100 books like We Were the Lucky Ones

By Georgia Hunter,

Here are 100 books that We Were the Lucky Ones fans have personally recommended if you like We Were the Lucky Ones. 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 Suite Française

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?

An abiding theme within my own book is that love and friendship can supplant racial and cultural differences, and this book, set in a village in France during the 2nd World War, highlights a growing and reluctant friendship between an occupier and the occupied.

The hatred that invasion induces causes any fraternisation to be labelled ‘collaboration.’ Sometimes it is. Sometimes, it is just people caught out of context seeking comfort and normality.

It is easy for those whose countries have never been occupied to scoff at the behaviour of those who had to live in the atmosphere and the reality of a hostile invasion. Let’s hope we never have to find out firsthand.

By Irene Nemirovsky,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Suite Française as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1941, Irene Nemirovsky sat down to write a book that would convey the magnitude of what she was living through, not in terms of battles and politicians, but by evoking the domestic lives and personal trials of the ordinary citizens of France. She did not live to see her ambition fulfilled, or to know that sixty-five years later, "Suite Francaise" would be published for the first time, and hailed as a masterpiece. Set during a year that begins with France's fall to the Nazis in June 1940 and ends with Germany turning its attention to Russia, "Suite Francaise" falls…

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?


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 The Glass Room

Lucy Hughes-Hallett Author Of Peculiar Ground

From my list on houses.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by houses and the memories that haunt them. I grew up on a private estate in rural England where my father worked. When I was little I knew a witch. She rode a bicycle, not a broomstick: she cured my warts. The trees I played under were planted when the big house belonged to the 17th-century statesman and historian, Lord Clarendon. I knew storytellers who performed in the local pubs – part of an oral tradition that goes back millennia. I moved to London, but I kept thinking about those rural enclaves where memories are very long. I set my novel in that beautiful, ghost-ridden, peculiar world. 

Lucy's book list on houses

Lucy Hughes-Hallett Why did Lucy love this book?

Set in Czechoslovakia in the 1930s, this story of a newly-married couple overseeing the construction of their dream home is as clean-cut, luminous and full of hints of fragility as the building itself – a modernist cube of glass. The husband is rich, the wife excited by her new role as patron.  Their architect -  a sharply observed portrayal of a tetchy artist who will insist on sticking to his vision regardless of his clients’ doubts – wants to make them a masterpiece, and he does.  But the husband is Jewish.  We are in the 1930s.  Glass walls are not going to keep them safe. 

In lucid, elegant prose Mawer conjures up central European culture in those edgy, febrile years when artistic and intellectual energy were so vital, and politics were so deadly.

By Simon Mawer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


The inspiration for the major motion picture The Affair, now available on demand.

Cool. Balanced. Modern. The precisions of science, the wild variance of lust, the catharsis of confession and the fear of failure - these are things that happen in the Glass Room.

High on a Czechoslovak hill, the Landauer House shines as a wonder of steel and glass and onyx built specially for newlyweds Viktor and Liesel Landauer, a Jew married to a gentile. But the radiant honesty of 1930 that the house, with its unique Glass Room, seems to engender quickly tarnishes…

Book cover of City of Thieves

Christie Nelson Author Of Beautiful Illusion

From my list on life and love in San Francisco as the world quakes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I tend to see the events that affect people and countries in the shape of a narrative. Is it any wonder then that I would try my hand at literary fiction, which confers wholeness to stories of turmoil and division? I think not. Finally settling into historical fiction as if I’d found my true home came as a welcome surprise. Without sounding grandiose, it didn’t hurt to be born and raised in a magnificent American city built on seven hills on the edge of the Pacific with deep traditions in literature, music, the arts, and damn good drinking establishments. I wish you happy reading and the thrill of discovery.

Christie's book list on life and love in San Francisco as the world quakes

Christie Nelson Why did Christie love this book?

City of Thieves occupies the top shelf in my library. Why? Is it because now I’m watching the people of Ukraine battle a merciless enemy or because David Benioff has packed a tale that swings between unlikely comrades, a tender courtship, and the Nazis’ siege of Leningrad in WWII? Maybe both answers. But I read this book years ago. The deep humanity of the story is also a thriller that made me laugh and shudder through its short length of 258 pages. It doesn’t hurt that Benioff is a gifted screenwriter, too.

By David Benioff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the critically acclaimed author of The 25th Hour and When the Nines Roll Over and co-creator of the HBO series Game of Thrones, a captivating novel about war, courage, survival - and a remarkable friendship that ripples across a lifetime.

During the Nazis' brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as a handsome deserter named Kolya. Instead of being executed, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel to use in…

Book cover of The Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale

Donald L. Willerton Author Of Teddy's War

From my list on what our fathers never told us about WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father never talked about his experiences during the war. After he died at 67, we found his handwritten itinerary of three years and ten days in the Army Signal Corps. Plotting it on a map sparked a passion that continued for years, taking me twice to sites in Europe and through hundreds of records and books. I am amazed at all he never told us—the Queen Mary troopship, his radar unit’s landing on Omaha Beach (D+26), the Normandy Breakout, Paris after liberation, fleeing Bastogne, and so on. I grew up on WWII films but never grasped till now what my dad may have seen. 

Donald's book list on what our fathers never told us about WWII

Donald L. Willerton Why did Donald love this book?

To learn about the Holocaust, I read personal remembrances, eyewitness accounts, and detailed descriptions of ghettos, camps, and transports, but this graphic novel based on Spiegelman’s father captured me like none of the others. Its words tell its terrible story masterfully and its drawings fill in what words can’t say, both as his father lived it and as his son learns about it. Banning it from U.S. schools would be completely wrongheaded. It should be required reading.

By Art Spiegelman,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Complete Maus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first and only graphic novel to win the Pulitzer Prize, MAUS is a brutally moving work of art about a Holocaust survivor -- and the son who survives him

'The first masterpiece in comic book history' The New Yorker

Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father's story. Approaching the unspeakable through the diminutive (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), Vladek's harrowing story of survival is woven into the author's account of his tortured relationship with his aging father.

Against the backdrop…

Book cover of Jewels and Ashes

Georgina Banks Author Of Back to Bangka: Searching For The Truth About A Wartime Massacre

From my list on truth-seeking post WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been interested in what makes people tick – in their unseen inner world. In my twenties, I literally embodied others in my work as an actor. In my thirties, I studied applied psychology and sat alongside others and talked. In my forties, I started my consulting business Changeable, working with group and organizational dynamics. Now in my fifties, I am accessing inner worlds through writing, placing myself imaginatively into other people and places. I have merely scratched the surface. These post-WWII books give a gripping, personal, and scorching window into truth-seeking. 

Georgina's book list on truth-seeking post WWII

Georgina Banks Why did Georgina love this book?

Zable writes of the haunted consciousness of post-conflict generations, in his case, the holocaust.

He argues that great stories must have both terror and beauty, or they merely add to the darkness. It is easy to see the terror, but what of the jewels? I grappled with this question too - how do we rightly remember victims of extreme violence? When I looked to Zable, I found a work imbued with poetry and lyricism.

Jewels and Ashes is a transcendent retracing of the terrain of his parents and grandparents.

By Arnold Zable,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a memoir of a Jewish man's search for his roots, the son of Holocaust survivors returns to his parents' homeland in Poland to rediscover the former glory of East European Jewry.

Book cover of All But My Life: A Memoir

Katrina Shawver Author Of Henry: A Polish Swimmer's True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America

From my list on Poland and it's people during World War 2.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author, lifelong history geek, and relentlessly curious about finding unknown stories. In 2002 I met Henry Zguda, an eighty-five-year-old Polish Catholic who survived three years in Auschwitz and Buchenwald during World War II. He lived a mile from my house. Intrigued, I soon offered to write his incredible story. I am not Polish and knew little of Poland or Polish history when I began. This led to over ten years of research on Poland, World War II, and the Holocaust. My friendship with Henry changed the direction of my life and gave me keen insight into the plight of Poles, both Jewish and Christian, during World War II. Thousands of memoirs and books exist on the Holocaust. I believe the inspiring stories of Poles and other victims of Hitler and Stalin deserve equally widespread recognition.

Katrina's book list on Poland and it's people during World War 2

Katrina Shawver Why did Katrina love this book?

Gerda Weissmann was only age fifteen when the Germans invaded Poland in 1939. Born in Bielsko Poland to a middle-class Jewish family, the book follows her family’s loss and tragedy through the Holocaust. The author survived multiple concentration camps and a death march against impossible odds. Liberated on her twenty-first birthday, she weighed only sixty-eight pounds. This inspiring book includes moments of human decency and normalcy.

Of the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust, three million were from Poland. Klein captures the essence of what it meant to survive a genocide with only her life. Klein is a highly recognized voice for human rights and Holocaust remembrance, and the beneficiary of many awards and honorary degrees. Gerda Weissmann Klein is a name to be remembered.

By Gerda Weissmann Klein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All But My Life 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?

All But My Life is the unforgettable story of Gerda Weissmann Klein's six-year ordeal as a victim of Nazi cruelty.

From her comfortable home in Bielitz (present-day Bielsko) in Poland to her miraculous survival and her liberation by American troops--including the man who was to become her husband--in Volary, Czechoslovakia, in 1945, Gerda takes the reader on a terrifying journey.

Gerda's serene and idyllic childhood is shattered when Nazis march into Poland on September 3, 1939. Although the Weissmanns were permitted to live for a while in the basement of their home, they were eventually separated and sent to German…

Book cover of After Long Silence

Sylvia Maultash Warsh Author Of Find Me Again: A Rebecca Temple Mystery

From my list on Holocaust memoirs to understand what real people experienced.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a child of Holocaust survivors who spent three years in slave labour camps. My mother told me stories of her experiences a child should probably not hear. The result is that my philosophy of life, and sometimes my writing, can be dark. It’s no surprise that this period of history imbues my novels. I chose to write mysteries to reach a wider audience, the Holocaust connections integral to the stories. During my research, I discovered a wealth of information on the Holocaust but learned that memoirs revealed best what happened to people on the ground. Memoirs draw you into the microcosm of a person’s life with its nostalgia, yearning, and inevitable heartbreak.

Sylvia's book list on Holocaust memoirs to understand what real people experienced

Sylvia Maultash Warsh Why did Sylvia love this book?

Helen Fremont has managed to write a memoir that reads like detective fiction. All she and her sister Lara knew of their Polish parents’ past was that they had survived Siberia and a concentration camp. The sisters were raised Catholic and it’s not until Fremont is an adult in Boston that she discovers the family is Jewish. Slowly piecing the past together, the sisters find out that after great trauma, their parents constructed post-war identities hiding their Jewishness. This story interested me because I had a Hungarian friend in university who was brought up in a convent but who learned as an adult that she was Jewish. In my youth I struggled to understand; this book gave me insight.

By Helen Fremont,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Fascinating . . . A tragic saga, but at the same time it often reads like a thriller filled with acts of extraordinary courage, descriptions of dangerous journeys and a series of secret identities.”—Chicago Tribune

“To this day, I don't even know what my mother's real name is.”

Helen Fremont was raised as a Roman Catholic. It wasn't until she was an adult, practicing law in Boston, that she discovered her parents were Jewish—Holocaust survivors living invented lives. Not even their names were their own. In this powerful memoir, Helen Fremont delves into the secrets that held her family in…

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…

Book cover of The Holocaust: A New History

Boaz Dvir Author Of Saving Israel: The Unknown Story of Smuggling Weapons and Winning a Nation’s Independence

From my list on 21st century nonfiction about the Holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started conducting primary research about the Holocaust in the 1990s, when I spent a week interviewing my grandfather, a Holocaust survivor and a pious Hasid, about his life. Fascinated with the survival of his faith, I applied for and received a grant from the Religion News Service to explore spiritual aspects of the Holocaust. I also sought to answer my saba’s question: How did Israelis end up fighting their 1948 War of Independence with Nazi weapons such as the Mauser he had received? I answered it in the 2015 PBS documentary I directed and produced, A Wing and a Prayer, and the 2020 nonfiction book I wrote, Saving Israel.

Boaz's book list on 21st century nonfiction about the Holocaust

Boaz Dvir Why did Boaz love this book?

As a nonfiction storyteller who often explores the Holocaust and as the director of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Education Initiative at Penn State, I’m sometimes asked to recommend books about the Third Reich’s murder of 6 million Jews and millions of Romany, homosexuals, people with disabilities, and others. A New History is the tome I often suggest. In a deceivingly simple linear approach, Laurence Rees, who conducted 25 years of primary research to construct this historical account, methodically walks us through the Holocaust’s origins and unfolding, from Hitler’s novice-Nazi days to the Allies’ death-camp liberations. But Rees avoids neat narratives, peeling away complex layers of madness. For instance, he demonstrates that boiled-over antisemitism extended far beyond Germany’s borders in the 1930s and that the Final Solution to the Jewish Question was messier than we may imagine. Only a lucid voice like Rees’ can clue us into and…

By Laurence Rees,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


'By far the clearest book ever written about the Holocaust, and also the best at explaining its origins and grotesque mentality, as well as its chaotic development' Antony Beevor

'Groundbreaking. You might have thought that we know everything there is to know about the Holocaust but this book proves there is much more' Andrew Roberts, Mail on Sunday

Two fundamental questions about the Holocaust must be asked:

How did it happen? And why?

More completely than any other single work of history yet published, Laurence Rees's…

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