Sometimes it seems like every day, from morning until evening, we’re fighting a small war. We fight to adjust to a world of uncertainty, we fight to protect ourselves and those we love, we fight to keep up morale and hope for the future.

You could say we’re all just “surviving.” This experience is nothing new in the annals of human history, however; we can take comfort in the fact that we have survived many a difficult duration, and learned something new and important every time. Also, every time, displays of courage have given us heart. When the world is weary it’s a golden opportunity to grasp those stories and let them inspire us to be grateful for our present gifts and keep fighting the good fight.

One of those time periods, and perhaps one of the first that comes to mind, occurred from 1939-1945; World War Two. So many people suffered and died during those years, and destruction, desolation, and uncertainty became their new normal. There’s always a story to tell, though, and these are seven stories of resilience, courage, and self-sacrifice that came out of those dark years. No matter what we go through personally and universally, we can always find a book to lean on that reminds us of the shared human experiences of hope and happiness.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

“In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are.” Bestselling author Kristin Hannah paints a powerful portrait of World War II with special emphasis on the women’s war. The Nightingale depicts two very different sisters, paving their own ways as best they can through German-occupied, war-torn France. This is a gorgeous and gut-wrenching novel holding up the resilience of courageous women who played an integral role in the outcome of the war, as well as reflecting on the depths, darkness, and determination of humanity itself. The book has received rave reviews from a variety of sources including USA Today, Kirkus Reviews, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, and will undoubtedly leave an impact on anyone who reads it.

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Transcription by Kate Atkinson

A “suspenseful, moving, insightful and original” novel, according to The San Francisco Chronicle by the #1 bestselling author of Life After Life who now delivers another winner with this sweeping story in Transcription. Our protagonist, Juliet Armstrong of England, becomes a typist for MI5 at the very beginning of wartime. Her superiors task her with the job of listening in and recording the conversations of suspected British fascists. This position eventually proves highly dangerous and highly convoluted as the war progresses and nothing is as it first seemed. Atkinson offers a unique perspective in Juliet, a spunky, intelligent woman who does indeed have her faults and weakness and is caught in a difficult scenario that tests her beyond any expectations. Overall, the novel presents a fascinating glimpse into a life completely transformed by war.

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Little Anton by John W. Warner IV

Strap yourself in for a wild ride as the brilliant, brazen British pilot Lady Bea flies you straight into the heady whirlwind and gritty glamour of 1930s European Grand Prix racing. Can Lady Bea convince Lutz Becker — a Hitler loyalist — to steal Professor Porsche’s secret advanced technology? Bea and Lutz fight for their lives to expose the untold story of the hidden weapons that propelled WWII. The Little Anton series continues with the forthcoming sequel, Lion, Tiger, Bear. This mystery thriller is set amid the Desert War of 1942-3, where the hunt is on for a secret Nazi SS mining operation and aircraft base in Iraq directly linked to Germany’s multiple atomic bomb programs. In our Q&A with the author, he said, “The inspiration for Bea came from many true accounts of WW2 spies, both male and female. Her cutting humor, historical knowledge, mechanical prowess, hair-brained schemes, and love of speed and flying come from me. The role of women during the war has never been illuminated at length; women proved themselves over and over in many roles. The war was a game-changer.” (Read our review here.)

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Silver Wings, Iron Cross by Tom Young

Here we switch the focus from women to men, as the author Tom Young draws upon his own military experience to pen this vivid novel about airforce pilots. Though he himself fought in Afganistan and Iraq, his grandfather flew fighter planes during World War Two. When putting it all together, the author added an intriguing plot twist; an intriguing plot twist: What if two enemies The result is a fictitious novel with so many distinct details, thoughtful reflections, and daring action sequences that it provides the reader with a passenger-seat-view through the window of a B-17 Flying Fortress looking out at a danger-filled and morally blurred world. (Read our review here.)

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The Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer

An incredible, important work of fiction with a touch of humor, this novel is a harrowing Holocaust story and, thankfully, a survival story. It focuses on a concerned American who dedicates himself to saving famous artists by assisting in their often difficult and convoluted departure from France during the war. Orringer packs a punch with a multileveled, engaging story inspired by the courageous, real-life Varian Fry. Here is someone brave enough to put his life on the line, time and time again, for the good of others and the preservation of art in Nazi-occupied France. (Read our review here.)

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The Art of Resistance by Justus Rosenberg

As Nazis descended upon his town of Danzig, Justus Rosenberg flees to Paris in a quest for safety. When the Nazis followed him there, Justus went underground, and so began a daring chapter in his life that would force him to grow up immediately. Joining the French Resistance, he stayed alive and active, a young Jewish man without a nation, fighting against the Nazis and the hate they represented. Now, more than half a century later, as a new Resistance amasses to combat the rise of nationalism in America and Europe, this memoir is as timely as ever. (Read our review here.)

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Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

A woman going by the name of “Verity” is a secret agent for the resistance until she’s captured in enemy territory by the dreaded Gestapo. They will do everything they can to get her to spill her story, and as she carefully details it to her jailers (and we the readers) on paper, her tale is entirely unexpected. Not simply a black-and-white account of events, Verity faces and deliberates upon her motives, morals, and mettle. The book doesn’t end with the end of her history, of course; will she survive to see a future? Code Name Verity infiltrates the mind and heart with poignancy and power, analyzing fighting and friendship, horror and heart, loss and loyalty with the skill of a noteworthy author.

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