100 books like The Book Thief

By Markus Zusak,

Here are 100 books that The Book Thief fans have personally recommended if you like The Book Thief. 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 A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II

David Snell Author Of Sing to Silent Stones: Part One

From my list on wartime books about families torn apart by the conflict in WW1 and WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

My reading is almost entirely influenced by my own family’s extraordinary history. My mother and father-in-law were both illegitimate. Both suffered for the fact and my father-in-law was 11 years old when he first found out and was reunited with his mother, albeit on a second-class basis compared to his half siblings. My mother trained bomb aimers. My father flew Lancaster bombers and was just 19 years old in the skies above wartime Berlin. My own books combine history, my personal experiences, and my family’s past to weave wartime stories exploring the strains that those conflicts imposed on friendships.

David's book list on wartime books about families torn apart by the conflict in WW1 and WW2

David Snell Why did David love this book?

What I loved about this book is that it is the true story of an American woman living in Nazi-occupied France, where she organised and ran resistance groups and led them in action.

The book, though factual, reads like a fictional novel, and her exploits and shear "daring do" almost beggar belief. She only had one leg, a fact that many who met her were completely unaware of, yet she crossed the Pyrenees on foot in winter!

It didn’t surprise me to find out that the men who "ran" the operations from London and Washington denigrated her achievements and consigned her to obscurity, describing her in the words of the book’s title. But she was a truly amazing heroine, and I would have loved to have met her.

By Sonia Purnell,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked A Woman of No Importance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Chosen as a BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR by NPR, the New York Public Library, Amazon, the Seattle Times, the Washington Independent Review of Books, PopSugar, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, BookBrowse, the Spectator, and the Times of London

Winner of the Plutarch Award for Best Biography

"Excellent...This book is as riveting as any thriller, and as hard to put down." -- The New York Times Book Review

"A compelling biography of a masterful spy, and a reminder of what can be done with a few brave people -- and a little resistance." - NPR


Book cover of The Book of Lost Names

Rhys Bowen Author Of The Paris Assignment

From my list on brave women in WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Rhys Bowen, New York Times best selling author of two historical mystery series and several Internationally best selling historical novels. Many of these take place in and around World War II. I have particularly focused on the bravery of ordinary women, the unsung heroines who risked their lives against impossible odds. My stories take place in France, Italy, as well as, England so these books resonated with me.

Rhys' book list on brave women in WWII

Rhys Bowen Why did Rhys love this book?

I have been so impressed at the risks ordinary people took to save their Jewish friends and neighbors during WWII. This is one such story.

I love books set in two time periods, and this one takes us from the present to the time of war, with the heroine, now an old woman, who was a forger in Nazi Europe coming across a book of codes, revealing the true names of escaping Jewish children. 

By Kristin Harmel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Throughout the 1940s, forgers helped thousands of children escape Nazi France. In this instant New York Times bestseller, Kristin Harmel reimagines their story...

Perfect for readers of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Librarian of Auschwitz and The Book Thief.

In 1942, Eva is forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children escaping to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Remy, Eva realises she must find a way to preserve…

Book cover of Alone in Berlin

Patrick W. O'Bryon Author Of Corridor of Darkness

From my list on espionage and resistance in Hitler's Third Reich.

Why am I passionate about this?

While a graduate student and then an army interpreter in Germany, I listened to reminiscences from both Third Reich military veterans and former French resistance fighters. Their tales picked up where my father's stories of pre-war European life always ended, and my fascination with this history knew no bounds. On occasion I would conceal my American identity and mentally play the spy as I traversed Europe solo. A dozen years later upon the death of my father, I learned from my mother his great secret: he had concealed his wartime life as an American spy inside the Reich. His private journals telling of bravery and intrigue inspire each of my novels.

Patrick's book list on espionage and resistance in Hitler's Third Reich

Patrick W. O'Bryon Why did Patrick love this book?

Often overlooked by today's readers, this fine novel of 1940 Berlin by an author who never left Nazi Germany offers a realistic and touching portrayal of ordinary working citizens. A married couple whose life is upended by the loss of a soldier son encounters persistent Nazi propaganda discrediting their sacrifice. Inspired by actual historical figures, the protagonists courageously turn to modest acts of resistance, drawing the unrelenting focus of a Gestapo inspector determined to solve the case to further his career. Fallada's masterful storytelling and unforgettable characters will put you inside a righteous struggle to resist the oppressive state. This is a classic from an author who lived the place and time, and it shouldn't be missed

By Hans Fallada,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Alone in Berlin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A gripping portrait of life in wartime Berlin and a vividly theatrical study of how paranoia can warp a society gripped by the fear of the night-time knock on the door.

Based on true events, Hans Fallada's Alone In Berlin follows a quietly courageous couple, Otto and Anna Quangel who, in dealing with their own heartbreak, stand up to the brutal reality of the Nazi regime. With the smallest of acts, they defy Hitler's rule with extraordinary bravery, facing the gravest of consequences.

Translated and Adapted by Alistair Beaton (Feelgood, The Trial Of Tony Blair), this timely story of the…

Book cover of All the Light We Cannot See

Bruce Borgos Author Of The Bitter Past

From my list on a protagonist who has extraordinary capabilities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved peculiar heroes and heroines. Characters with strange gifts and an equal number of challenges. It started with Sherlock Holmes, whose mind fascinated me. As a child, I gravitated to the unnatural protagonist, Tarzan, in the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels and Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I was never a big fan of Superman, I preferred people who adapted quickly to new surroundings and could think on their feet. Once I began my writing career, I kept those protagonists in my mind. Four novels in, I do my best to capture their spirit and determination to overcome whatever lands in front of them.

Bruce's book list on a protagonist who has extraordinary capabilities

Bruce Borgos Why did Bruce love this book?

I loved this book because it’s a World War II story (my favorite time period), which I can’t get enough of, and its protagonist, Marie-Laure, is a young blind girl. By the time she’s twelve, she has learned to navigate Nazi-occupied Paris from a miniature of the city her father has built for her.

This is a girl with many fears, her blindness being just one, but she pushes through them all in order to help her country overcome its worst nightmare. Her bravery is off the charts!

By Anthony Doerr,

Why should I read it?

38 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?


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 Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Johanna van Zanten Author Of The Imposter

From my list on how the Second World War affected regular people and their families.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child with older sisters, I read their books beyond my age level under the blankets with a flashlight in bed at night. I became a reading addict. Raised in The Netherlands with the Second World War casting its large shadow on our lives, I only became interested, after my parents were gone, in how people survived and had to find their courage under impossible circumstances. They would never talk about those occupation years. My search into history led me to find the answers.

Johanna's book list on how the Second World War affected regular people and their families

Johanna van Zanten Why did Johanna love this book?

I loved this non-fiction book, and reading it, I often broke down in tears, realizing this personal and innocent true teenage story was all leading up to the tremendous death of millions of innocent people.

This is the only Anne Frank book that I recommend to everybody from a young age. It is THE introduction to the real events of World War 2.

By Anne Frank, B.M. Mooyaart (translator),

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Anne Frank as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

With 30 per cent more material than previous editions, this new contemporary and fully anglicized translation gives the reader a deeper insight into Anne's world. Publication of the unabridged Definitive Edition on Penguin Audiobook, read by Helena Bonham-Carter, coincides.

Book cover of The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Jacqueline Kademian Author Of Soul Therapy: A 365 day journal for self exploration, healing and reflection

From my list on start on a path of self-discovery and build a new you.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Jacqueline Kademian, a licensed marriage & family therapist and author. With over 10 years of experience providing therapy, I am passionate about helping others. I am also passionate about making therapeutic concepts accessible and ready to utilize at home. I have taken my own teachings and created self-discovery journals for others to enjoy. Journaling is such an amazing skill and way to get to know yourself.

Jacqueline's book list on start on a path of self-discovery and build a new you

Jacqueline Kademian Why did Jacqueline love this book?

I recommend this book because it is a deep dive into trauma and how it can impact all of our lives. This book helps the reader understand the consequences of trauma and how to ultimately heal from the trauma. In my personal and professional opinion, everyone should read this book to better learn about themselves.

The key to growing and becoming better daily is to have self-awareness. This book helped me develop self-awareness about others and my clients as well. I have learned how to be more empathetic towards others by reading this book.

By Bessel Van Der Kolk,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked The Body Keeps the Score as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times bestseller

"Essential reading for anyone interested in understanding and treating traumatic stress and the scope of its impact on society." -Alexander McFarlane, Director of the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies

A pioneering researcher transforms our understanding of trauma and offers a bold new paradigm for healing in this New York Times bestseller

Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der…

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 Lovely War

Allyson Dahlin Author Of Cake Eater

From my list on YA that put a fictional twist on real history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by Marie Antoinette since I watched Sofia Coppola’s film about her as a teenager. Pair that with a Les Miserables musical obsession and a Francophile dad that loved history, and I became fascinated with the French Revolution. My interest was re-ignited years later after I visited Versailles and wandered the foggy gardens where I must have gotten haunted by a French ghost because the idea for Cake Eater struck me after I returned home. I was in a bit of a writing slump at the time, but the idea took hold of me and wouldn’t let go. I drafted Cake Eater for Nanowrimo and it became my debut novel.

Allyson's book list on YA that put a fictional twist on real history

Allyson Dahlin Why did Allyson love this book?

This totally unique retelling blends Greek mythology with World War I and II history in a beautiful way that stuck with me long after I finished the last page.

There are tons of Greek retellings to choose from, but the added element of the World Wars storyline makes this one stick out from the crowd. Aphrodite strikes a deal on trial and must tell the story of two war-torn couples. The story has a big sweeping feel, full of tragedy and romance.

Lovely War brings to mind Greek epics in its scope and feeling, but the setting gives it a fresh feel. I’ve never read anything quite like it.

By Julie Berry,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Lovely War 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?

A New York Times bestseller!

A sweeping, multi-layered romance set in the perilous days of World Wars I and II, where gods hold the fates--and the hearts--of four mortals in their hands.

They are Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. A classical pianist from London, a British would-be architect turned soldier, a Harlem-born ragtime genius in the U.S. Army, and a Belgian orphan with a gorgeous voice and a devastating past. Their story, as told by the goddess Aphrodite, who must spin the tale or face judgment on Mount Olympus, is filled with hope and heartbreak, prejudice and passion, and reveals…

Book cover of Dune

Mark Joyner Author Of Simpleology: The Simple Science of Getting What You Want

From my list on self-help books masquerading as sci-fi.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an author, inventor, military veteran, (mostly) self-taught scholar, and an entrepreneur. Every internet-connected person interacts with things I invented (the tracking pixel, the ebook, etc) every day, but I'm best known for my books about business and personal development. As I write this, I'm serving as the Founder and CEO of a software platform called "Simpleology." It's designed to solve what I think is one of mankind's greatest threats to survival as a species:  "The Complexity Gap." It's the gap between the amount of information in the world and our ability to navigate it. It solves this by guiding you to focus on what we call "HIME" (high impact, minimal effort).

Mark's book list on self-help books masquerading as sci-fi

Mark Joyner Why did Mark love this book?

This book presents perhaps the most prescient and today-relevant sci-fi premise ever: how could technology evolve without thinking machines?

After reading this book, I finally understood that my thinking does not have to be constrained by the "scientific consensus" of the day. The book presents a future so radically different from what most futurists are envisioning that it not only freed my thinking about science and futurism...it freed my mind of all constraints.

Even further, it beckoned me to explore the limits of my own human potential.

By Frank Herbert,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Before The Matrix, before Star Wars, before Ender's Game and Neuromancer, there was Dune: winner of the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, and widely considered one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written.

Melange, or 'spice', is the most valuable - and rarest - element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person's lifespan to making interstellar travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world of Arrakis.

Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.

When the Emperor transfers stewardship of…

Book cover of Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History

Matthew Arnold Stern Author Of The Remainders

From my list on Jewish families in crisis.

Why am I passionate about this?

Reseda, California plays an important part in my novels. I grew up there in a middle-class Jewish family, and we experienced the turmoil of the 1960s and 1970s. My parents got divorced, and my brother and I were raised by our working mom until she became paralyzed by a stroke. I found refuge in writing. I wrote The Remainders in 2016 during a tumultuous time when issues of family conflict, homelessness, and the growing cruelty of society came into focus. Still, I believe decency and compassion will prevail. The books I write and enjoy reading seek to find light in the darkest of circumstances.

Matthew's book list on Jewish families in crisis

Matthew Arnold Stern Why did Matthew love this book?

I read this powerful graphic novel series when the first collections came out in the 1980s.

It shows the horrors of the Holocaust and the impact it has on the families of the survivors. Maus is best known for depicting Jews as mice and Nazis as cats, but Art’s troubled relationship with his father Vladik and the death of his mother Anja by suicide frame the story.

Maus is my favorite graphic novel series and a must-read for understanding the Holocaust and how it shaped Jewish life since.

By Art Spiegelman,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Maus I as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling first installment of the graphic novel acclaimed as “the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust” (Wall Street Journal) and “the first masterpiece in comic book history” (The New Yorker) • PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • One of Variety’s “Banned and Challenged Books Everyone Should Read”

A brutally moving work of art—widely hailed as the greatest graphic novel ever written—Maus recounts the chilling experiences of the author’s father during the Holocaust, with Jews drawn as wide-eyed mice and Nazis as menacing cats.

Maus is a haunting tale within a tale, weaving the author’s account of his…

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