War (HUH) What Is It Good For? (Literature, Actually… In a Roundabout Way)

August 13, 2013 Historical Fiction, Mythology, Top Ten Tuesday, World War II 51

Holla At Ya Bookworms!

It’s Tuesday and you know what that means… It’s list time! The ladies at The Broke and The Bookish have a super fun topic for us today. They’ve asked us to list out our top ten books in a particular setting. I’m choosing books set during wars. No, I’m not talking bloody gory combat tomes. I’m talking about the tales of what happens on the homestead during the wars. And there are a bunch of AMAZING titles with this setting. Are you ready?!?!

toptentuesday1. Stones From the River by Ursula Hegi. This book is so, so good. Trudi Montag is a dwarf living in Germany during World War II. She runs a library with her father. It’s a haunting look at what happened to the German people during the war who weren’t necessarily thrilled about the Nazi regime, but couldn’t do a whole heck of a lot about it.

2. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Ah, the American Civil War this time. Who can forget Scarlett’s finest moments while rebuilding Tara with nothing but a ragtag band of survivors and pure gumption? She’d be more likable if she were permanently under such extreme duress… Not that I want her to go hungry again, it’s just she’s a pretty horrible human being in polite society.

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak– We’re back to WWII and this book’s themes were very similar to Stones from the River. However, since it focused more on the lives of children, it was poignant in an entirely different way. It’s a whole lot of awesome story that’s served best with a box of tissues.


4. The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes– This time we spend half the book during WWI in German occupied France. In case you were wondering, living in an occupied town sucks pretty hard. It makes for good heart-wrenching fiction, though.

5. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo- This was absolutely NOT set during the French Revolution. The warring in question was more of a thwarted uprising than anything. However, where there are muskets, there is war.. At least in my opinion. And this book? Oh this book. So much good. And so many tragic musket wielding fellows…

6. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein– More WWII? Well, yes. It was such a huge and horrible war it affected EVERYTHING, okay? We shouldn’t be surprised to read so much about it, now should we? This was a different take on the war than what I’ve read. Spies and airplanes, you guys! SPIES AND AIRPLANES! LADY SPIES! AND LADY PILOTS! Badass.


7. Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller– This one was set during the Trojan War. How’s that for a change of pace? Jump back in time a few thousand years and visit Achilles and Patroclus and their epic love story. Just… Sigh. Love love love. Plus, you know. Centaurs and Sea Nymphs run amok.

8. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah– Yep. You guessed it. WWII again. Only this time we’re in Russia. That whole laying siege to a city and preventing supplies from going in? Yeah, that’s an effective tactic because you STARVE people. That’s not cool. Having to peel the wallpaper to boil and eat for dinner? SERIOUSLY not cool. However, this book was really good.

9. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon- We could talk about the whole series really, because there are wars all over the place. Claire served as a nurse during WWII, but when she goes back in time (totally by accident, of course) she ends up in the midst of some serious Scottish-English skirmishes. Plus, when we last left our crew? They were on the cusp of the American Revolution. Seriously, these guys cannot catch a break. Oh yeah, there are totally muskets again. (On an unrelated note, the word “musket” reminds me of “muskrat” and thus does not strike fear in my heart. “Fire Breathing Projectile Shooter of Death” would have been a better marketing strategy, Musket Company. I’m just saying.)

10. World War Z by Max Brooks- Yes, the friggin Zombie Apocalypse counts as a war! It totally was a war, you guys. A war for the survival of humanity! The rules have changed- zombies fear nothing. Zombies eat nothing… But YOU. You can’t lay siege to a zombie city and starve them out. You can’t use psychological warfare. You can’t even use standard shooting techniques! I’m really glad it’s fictional because zombies are scary as all get out.

So there you have it! Top Ten Books set during Wars! Do you have a favorite, Bookworms?

PS- Did you enter my contest of pure awesomeness yet?! Check it out!!!

51 Responses to “War (HUH) What Is It Good For? (Literature, Actually… In a Roundabout Way)”

  1. Amanda

    The title of your post was sung in my head, and it also reminded me of Jackie Chan in Rush Hour. Great list! 🙂

  2. Akilah

    Great topic! I would also add SUMMER OF MY GERMAN SOLDIER to the list. Another WWII novel, set in the US. Oh! And HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, also WWII, also set in the US. The former is about a girl who befriends a POW; the latter is about a boy who is friends with a girl sent to a Japanese internment camp.

    • Words for Worms

      I read Summer of My German Soldier in grade school at some point and remember really liking it. It had a sequel too, but I don’t remember much of it. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is another great one. Sheesh I could have done an entire list of WWII books, couldn’t I?

  3. Nish

    I guess I am not very fond of wartime books because I’ve only read one book from this list – Gone with the Wind.

    Some wartime books that I did like were Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, For whom the bells tolled by Hemingway, and An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer (an account of the battle of Waterloo)…but overall, war and books don’t really gel much with me

    My top ten today is books set in London and my list could go on and on and on 🙂

    • Words for Worms

      Oh you most DEFINITELY need to read The Book Thief! Especially since YA is your jam, AND you like a dash of fantasy. I mean, DEATH is the narrator. The awesome cannot be contained!

  4. Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader

    Freaking awesome post woman! I don’t know what it is but man I love a good war book. I think it’s because it’s so DRAMATIC.

    • Words for Worms

      The DRAMA is definitely the draw, I think. Nothing sucks you in like the battle of good and evil, life and death, people caught in impossible situations…

  5. Jayne

    This is a fantastic topic! I keep coming up with tons of ideas.

    Does Harry Potter count? The war for control of the Wizarding World? The war of good vs evil?

    Oh and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. Excellent book!!

    They don’t actually fit with your “on the homefront” criteria, but a couple others I would pick about war…
    Killer Angels by Michael Shaara – I had to read it in high school and that was actually set on the gruesome fields of battle, but I thought it was fantastic!

    Also, there’s a mystery series I love set in WWII, the Billy Boyle series by James R. Benn. Billy is a soldier, but he’s often on the outskirts of the actual fighting (even though he does get caught in the battles on occasion) because he gets sent to investigate murders that the US military wants kept quiet due to possible political backlash. It’s neat because he’s often sent to out-of-the-way places where there are experiencing effects of the war, but that aren’t the most famous battlegrounds, so I’ve learned a lot about different parts of WWII that I didn’t know (not that I was ever a WWII expert…). It wasn’t the kind of book I would’ve typically picked but my book club read it and I loved it so I’ve continued the series (and passed it along to multiple family members that have all loved them as well).

  6. comehometobooks

    I love war stories, too. They’re just so dramatic and heart-wrenching. You’ve listed some of my favorites, although I just can’t get into WORLD WAR Z. I enjoyed the movie, but the book just seems kinda random and plotless … I’ll probably finish it one day, but not today 🙁


    • Words for Worms

      WWZ is less a novel than a collection of short stories. I loved it, but it lacks that cohesive narrative feel. I hear the movie is completely different, so it’s probably not a good comparison point LOL.

  7. Rory

    I do like that you threw a zombie apocalypse war novel in there. It wouldn’t be complete without that. 😉

  8. Tiffany

    I really need to get around to reading Gone With the Wind. And I didn’t know about World War Z until they made a movie, but I am usually down for some zombies!

    • Words for Worms

      Gone With The Wind surprised me because I expected it to by dry and blah but it was all juicy and insane. I highly highly recommend it. World War Z is FANTASTIC if you dig zombies.

    • Words for Worms

      I love you for mentioning that :). I threw it in as I was editing and I was like, “Katie, you are such a nerd.” Which is true, but apparently I’m not the only one!

  9. Books, Tea & Me

    Bahaha, yes World War Z definitely counts as a war book — it has “war” on the cover, therefore it counts! Plus it’s a fantastic book that shouldn’t be missed. I’ve only read three books from your list (The Book Thief, The Girl You Left Behind, and World War Z), but you’ve peaked my interest for some of the others: Stones from the River and Winter Garden.

    • Words for Worms

      They are both really excellent. I tried to read another Kristin Hannah after Winter Garden and found it lacking, so don’t be put off if you aren’t into her other work!

      • Books, Tea & Me

        Well I’ve added it to my extensive to-read list, so I’ll let you know how that goes. As for The Girl You Left Behind, I sort of wish the book had just focused on Sophie and the war. (I explained it more in my review).The second story didn’t do it as much for me. What did you think?

        • Words for Worms

          I found Sophie’s story more interesting, but I got pretty wrapped up in the legalities of the “stolen” artwork. Plus I’m a sucker for a second chance love story. I liked the whole thing.

          • Books, Tea & Me

            Yeah, I also found the legalities interesting because I’ve never heard anything about it before. But I just found the second part dragged longer than I’d have liked it to.

  10. Daddio

    Maybe more adventures than wars but the Illiad and the Odyssey were both excellent. However both had a lot to say about the women and children left behind. Nothing really nice to say about them but… Fair warning, I am deploying my new bookmark today … If I can find it. It’s probably with my phone and car keys …

      • Daddio

        Yup read them BOTH in their entirety, in high school (and later). I read the Odyssey in Latin. So there! (Please listen for the raspberries!)

        • Words for Worms

          You are so sassy! You read the Odyssey in Latin, huh? Well… Talk to me when you read it in Greek! (I’m bitter than I’m depressingly monolingual…)

  11. Megan M.

    I would nominate Atonement. Such a tragic story! I thought Hunger Games would make your list, although now I can’t remember if it was outright war or more of an uprising situation like in Les Miz. Either way, people were fighting and lost their lives. Terrible.

    • Words for Worms

      I wanted to love Atonement, but it depressed me so much I have a hard time saying I liked it. The Hunger Games would have been a good choice, though the war stuff was really confined to book 3 it was an uprising too, but sadly, no muskets.

  12. Samantha

    Disclaimer: I LOVE World War II fiction. It’s usually very sad, but for some reason I just like reading it a lot. The Book Thief was amazing, and I’m surprised I didn’t cry all over it. I need to reread Les Miserables, but the story is great, for sure.

    I’ve been wanting to read Gone with the Wind, but since it’s so giant I’m not really sure how I want to go about it. The library? buy it? ebook it?

  13. Carrie-Anne

    My theme this week was WWII/Shoah books, one of my areas of historical expertise and one of the eras I’ve written about most often. I also love the Civil War, but haven’t read much about it lately.

    War and Peace is a definite must-read set during a war. I’m really overdue to reread it, hopefully more quickly than 19 days this time! I also enjoyed Meg Wolitzer’s Caribou, set during the Vietnam War, but I think it might be out of print now.

  14. Jennine G.

    I’ve read half of those and totally agree on their awesomeness! The picture of The Book Thief you have there is the edition I bought from Amazon UK. It’s my favorite cover art of the book.

  15. Sarah Says Read

    ohmygod I love this whole list. SO many I need to read (Les Mis, Code Name Verity, Gone With the Wind) and so many that I already KNOW are awesome (hello there Outlander, and The Song of Achilles). Genius topic, my friend!

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