Welcome back to my Saturday Book Lists series! Check out my complete list of books lists here.
Today I am focusing my list on one of my favorite books of all time: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
While I really dislike the “what’s your favorite book?” question, this is one that always comes to mind when I think about favorite books. I adore this book. I reviewed it here a few years ago and every time I reread it, I am reminded how incredible it is.
This list is broken into two parts–WWII novels and non-WWII. I tried to break out into a few other time periods but there are definitely several WWII novels that belong on this list. I hope you enjoy these!
Set in WWII:
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry // This novel belongs at the top of this list for several reasons. First, the focus on a children’s perspective during war. This novel set in Denmark, tells the story of Annemarie who helps smuggle her best friend’s family out of the country because they are Jewish. Obvious connections to Leisl and Max.
The War that Saved My Life by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley // This Newbery Honor book chronicles the journey of Ada, a girl born with a club foot who manages to evacuate bombed London with her brother. Her journey to finding joy, confidence, and family in unexpected places is much like Liesl’s in Germany. The sequel (The War I Finally Won) is fantastic too!
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford // I adore this book. It focuses on two children (one Chinese and one Japanese) in Seattle during WWII. When Kieko’s family is forced to move to an internment camp, Henry must decide what is worth fighting for. The most intriguing connection this book has to The Book Thief is the story set up. Like in The Book Thief, this novel starts at the end. We knew what happens to the characters. The question is how they get there.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr // This book blew me away. The writing is gorgeous and the story is compelling. It belongs on this list because of it’s focus on children during WWII–both in France and Germany. Also for the power of books that is weaved throughout the story. This is a powerful read.
The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows // A celebration of books, of words and of friends that become family. I love this book so much and I think fans of the Book Thief will enjoy it too. The characters are endearing and their book club is so much fun. Another unique setting within the WWII genre on the island of Guernsey.
Set outside of WWII:
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare // One of my favorite Newbery winners that I’ve read, this story of Kit and her friendship with the outcast town witch is a powerful account of Puritan life and the importance of relationships. The story also centers on the power of words and the way reading sets people free. Kit teaches a young girl from the village to read and Hannah (the supposed witch) makes a sanctuary in her home much like Liesl feels with Hans. Plus, Kit’s sailor friend, Nat, reminds me of Rudy 🙂
The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg // This may seem like an unlikely recommendation, but hear me out. While this book is more contemporary and follows the rise of a winning quiz team, it has some intriguing similarities to The Book Thief. First, the story is told in pieces, often going back in time then returning to the present. We piece together personalities, experiences and relationships as the story goes along much like Death’s narrations do. Second, words are powerful and central to this story. I rather like the way each member of the team has connections to certain words or subjects. I think these kids and Liesl would have been friends.
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander // If that last one was a stretch, then this is definitely a surprise inclusion 😉 I include it for the incredible way the Alexander uses words to tell his story and the power they have for his characters. I have never read anything quite like this and it is a celebration of words. Additionally, Josh and his family must face difficult experiences much like Liesl did. Yes, the genres are fairly different. But the heart and grit of these main characters will feel similar.
Have you read any of these novels?
What others do you recommend for fans of The Book Thief?