessons is a wonderful read.

By Joan Wyndham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On my way to the studio there was an air-raid. I ran into the brick shelter in the middle of the road. There were poor little Leonard and Agnes sitting on their suitcases, having lost their all. Luckily Leonard had been wearing his best trousers at the time. Madame Arcana was there too wearing a gold brocade toque and a blanket. It was bloody cold and I wanted to pee badly, but couldn't. Leonard wouldn't give me his seat as he believes in the equality of the sexes, so I sat on the floor...'

August 1939. As a teenage Catholic…


Book cover of Human Voices

Janet Beard Author Of The Atomic City Girls

From my list on women’s experiences of World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up near Oak Ridge, Tennessee, I was aware that the city had historical significance but also that it wasn’t particularly famous, at least to people from outside the region. I’ve always been drawn to these sorts of overlooked stories from history, which are, not coincidentally, often women’s stories. Women made up the majority of workers in Oak Ridge during World War II, and for decades afterward, their stories were generally viewed as less important than male-dominated narratives of the war. But I’ve always believed that women’s stories are no less interesting than men’s. These books look at history’s worst conflict from unique perspectives that foreground the female experience. 

Janet's book list on women’s experiences of World War II

Janet Beard Why did Janet love this book?

An unsparing portrait of a cast of characters working for the BBC in London at the outset of the war, this novel is both funny and moving, though Fitzgerald’s keen sense of irony assures that the writing is never sentimental. Even the most minor characters come to life, as they adjust to both the bureaucracy of the wartime BBC and the realities of life during the Blitz. 

By Penelope Fitzgerald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The human voices of Penelope Fitzgerald's novel are those of the BBC in the first years of the Second World War, the time when the Concert Hall was turned into a dormitory for both sexes and the whole building became a target for the enemy bombers.


Book cover of His Majesty's Hope

Joyce Tremel Author Of Death On A Deadline

From my list on historical mysteries with women in non-traditional jobs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated with historical fiction, especially the World War II era, ever since I listened to my mother playing her Big Band Records. I’ve also loved mysteries since I picked up my first Nancy Drew book. Once I discovered historical mysteries, I haven’t been able to separate the two. I’ve recently expanded my interest to include the first world war. There are so many great stories that I’m afraid I’ll never get to read them all. It was really hard to narrow down my list to five books and I hope you’ll love the ones I’ve chosen for you.

Joyce's book list on historical mysteries with women in non-traditional jobs

Joyce Tremel Why did Joyce love this book?

I adore this entire series, and especially this third book. Maggie Hope, who started out as a typist for Winston Churchill is now a full-blown spy for MI-5 and is sent to Germany.

I love seeing Maggie’s development throughout the series. Even when faced with what seem like insurmountable odds, she doesn’t give up. Maggie is the epitome of a woman working not only in a job that was likely considered “man’s work” but doing it splendidly.

By Susan Elia MacNeal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked His Majesty's Hope as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Laurie R. King, and Anne Perry, whip-smart heroine Maggie Hope returns to embark on a clandestine mission behind enemy lines where no one can be trusted, and even the smallest indiscretion can be deadly.

World War II has finally come home to Britain, but it takes more than nightly air raids to rattle intrepid spy and expert code breaker Maggie Hope. After serving as a secret agent to protect Princess Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, Maggie is now an elite member of the Special Operations Executive—a black ops organization designed to…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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