100 books like Life and Fate

By Vasily Grossman,

Here are 100 books that Life and Fate fans have personally recommended if you like Life and Fate. 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 Life After Life

Sam Taylor Author Of The Two Loves of Sophie Strom

From my list on making the impossible feel real.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved stories that rearrange reality in some simple, allusive way, including movies like Groundhog Day or The Truman Show. They remind me of a quote about Italo Calvino that I first read when I was a teenager and have loved ever since: ‘He holds a mirror up to life, then writes about the mirror.’ I tend not to be attracted to stories that simply depict reality and even less so to stories that completely abandon reality for an invented fantasy world. All my favorite fictions take place somewhere in between, in the blending of the real and the impossible. 

Sam's book list on making the impossible feel real

Sam Taylor Why did Sam love this book?

It always seemed unfair to me that not only do we get just one life, but we only get to live it once. So I fell in love with this novel from the moment I read its premise: Ursula Todd is born and dies and is born again… and again… and again.

I love that she doesn’t remember her previous lives except as vague intuitions that help her avoid making the same mistakes twice–and I also love that avoiding those mistakes often means she makes other (often fatal) mistakes. I found this book funny, moving, and thought-provoking, but what I love most about it is the way its down-to-earth, realistic style allowed me to fully inhabit the impossible conceit at its heart. 

By Kate Atkinson,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Life After Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.

Does Ursula's apparently infinite number…


Book cover of The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II

Mirinae Lee Author Of 8 Lives of a Century-Old Trickster

From my list on villainous heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born and grew up in Seoul. My bestselling debut novel has been longlisted for the 2024 Women’s Prize for Fiction and the 2024 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize and shortlisted for the 2024 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. My book is inspired by my great-aunt, one of the oldest women who had escaped alone from North Korea. It is available from Harper Perennial in the U.S. and Virago in the UK. The novel’s translations continue to meet readers worldwide, including in Italy, Romania, Greece, Denmark, Spain, Switzerland, and South Korea.

Mirinae's book list on villainous heroines

Mirinae Lee Why did Mirinae love this book?

The numerous heroines of this polyphonous book are quite different from all the other female protagonists on the list. First, these women are real people, former Soviet soldiers who fought in the Second World War. Secondly, these women weren’t villainous by their nature or deeds.

They had been rather vilified by their male comrades who no longer saw the use of fearless women after their war had been won. Once hailed as patriots, many of these brave women had to face discrimination when they returned home, stigmatized as sinful, unwomanly women with blood on their hands. I’ve never shed so many tears while reading a book. 

By Svetlana Alexievich, Larissa Volokhonsky (translator), Richard Pevear (translator)

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Unwomanly Face of War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A must read' - Margaret Atwood

'It would be hard to find a book that feels more important or original' - Viv Groskop, Observer

Extraordinary stories from Soviet women who fought in the Second World War - from the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

"Why, having stood up for and held their own place in a once absolutely male world, have women not stood up for their history? Their words and feelings? A whole world is hidden from us. Their war remains unknown... I want to write the history of that war. A women's history."

In the late…


Book cover of Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945

Harold J. Goldberg Author Of D-Day in the Pacific: The Battle of Saipan

From my list on on World War II according to my students.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1974 I started my full-time teaching career at a small liberal arts college and realized how much I love teaching and discussing historical events with students. With Russian and Soviet history as my areas of specialization, expanding my course offerings to include World War II was a natural addition. My World War II class became extremely popular and led to demands that I take students to Europe to visit many of the places we discussed in class. Every summer for about ten years I led study-abroad trips to England, France, and Germany. Watching student reactions to Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery made every trip worthwhile.

Harold's book list on on World War II according to my students

Harold J. Goldberg Why did Harold love this book?

Merridale uses archival material and interviews with Soviet war veterans to personalize the war on the Eastern Front. This work moves beyond the number of combatants and tanks to focus on real life at the frontlines. She talks about issues that help the reader “feel” the war: what did soldiers eat given the well-known shortages and privations throughout the USSR; how did soldiers get warm clothes and boots; how did they obtain ammunition and artillery shells and new guns despite the long supply lines; was stealing accepted in the army; what behaviors were tolerated and which ones were punished; how did hierarchy allow officers to get first choice of captured enemy equipment. She reveals how officers might not report all the dead in their unit so they would not lose the lost soldier’s food ration. While Alexander Werth’s Russia at War provides a sweeping view of Soviet organization, suffering, and…

By Catherine Merridale,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Ivan's War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A powerful, groundbreaking narrative of the ordinary Russian soldier's experience of the worst war in history, based on newly revealed sources.

Of the thirty million who fought in the eastern front of World War II, eight million died, driven forward in suicidal charges, shattered by German shells and tanks. They were the men and women of the Red Army, a ragtag mass of soldiers who confronted Europe's most lethal fighting force and by 1945 had defeated it. Sixty years have passed since their epic triumph, but the heart and mind of Ivan -- as the ordinary Russian soldier was called…


Book cover of The Stuff of Soldiers: A History of the Red Army in World War II Through Objects

Francine Hirsch Author Of Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal After World War II

From my list on The experience of Soviet Soldiers in WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

Francine Hirsch is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches courses on Soviet History, Modern European History, and the History of Human Rights. She spent fifteen years researching and writing about the Soviet Union’s experience in World War II and the role that it played in the Nuremberg Trials. Her recently published Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg was awarded the 2021 Certificate of Merit for a Preeminent Contribution to Creative Scholarship from the American Society of International Law.

Francine's book list on The experience of Soviet Soldiers in WW2

Francine Hirsch Why did Francine love this book?

This fascinating history of the Red Army in World War II examines the material objects—the overcoat, the boots, the “thing bag,” the spade, the spoon, the bayonet, and other items—that helped turn civilians into Soviet soldiers. By focusing in on “the quotidian details of provisioning,” Schechter provides a unique view of the Red Army and of soldiers’ everyday lives.

By Brandon M. Schechter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Stuff of Soldiers uses everyday objects to tell the story of the Great Patriotic War as never before. Brandon Schechter attends to a diverse array of things-from spoons to tanks-to show how a wide array of citizens became soldiers, and how the provisioning of material goods separated soldiers from civilians.

Through a fascinating examination of leaflets, proclamations, newspapers, manuals, letters to and from the front, diaries, and interviews, The Stuff of Soldiers reveals how the use of everyday items made it possible to wage war. The dazzling range of documents showcases ethnic diversity, women's particular problems at the front,…


Book cover of Russia at War, 1941-1945: A History

Francine Hirsch Author Of Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal After World War II

From my list on The experience of Soviet Soldiers in WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

Francine Hirsch is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches courses on Soviet History, Modern European History, and the History of Human Rights. She spent fifteen years researching and writing about the Soviet Union’s experience in World War II and the role that it played in the Nuremberg Trials. Her recently published Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg was awarded the 2021 Certificate of Merit for a Preeminent Contribution to Creative Scholarship from the American Society of International Law.

Francine's book list on The experience of Soviet Soldiers in WW2

Francine Hirsch Why did Francine love this book?

This vivid history of the Soviet Union at war by BBC journalist Alexander Werth is worth picking up for the Stalingrad chapters alone. In January 1943, Werth set out by train from Moscow to Stalingrad with a small group of correspondents. His conversations with Russian soldiers, officers, nurses, and railwaymen about the fighting, the Germans, and the Soviet defense of the city are woven into these chapters and make for extremely engaging reading.

By Alexander Werth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Russia at War, 1941-1945 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1941, Russian-born British journalist Alexander Werth observed the unfolding of the Soviet-German conflict with his own eyes. What followed was the widely acclaimed book, Russia at War, first printed in 1964. At once a history of facts, a collection of interviews, and a document of the human condition, Russia at War is a stunning, modern classic that chronicles the savagery and struggles on Russian soil during the most incredible military conflict in modern history.

As a behind-the-scenes eyewitness to the pivotal, shattering events as they occurred, Werth chronicles with vivid detail the hardships of everyday citizens, massive military operations,…


Book cover of The Ravine: A Family, a Photograph, a Holocaust Massacre Revealed

Isabel Vincent Author Of Overture of Hope: Two Sisters' Daring Plan that Saved Opera's Jewish Stars from the Third Reich

From my list on heroes and anti-heroes in WW2 and the Holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became interested in the Holocaust and the Second World War during my senior year of high school. I took a literature class entitled “Man’s Inhumanity to Man,” which focused a great deal on the literature that emerged from the Holocaust. At the end of the year, I had the great honor to meet author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel who had actually read my essay (my teacher knew him, and gave it to him to read) and encouraged me to keep writing. I am fascinated by stories of survival and the quiet heroism that characterized women like Ida and Louise Cook.

Isabel's book list on heroes and anti-heroes in WW2 and the Holocaust

Isabel Vincent Why did Isabel love this book?

Historian Wendy Lower focuses on a single photograph taken in October 1941 that shows a group of soldiers shooting a woman who clutches the hand of a little boy just before they fall into a mass grave in Miropol, Ukraine.

This is a gripping and impeccably researched account of the killers, the victims, and the photographer who took the haunting image. Lower combs through public records and archives, and relies on interviews with local residents to reconstruct mass atrocities. Lower’s descriptions of her dogged determination to reconstruct the scene of the crime reads like a thriller.

By Wendy Lower,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Ravine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner, 2022 National Jewish Book Award

Shortlist, 2022 Wingate Literary Prize

A single photograph—an exceptionally rare “action shot” documenting the horrific final moment of the murder of a family—drives a riveting process of discovery for a gifted Holocaust scholar


In 2009, the acclaimed author of Hitler’s Furies was shown a photograph just brought to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The documentation of the Holocaust is vast, but there are virtually no images of a Jewish family at the actual moment of murder, in this case by German officials and Ukrainian collaborators. A Ukrainian shooter’s rifle is inches from a…


Book cover of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin

Ursula Wong Author Of Amber Wolf

From my list on WWII and Eastern Europe (that you may not know about).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Lithuanian-American with a Chinese name, thanks to my husband. Thirty years ago, I found papers among my uncle’s possessions telling a WWII story about our ancestral Lithuania. I had heard about it in broad terms, but I could hardly believe what I was reading. I spent years validating the material. The result was Amber Wolf, a historical novel about a war within the war: the fight against the Russian occupation of Eastern Europe. While many countries were involved in separate struggles, I focused on Lithuania and their David and Goliath fight against the Russian army. After all this time, the story still moves me.

Ursula's book list on WWII and Eastern Europe (that you may not know about)

Ursula Wong Why did Ursula love this book?

Bloodlands is a story about the dead. Using archives made available after the break-up of the Soviet Union, Mr. Snyder sheds light on both Stalin’s and Hitler’s brutality.

In a confined area that includes just eastern Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic countries, 14 million civilians died from the 1930s to the end of the war. Most were either starved or shot. Even more startling were the plans to kill millions more.

Stalin said, “a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic.” Mr. Snyder reminds us of the tragedy.

By Timothy Snyder,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Bloodlands as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Americans call the Second World War "the Good War." But before it even began, America's ally Stalin had killed millions of his own citizens-and kept killing them during and after the war. Before Hitler was defeated, he had murdered six million Jews and nearly as many other Europeans. At war's end, German and Soviet killing sites fell behind the Iron Curtain, leaving the history of mass killing in darkness.
?
Assiduously researched, deeply humane, and utterly definitive, Bloodlands is a new kind of European history, presenting the mass murders committed by the Nazi and Stalinist regimes as two aspects of…


Book cover of The Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest's Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews

Jeffrey Veidlinger Author Of In the Midst of Civilized Europe: The Pogroms of 1918-1921 and the Onset of the Holocaust

From my list on the Holocaust in Ukraine.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father survived the Holocaust in Budapest and my mother’s immediate family fled Poland just before she was born, leaving behind a large extended family. I grew up witnessing the trauma of suffering and loss. As a professional historian, I had already written several books on Russian-Jewish history, mostly on culture and theater, when I joined a group that was interviewing Yiddish-speaking Holocaust survivors in Ukraine. Since 2014, I have been teaching courses on the Holocaust at the University of Michigan and soon after became involved with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, where I serve on the Academic Committee.

Jeffrey's book list on the Holocaust in Ukraine

Jeffrey Veidlinger Why did Jeffrey love this book?

In deeply personal terms, Father Desbois describes how his curiosity about his grandfather’s incarceration in Ukraine led him to study the atrocities committed there against the Jews. The book is written in an almost conversational style, creating a sense of intimacy between Father Desbois and the reader. Desbois is able to persuade those who witnessed atrocities to open up and confess what they have seen and what they remember. Together with a team of ballistic experts, interpreters, historians, and archaeologists, he identified numerous sites of mass graves. Desbois, who popularized the term “The Holocaust by Bullets,” has been instrumental in expanding our understanding of the Holocaust beyond the death camps and the ghettos to the more intimate killings that took place in Ukraine and elsewhere in the Soviet Union.

By Patrick Desbois,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Holocaust by Bullets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this heart-wrenching book, Father Patrick Desbois documents the daunting task of identifying and examining all the sites where Jews were exterminated by Nazi mobile units in the Ukraine in WWII. Using innovative methodology, interviews, and ballistic evidence, he has determined the location of many mass gravesites with the goal of providing proper burials for the victims of the forgotten Ukrainian Holocaust. Compiling new archival material and many eye-witness accounts, Desbois has put together the first definitive account of one of history's bloodiest chapters.Published with the support of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.


Book cover of Night

James Taing Author Of Under the Naga Tail: A True Story of Survival, Bravery, and Escape from the Cambodian Genocide

From my list on surviving impossible odds.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since arriving as a refugee in America, my father, Mae Bunseng has always wanted to tell his story. It would take many decades later for me, as I was coming of age, to consider what exactly my father had lived through. I was shocked at what he told me and knew his story had to be told. Thus over a decade ago I worked with my him to what eventually became Under the Naga Tail. In addition to this book, along the way, a short documentary called Ghost Mountain was created and released on PBS, which is accessible for streaming here. The film would win the best documentary at the HAAPI Film Festival.

James' book list on surviving impossible odds

James Taing Why did James love this book?

The masterpiece memoir by Elie Wiesel is an astonishingly short autobiographical of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. His account of surviving a concentration camp is important as any other, a narrative that is chilling, yet with compassion put into each word. Night is a book that has to be read. Elie would become an important human rights activist and this continued beyond the subject matter of the Holocaust. During the refugee crisis on the Thai-Cambodia border in 1980, he and several other notables (such as Joan Baez, Liv Ullman, and Bayard Rustin), mobilized to bring relief assistance for Cambodians fleeing the dangerous borders of their country. When asked by a journalist why help Cambodia, he replied, “When I needed people to come, they didn't. That's why I am here.” It demonstrated Elie’s resolve and will to prevent the next genocide from happening somewhere else.

By Elie Wiesel, Marion Wiesel (translator),

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Born into a Jewish ghetto in Hungary, as a child, Elie Wiesel was sent to the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald. This is his account of that atrocity: the ever-increasing horrors he endured, the loss of his family and his struggle to survive in a world that stripped him of humanity, dignity and faith. Describing in simple terms the tragic murder of a people from a survivor's perspective, Night is among the most personal, intimate and poignant of all accounts of the Holocaust. A compelling consideration of the darkest side of human nature and the enduring power of…


Book cover of Catch-22

Daniel Fryer Author Of How to Cope with Almost Anything with Hypnotherapy: Simple Ideas to Enhance Your Wellbeing and Resilience

From my list on boost your wellbeing and heal your soul.

Why am I passionate about this?

I could say I’ve had a hard life (and I have), but who hasn’t? Life is one adversity after another, and we need all the help we can get. Without that help, moods suffer, hope falters, and our souls are diminished. During my own personal journey through this quagmire called life, I have often been lifted up and out of the mud whilst reading the books I suggest below and more. These books either made me laugh and cry, made me think, or made me change the way I approached things. Quite often, they did all four at the same time. Their insights were invaluable. 

Daniel's book list on boost your wellbeing and heal your soul

Daniel Fryer Why did Daniel love this book?

Whilst on humour (including satire): it is an important part of REBT. Humor is another one of those character strengths in positive psychology (again, good for you when used appropriately). It’s not for nothing that laughter is called the best medicine (in fact, I wrote my MSc dissertation on the use of humor in psychotherapy).

Humor, especially satire, and wordplay have helped me a lot in life. Regarding those two things, this book is the best bar none. Both funny and tragic (which sums life up pretty well), considering how much saber rattling is happening today, it’s as relevant now as it has always been.

I'm sure this book will change you for the better. It may also have you challenging authority a little more than you currently do (which alone will work wonders for your mental health and well-being). 

By Joseph Heller,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Catch-22 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Explosive, subversive, wild and funny, 50 years on the novel's strength is undiminished. Reading Joseph Heller's classic satire is nothing less than a rite of passage.

Set in the closing months of World War II, this is the story of a bombardier named Yossarian who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. His real problem is not the enemy - it is his own army which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. If Yossarian makes any attempts to excuse himself from the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Soviet Union, the Holocaust, and Ukraine?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Soviet Union, the Holocaust, and Ukraine.

The Soviet Union Explore 354 books about the Soviet Union
The Holocaust Explore 394 books about the Holocaust
Ukraine Explore 91 books about Ukraine