100 books like The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

By John Boyne,

Here are 100 books that The Boy in the Striped Pajamas fans have personally recommended if you like The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. 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 A Boy in Winter

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 beautifully written novel which embraces and honours the Ukrainian spirit. It is 1942 and the Germans have arrived in a small town in Western Ukraine. When the schoolmaster and his wife are rounded up and murdered along with all the other Jews, Yaisa, a local peasant girl, instinctively hides their two young sons away. The massacre is witnessed with horror both by a Ukrainian Auxiliary, now remorseful at having joined the German police, and by a German engineer who is building roads with forced Ukrainian labour. Now the hunt is on for the Jewish boys – and for Yaisa too. An incredibly moving read that both hones in on one small town and pans out across the vast and varied landscape of Ukraine. 

By Rachel Seiffert,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Boy in Winter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Early on a grey November morning in 1941, only weeks after the German invasion, a small Ukrainian town is overrun by the SS. Deft, spare and devastating, Rachel Seiffert's new novel tells of the three days that follow and the lives that are overturned in the process. Penned in with his fellow Jews, under threat of transportation, Ephraim anxiously awaits word of his two sons, missing since daybreak. Come in search of her lover, to fetch him home again, away from the invaders, Yasia must confront new and harsh truths about those closest to her. Here to avoid a war…


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 The Book Thief

Michele DeMarco Author Of Holding Onto Air: The Art and Science of Building a Resilient Spirit

From my list on transforming your mental and spiritual health.

Why am I passionate about this?

Officially, I’m an award-winning author and specialist in the fields of psychology, trauma, and spirituality. I’m also a professionally trained therapist, clinical ethicist, and researcher. Ultimately, I’m an ardent believer that the same life that brings us joy also (sometimes) brings us pain. More importantly, that every aspect of life has a role to play in making us who we are today and who we’ll be tomorrow. We don’t always have control over the events in life, but the script we live by is ours to write—and write it we must, as only we can. I’m also a three-time heart attack survivor.

Michele's book list on transforming your mental and spiritual health

Michele DeMarco Why did Michele love this book?

Markus Zusak’s book is definitely not for the faint of heart or those easily bored: its narrator is Death, and the book is over 500 pages long. Not really the kind of book you’d think of for those aged 12 and up (as it’s listed). But it is one that really ought to be universally read.

The book follows two young children battling for survival in Nazi Germany. Entropy hangs in the air like Death’s shadow. Life’s harsh realities—like evil, heartache, pain, and mortality—are ever-present. In Max's (the young boy) dreams, he is boxing with Hitler and lands a punch, knocking the Fuhrer down, but soon he’s overtaken by the crowd.

This is one of the reasons I appreciate this book: winners sometimes lose; bad things happen to good people. And yet, the response to this existential injustice isn’t to become a mere survivor, victim, or martyr. It’s to…

By Markus Zusak,

Why should I read it?

29 authors picked The Book Thief 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?

'Life affirming, triumphant and tragic . . . masterfully told. . . but also a wonderful page-turner' Guardian
'Brilliant and hugely ambitious' New York Times
'Extraordinary' Telegraph
___

HERE IS A SMALL FACT - YOU ARE GOING TO DIE

1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.
Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.

SOME IMPORTANT…


Book cover of A Night Divided

A.L. Sowards Author Of A Waltz with Traitors

From my list on immersing you in the struggle for freedom.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved history—in both fiction and nonfiction forms. The events from history that tend to stick with me the most are stories of individuals or groups who face enormous odds in their quest to live a life of freedom. History is full of oppression, tyranny, and tragedy, but it’s also full of individuals and groups that have stood against evil, even when it’s dangerous or difficult or unlikely to succeed. Immersing myself in those stories is one of the ways I honor those who have struggled and sacrificed.

A.L.'s book list on immersing you in the struggle for freedom

A.L. Sowards Why did A.L. love this book?

When the Berlin Wall goes up, Gerta’s family is divided.

Her father and one brother are in the west. Gerta, her mother, and her brother Fritz are in the east. Four years later, the Statsi has their eye on Gerta’s family, Fritz is due to be drafted, and then Gerta catches sight of her father on the other side of the wall, signaling something about digging.

If they’re ever going to be free, they must do something daring, and do it soon. Though written for young readers, the excellent pacing, realistic characters, and powerful themes about freedom and family make this book a great read for all ages. 

By Jennifer A. Nielsen,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Night Divided as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

A stunning thriller from NYT bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen about a girl who must escape to freedom after the Berlin Wall divides her family between east and west.

A Night Divided joins the Scholastic Gold line, which features award-winning and beloved novels. Includes exclusive bonus content!With the rise of the Berlin Wall, Gerta finds her family suddenly divided. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall,…


Book cover of The Story That Cannot Be Told

Gigi Griffis Author Of The Wicked Unseen

From my list on history for those who find history intimidating.

Why am I passionate about this?

I came to my passion for history later in life—when I realized I could trade in the endless date memorization I remembered from history class for an exploration of fierce lady pirates like Shek Yeung and unwilling empresses like Sisi of Austria. Historical stories that felt like thrillers, adventures, or mystery novels. Comedies. Tragedies. And most of all: books that didn’t require a history PhD to get swept up in the story. These are the books that made me fall in love with history, and they’re the kind of books I now write. I’m the author of three historical novels, all written first and foremost to sweep you away into a damn good story.

Gigi's book list on history for those who find history intimidating

Gigi Griffis Why did Gigi love this book?

Another way to ease yourself into historical fiction is to start with books for young readers—like this gorgeous, compelling read set during the Communist regime’s fall in Romania in 1989. 

Our heroine is a young girl named Ileana who loves stories, even though stories can be dangerous (like the one that got her uncle arrested for criticizing the government). Afraid for her life, her parents send her to live with grandparents she’s never met—and still she gets caught up in the independence. 

I adored this book as an adult reader and—bonus!—it would be the perfect thing to co-read with a middle schooler or young teen if you’ve got one in your life. 

By J. Kasper Kramer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Story That Cannot Be Told as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

“By turns surprising, poetic, and stark, The Story That Cannot Be Told is one that should most certainly be read.” —Alan Gratz, New York Times bestselling author of Refugee
“A mesmerizing debut.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A powerful middle grade debut with three starred reviews that weaves together folklore and history to tell the story of a girl finding her voice and the strength to use it during the final months of the Communist regime in Romania in 1989.

Ileana has always collected stories. Some are about the past, before the leader of her country tore down her home to…


Book cover of I Must Betray You

Kerry Chaput Author Of Chasing Eleanor

From my list on taking you on an adventure with a found family.

Why am I passionate about this?

Found family changed my life, allowing me to find acceptance for the real, messy, complicated me. I believe everyone should have that experience. I’ve struggled with anxiety and panic disorder for my entire life, something that was never understood by my family growing up. As I worked to understand my own mental health struggles, it was the people who came into my life with love and compassion who helped me accept that I was never broken. I want every reader to feel that when they read one of my books. Chasing Eleanor was inspired by all five of these book recommendations, with adventure and found family at its heart.

Kerry's book list on taking you on an adventure with a found family

Kerry Chaput Why did Kerry love this book?

Sepetys never disappoints, but I Must Betray You grabbed hold of me and didn’t let go. I read this book in twenty-four hours.

Sepetys has a way of character development that never underestimates her readers. This story is raw and haunting, with a hard punch of constant action. I Must Betray You takes us behind the Iron Curtain to 1989 Communist Romania, where high schooler Cristian must become an informer to save his family. What unfolds is a story of bravery, sacrifice, and love.

By Ruta Sepetys,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked I Must Betray You 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 #1 New York Times and National Bestseller!
 
A gut-wrenching, startling historical thriller about communist Romania and the citizen spy network that devastated a nation, from the #1 New York Times bestselling, award-winning author of Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray.

Romania, 1989. Communist regimes are crumbling across Europe. Seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu dreams of becoming a writer, but Romanians aren’t free to dream; they are bound by rules and force.
 
Amidst the tyrannical dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu in a country governed by isolation and fear, Cristian is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer. He’s…


Book cover of The Last Jew of Treblinka

Patrick Hicks Author Of The Commandant of Lubizec: A Novel of the Holocaust and Operation Reinhard

From my list on the concentration camps of the Holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve dedicated most of my writing career to the Holocaust, and in order to create novels that are historically accurate, I’ve interviewed survivors, as well as done research at many of the camps. It is one thing to study Auschwitz, but it’s an entirely different thing to walk its soil. I give lectures on the Holocaust and do readings from my novels all across the country, and I view my work as a way to open discussion about what happened in Europe between 1933-1945. As I often say, just because we live in a post-Holocaust world, does not mean we have come to understand the Holocaust.

Patrick's book list on the concentration camps of the Holocaust

Patrick Hicks Why did Patrick love this book?

When I first read this book, I didn’t know much about Treblinka, and in order to write my book I needed to read as much as I could about the extermination camps. I read Raichman’s memoir in one sitting because his account of surviving Treblinka is so immediate and visual. Whenever I’m asked about books on the Holocaust, I always recommend this one. He describes thousands of innocent people getting off trains, being separated, and then being forced to run naked up the “The Road to Heaven” and into the gas chambers. No other book captures Treblinka as well as this one does. Some 900,000 people died in Treblinka, and nearly all of them were Jewish. Raichman’s account is deeply moving, poignant, and heart-rending.

By Chil Rajchman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Quickly becoming a cornerstone of Holocaust historiography―a devastatingly stark memoir from one of the lone survivors of Treblinka.

Why do some live while so many others perish? Tiny children, old men, beautiful girls. In the gas chambers of Treblinka, all are equal. The Nazis kept the fires of Treblinka burning night and day, a central cog in the wheel of the Final Solution.

In the tradition of Elie Wiesel’s Night and Primo Levi’s Survival at Auschwitz and The Drowned and the Saved, Rajchman provides the only survivors’ record of Treblinka. Originally written in Yiddish in 1945, without hope or agenda…


Book cover of Mischling

Serena Burdick Author Of The Girls with No Names

From my list on powerful female protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I devoured stories of the past. I wanted to live in a different century despite the fact that as a stubborn, loud, girl, I would not have been accepted because I understood these traits were not acceptable anyway. So, I learned to be quiet. It has taken me a long time to see myself as a powerful woman, to stop apologizing, to believe that when I speak up, people will listen. My goal in writing is to create characters worthy of our attention, characters who can empower us. We must imagine what we want before we can create it, and be vulnerable enough to believe in the power of that creation. 

Serena's book list on powerful female protagonists

Serena Burdick Why did Serena love this book?

Mischling is the story of twin sisters, Stasha and Pearl, who were sent to Auschwitz during WWII. The connection between these young girls, their strength and willpower, their ability to know what the other is thinking, to protect and care for one another, is astonishing. In this camp, these girls go through puberty, fall in love, and endure more than it seems possible for any child to survive. That they do so, is impressive, and when Pearl disappears, Stasha refuses to believe her sister is dead. When the war ends, and the camp is liberated, Stasha and a young boy navigate Poland’s war-torn land looking for Pearl. This book is intense, and painful, and yet the prose is so astounding, and done with such skill and care, it makes a topic that would seem impossible to stomach, not only bearable, but full of hope and beauty.

By Affinity Konar,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It's 1944 when the twin sisters arrive at Auschwitz with their mother and grandfather. In their benighted new world, Pearl and Stasha Zagorski take refuge in their identical natures, comforting themselves with the private language and shared games of their childhood. As part of the experimental population of twins known as Mengele's Zoo, the girls experience privileges and horrors unknown to others, and they find themselves changed, stripped of the personalities they once shared, their identities altered by the burdens of guilt and pain.

That winter, at a concert orchestrated by Mengele, Pearl disappears. Stasha grieves for her twin, but…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in concentration camps, the Holocaust, and Poland?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about concentration camps, the Holocaust, and Poland.

Concentration Camps Explore 35 books about concentration camps
The Holocaust Explore 387 books about the Holocaust
Poland Explore 115 books about Poland