100 books like The Unmade World

By Steve Yarbrough,

Here are 100 books that The Unmade World fans have personally recommended if you like The Unmade World. 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 Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague

Ana Veciana-Suarez Author Of Dulcinea

From my list on bringing to life the forgotten Baroque Age.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became fascinated with 16th-century and 17th-century Europe after reading Don Quixote many years ago. Since then, every novel or nonfiction book about that era has felt both ancient and contemporary. I’m always struck by how much our environment has changed—transportation, communication, housing, government—but also how little we as people have changed when it comes to ambition, love, grief, and greed. I doubled down my reading on that time period when I researched my novel, Dulcinea. Many people read in the eras of the Renaissance, World War II, or ancient Greece, so I’m hoping to introduce them to the Baroque Age. 

Ana's book list on bringing to life the forgotten Baroque Age

Ana Veciana-Suarez Why did Ana love this book?

I was introduced to Brooks’ writing by a fellow journalist because I very much wanted to read a novel by a reporter turned fiction writer.

The writing and the plot of the 1666 plague in this book didn’t disappoint. It was like sinking into a time and place so different from my own, but at the same time so familiar because Brooks is what I call a surround-sound writer. She is able to totally immerse you in a foreign world.

By Geraldine Brooks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 'March' and 'People of the Book'.

A young woman's struggle to save her family and her soul during the extraordinary year of 1666, when plague suddenly struck a small Derbyshire village.

In 1666, plague swept through London, driving the King and his court to Oxford, and Samuel Pepys to Greenwich, in an attempt to escape contagion. The north of England remained untouched until, in a small community of leadminers and hill farmers, a bolt of cloth arrived from the capital. The tailor who cut the cloth had no way of knowing that the damp…

Book cover of Extinctions

Julia Glass Author Of Three Junes

From my list on surviving inconsolable heartbreak.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a woodsy Massachusetts town, then spent the first decade of my adult life striving to succeed as a painter in New York--while reading fiction as if inhaling another form of oxygen. In my thirties I traded paintbrush for pencil, persevering until I published my first novel at 46. I've now written six novels and a story collection about the volatile bonds of modern families, through marriages, births, betrayals, illnesses, deaths, and shifting loyalties. I love to tell a single story from multiple perspectives, ages, and genders; to inhabit a different vocation in each new character: bookseller, biologist, pastry chef, teacher. Like actors, fiction writers love slipping into countless other lives.

Julia's book list on surviving inconsolable heartbreak

Julia Glass Why did Julia love this book?

Confession: I bought this novel partly for its gorgeous floral jacket...a bait-and-switch for the emotional claustrophobia in which it begins. I fell in love with it because of how deep I was drawn into lives I didn't think I could care about. Fred, a retired engineering professor--wife deceased, son severely disabled, adoptive daughter estranged--has banished himself to wither self-righteously away in a retirement village. But circumstances force him to let someone in: his neighbor, Jan, who's suffered her own misfortunes yet leads the most engaged life she can.

Set in Australia, this increasingly exhilarating and witty novel shows how it's never too late to face down eviscerating truths, make amends, and flout conventions; also, how friendships can save us (as I learned during my year of heartbreak). As a writer, I was stunned by an extended real-time scene in which an automotive mishap lands Jan and Fred in a glamorous…

By Josephine Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the prestigious Miles Franklin Award

Professor Frederick Lothian, retired engineer, world expert on concrete and connoisseur of modernist design, has quarantined himself from life by moving to a retirement village. Surrounded and obstructed by the debris of his life, he is determined to be miserable, but is tired of his existence and of the life he has chosen.

When a series of unfortunate incidents forces him and his neighbour, Jan, together, he begins to realise the damage done by the accumulation of a lifetime's secrets and lies, and to comprehend his own shortcomings. Finally, Frederick Lothian has the…

Book cover of Grief

Jeffrey Richards Author Of We Are Only Ghosts

From my list on LGBT+ novels that haunt me (in a good way).

Why am I passionate about this?

I came of age in Oklahoma as a gay youth in the late 1970s and early 1980s, keeping myself hidden out of safety and shame. Once I was old enough to leave my small-minded town and be myself, I crashed headlong into the oncoming AIDS epidemic. It set me on a path to understanding the world and my place in it as a homosexual. I turned to reading about the lives and histories of those who came before me, to learn about their deaths and survivals in what could be an ugly, brutal world. These works continue to draw me, haunt me, and inspire me to share my story through my writing. 

Jeffrey's book list on LGBT+ novels that haunt me (in a good way)

Jeffrey Richards Why did Jeffrey love this book?

The quiet endurance of grief. I love this small, meditative novella that captures the essence of grief as it continues to linger in the body, the mind, and the heart long past the comfortability of those around you.

While the story focuses on the main character, an aging, gay professor who has come to Washington, DC, for a visiting professorship after losing his mother to a long illness, each person encountered is grieving something in their own way (I truly love that Holleran mirrors the main character’s grief with that of Mary Todd Lincoln’s after losing her husband to an assassin but also still grieving the death of her son via a biography he’s reading).

What I find so beautiful about this book is that Holleran doesn’t go for the theatrics of grief. He keeps the story and the emotions calm, methodic, and persistent with such great care to craft…

By Andrew Holleran,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the tradition of Michael Cunningham's The Hours, a beautiful novel destined to become a classic

Reeling from the recent death of his invalid mother, a worn, jaded professor comes to our nation's capital to recuperate from his loss. What he finds there--in his repressed, lonely landlord, in the city's mood and architecture, and in the letters and journals of Mary Todd Lincoln--shows him new, poignant truths about America, yearning, loneliness, and mourning itself.

Since Andrew Holleran first burst onto the scene with 1978's groundbreaking Dancer from the Dance, which has been continuously in print, he has been dazzling readers…

Book cover of Dear Edward

Judy Lipson Author Of Celebration of Sisters: It Is Never Too Late To Grieve

From my list on sibling loss, love, and hope.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been asked for decades to share my story. Who would want to hear my story? When we established the fund in memory of beloved sisters Margie and Jane, the doctor connected to the fund told me to write about my sisters so others would know them. After thirty years of suppressing my grief, writing became a venue to let the walls down and let my feelings out and be compassionate to myself and others in their grief no matter the time. Grief is a difficult subject and I hope in telling my story another individual will not be alone in their grief.

Judy's book list on sibling loss, love, and hope

Judy Lipson Why did Judy love this book?

I am recommending this work of fiction selected by The Compassionate Friends Sibling Grief Book Club. Ann, with grace, handles not only the sibling loss of a brother, a boy the sole survivor of a plane crash, but the depth and breadth of grief from the aunt and uncle Edward lives with. Edward’s aunt grieving the loss of an unborn child and her sister, says to Edward, “You’re not okay. We are not okay. This is not okay.” I’m certain other bereaved siblings can relate, “he mourns what his brother has lost.” I related to how in a family we handle grief differently and often are unable to communicate how we are feeling. 

By Ann Napolitano,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Dear Edward as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


A transcendent coming-of-age story about the ways a broken heart learns to love again.

One summer morning, a flight takes off from New York to Los Angeles: there are 192 people aboard. When the plane suddenly crashes, twelve-year-old Edward Adler is the sole survivor.

In the aftermath, Edward struggles to make sense of his grief, sudden fame and find his place in a world without his family. But then Edward and his neighbour Shay make a startling discovery; hidden in his uncle's garage are letters from the relatives of other passengers - all addressed him.…

Book cover of The Kommandant's Girl

Amy Carney Author Of Marriage and Fatherhood in the Nazi SS

From my list on the Third Reich (fiction).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m someone who has one of the best jobs in the world – I’m an associate professor of history. I get paid to learn and to share what I learn with my students. I am super passionate about my work, both teaching and research. As for my research, I’m a historian of Nazi Germany.

Amy's book list on the Third Reich (fiction)

Amy Carney Why did Amy love this book?

This historical romance is set in German-occupied Krakow. Emma, a young Jewish woman, is separated from her husband just weeks after their marriage because of his involvement in the resistance. Sent to live with Krysia, her husband’s gentile aunt, the women quickly bond with each other as well as with a toddler, the son of a Jewish rabbi, who is placed in their care. The plot thickens when Emma comes to the attention of Georg Richwalder, a high-ranking Nazi official in Krakow who, unaware that Emma is Jewish, wants her to work for him. She does, knowing the information she has access to will help the resistance, including the clandestine work of her husband. Richwalder’s feelings for her, along with her conflicted feelings for him, drive the plot to its intense conclusion.

By Pam Jenoff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


Based in part on actual events, Kommandant's Girl is a compelling tale of love and courage in a dangerous and desperate times.

Unique in voice and evocative in historical detail, this stunning debut faithfully explores the gray area between right and wrong and the timeless themes of home, stuggle and defiance in the face of overwhelming odds.

Nineteen-year-old Emma Bau has been married only three weeks when Nazi tanks thunder into her native Poland. Within days Emma's husband, Jacob, is forced to disappear underground, leaving her imprisoned within the city's…

Book cover of Schindler's Ark

Jenny Harrison Author Of Dead Before Curfew

From my list on the human cost of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is Jenny Harrison and my writing career started in 1997 in South Africa with Debbie's Story, which to my astonishment, became a bestseller. Thinking this was going to be an easy route to fame and fortune, I continued writing after migrating to New Zealand. Alas, the road to a bestseller is rife with disappointment but that didn't stop me from writing a bunch of paranormal and humorous novels. Circumstances led me to writing about families caught up in World War II. I don’t write about battles or generals, I write about ordinary people who face the unimagined cost of war and survive.

Jenny's book list on the human cost of war

Jenny Harrison Why did Jenny love this book?

My first book pick: Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally is an account of the saving of Jews by a flamboyant, scheming, wily businessman, Oskar Schindler. Not a likable man, Schindler did whatever it took to protect “his” Jews from extermination. For a writer, this book is a master class on how to take historical events and turn them into a riveting story. For a reader, the book races from one fraught event to another, all the while the unheroic hero, Schindler, is only one step ahead of the Germans. 

By Thomas Keneally,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Booker Prize and international bestseller, made into the award-winning film Schindler's List. Chosen as a Big Jubilee Read, celebrating the Queen's Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

In the shadow of Auschwitz, a flamboyant German industrialist grew into a living legend to the Jews of Cracow. He was a womaniser, a heavy drinker and a bon viveur, but to them he became a saviour. This is the extraordinary story of Oskar Schindler, who risked his life to protect Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland and who was transformed by the war into a man with a mission, a compassionate angel of…

Book cover of The Dollmaker of Krakow

Hayley Chewins Author Of The Sisters of Straygarden Place

From my list on using magic to explore trauma.

Why am I passionate about this?

It took me a long time to realize that the books I write have always (always) been about trauma. (I write fantasy, so the link wasn’t immediately apparent to me.) But now that I’ve seen it, I can’t unsee it. Likewise, it took me a long time to notice that all my favorite magical books were the ones that seemed to be trying to find a new language for the terrible things that can happen to and around us. Magic provides a powerful language for psychological pain. It can make it more real. It can make it more digestible. It can help us to see it more clearly. Fiction tells lies that make reality bearable and understandable—and magical fiction is no different. Which is why it will probably always be my favorite kind.

Hayley's book list on using magic to explore trauma

Hayley Chewins Why did Hayley love this book?

The Dollmaker of Kraków is about a doll named Karolina who finds herself in the human world after her homeland—the Land of the Dolls—is ravaged by an army of rats. To be more specific, she finds herself in a dollmaker’s shop. In Kraków. In 1939. World War II has just begun, and Karolina watches as the horrors of the Holocaust unfold before her eyes. Glistening with folklore and fairy tales, this historical fantasy shines with hope and beauty. It never fails to remind me how art can save us, over and over, even—or especially—in the darkest of times. 

By R.M. Romero,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dollmaker of Krakow 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 timeless fantasy set in the Second World War that weaves together magic, folklore and history, perfect for fans of The Book Thief, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Goodnight Mister Tom.

One night a little doll named Karolina comes to life in a toyshop in Krakow, Poland, in 1939 and changes the life of the gruff, broken-hearted Dollmaker. And when the darkness of the Nazi occupation sweeps over the city, Karolina and the Dollmaker must bravely use their magic to save their Jewish friends from a terrible danger, no matter what the risks. This powerful story is about…

Book cover of Schindler's List

Robert Tucker Author Of The Revolutionist

From my list on grand literary historical fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

As the grandson of immigrants who fled persecution in Germany and Austria-Hungary and came to America during the early 1900s, the early history of our country and the rise of the middle-class have always held a fascination for me. The dramatic depiction of fictional characters placed in actual events brings alive the harsh times and adversity of the people who sought freedom and a better way of life and demonstrates that only a little over one hundred years have passed to bring us to where we are today. Researching and writing historical fiction is a way to learn more about myself and my origins and the social, political, and economic influences related to my generation.

Robert's book list on grand literary historical fiction

Robert Tucker Why did Robert love this book?

One of the most powerful novels I’ve ever read, Schindler’s List depicts how a courageous man saved Jews from extermination during World War II. The novel is a moving and masterful work that captures one man’s heroic resistance to the horrors and human degradation imposed by the Nazis. 

By Thomas Keneally,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The basis for the Oscar-winning Spielberg movie, this novel recreates the story of Oskar Schindler, an Aryan who risked his life to protect Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Book cover of No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War

Lois Lowry Author Of On the Horizon

From my list on war through the eyes of children.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’d like to say I have no expertise in this topic. And yet…don’t we all?  We’ve all lived through it. I was born in 1937—in Honolulu, the daughter of a US Army officer. WW II was a pervasive part of my childhood, as my father spent time in the Pacific and then after the war ended, we lived in Occupied Japan for some years.  But war had always been a part of my family’s history, as is true for so many people. My great grandfather left a written account of his capture and imprisonment during the Civil War.  And much more recently, my own son, an Air Force pilot, died in the cockpit of a F-15.  Ironically, he had married a German wife, and he is buried in her village cemetery near her grandfather, who served on the Russian front years earlier.  His child, my granddaughter, puts flowers on both of those graves. All of these pieces of my own history combine, I think, to create this passion I have for the telling and retelling of stories that can make us more aware of the futility of war.

Lois' book list on war through the eyes of children

Lois Lowry Why did Lois love this book?

Five years old when the Nazis invaded her homeland of Poland, Anita Lobel spent the war years in hiding. Her memoir is intimate and suspenseful and even occasionally funny.  Here’s a glimpse… through the eyes of a real child…of what survival means, and of those who helped her achieve it.

By Anita Lobel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Pretty Pictures as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Anita Lobel was barely five years old when World War II began and the Nazis burst into her home in Kraków, Poland. Her life changed forever. She spent her childhood in hiding with her brother and their nanny, moving from countryside to ghetto to convent—where the Nazis finally caught up with them.

Since coming to the United States as a teenager, Anita has spent her life makingpictures. She has never gone back. She has never looked back. Until now.

Book cover of The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible....on Schindler's List

Elaine Orr Author Of Falling Into Place

From my list on World War II for teens who love a good story.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the U.S. author of more than thirty books, many of them traditional or cozy mysteries. As the daughter and niece of several World War II veterans, I grew up hearing some of their experiences – they left out the horror. But I did see the impact those travesties had on gentle people. I often marveled at the courage of those who fought without weapons to survive the deprivation and loss of many loved ones. And I’m glad I had opportunities to visit Germany and Japan as an adult, to see the friendships our nations foster today.

Elaine's book list on World War II for teens who love a good story

Elaine Orr Why did Elaine love this book?

As a child, Leon Leyson (originally Lieb Lejzon) and his family of observant Jews moved from rural Poland to Krakow, where they became part of the Jewish ghetto and were eventually sent to Nazi concentration camps. Cruelty and near starvation would have led to death had not Oskar Schindler added them to his employees, first at an enamelware plant and later at an armaments factory.

Lieb had to stand on a box because he was so small. As Leon Leyson, he wrote the book as an older man, long a U.S. citizen, and educator. Through a child’s eyes, the horrors of the camps seem even more surreal. Lieb lost family members, but Schindler’s pragmatism and timely bribery of Nazi officials saved Lieb and many more from the Final Solution. 

By Leon Leyson, Marilyn J. Harran, Elisabeth B. Leyson

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Boy on the Wooden Box as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Leon Leyson (born Leib Lezjon) was only ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and his family was forced to relocate to the Krakow ghetto. With incredible luck, perseverance and grit, Leyson was able to survive the sadism of the Nazis, including that of the demonic Amon Goeth, commandant of Plaszow, the concentration camp outside Krakow. Ultimately, it was the generosity and cunning of one man, a man named Oskar Schindler, who saved Leon Leyson's life, and the lives of his mother, his father, and two of his four siblings, by adding their names to his list of workers…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in guilt, mourning, and Poland?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about guilt, mourning, and Poland.

Guilt Explore 21 books about guilt
Mourning Explore 143 books about mourning
Poland Explore 118 books about Poland