Janet’s Bookshelf

There are many excellent books about the Holocaust, and genocide in general. The following memoirs, novels, and histories are especially compelling.

Especially Powerful

  • Violins of Hope: Violins of the Holocaust—Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind’s Darkest Hour, by James Grymes
  • After Such Knowledge: Memory, History, and the Legacy of the Holocaust, by Eva Hoffman
  • Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity, by Primo Levi, SJ Woolf, and Philip Roth
  • After the Holocaust the Bells Still Ring, Foreword by Eli Wiesel, by Joseph Polak
  • Night, by Elie Wiesel
  • All Rivers Run to the Sea: Memoirs; And the Sea Is Never Full: Memoirs, by Elie Wiesel (two-volume Autobiography)
  • Symphony on Fire: A Story of Music and Spiritual Resistance During the Holocaust, by Sonia Pauline Beker


  • The Invisible Bridge, by Julie Orringer
  • My Name is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok
  • A Thread of Grace, by Maria Doria Russell
  • Those Who Save Us, by Jenna Blum
  • The Great Escape: Nine Jews who Fled Hitler and Changed the World, by Kati Marton
  • MetaMaus, by Art Spiegelman (Pulitzer Prize winner MAUS re-visited: with interviews, historical documents, a DVD, archives, and excerpts from private notebooks.)
  • In the Garden of the Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, by Erik Larson

Children & Adolescents

  • The Butterfly and the Violin, by Kristy Cameron
  • The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
  • The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway
  • Six Million Paper Clips, by Peter W. Schroeder & Dagmar Schroeder-Hildebrand
  • Hana’s Suitcase, by Karen Levine
  • The Hundred Dresses, by Eleanor Estes
  • The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
  • Sarah’s Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay
  • The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
  • Castles Burning: A Child’s Life in War, by Magda Denes


  • Wallenberg: Missing Hero, by Kati Marton (Raoul Wallenberg)
  • Villa Air-Bel: World War II, Escape, and a House in Marseille by Rosemary Sullivan (Varian Fry)
  • Kasztner’s Train: The True Story of an Unknown Hero of the Holocaust, by Anna Porter (Rezso Kasztner)
  • The Fugu Plan: The Untold Story of the Japanese and the Jews During World War II, by Marvin Tokayer & Mary Swartz (Chiune/Sempo Sugihara)


  • Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl
  • Fisch Stories: Reflections on Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, by Robert O. Fisch
  • Conscience & Courage: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust, by Eva Fogelman
  • After Such Knowledge: Memory, History, and the Legacy of the Holocaust, by Eva Hoffman

Other Cultures

  • The Color of Water, by James McBride
  • The Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
  • The Secret Daughter, by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
  • The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, by Kao Kalia Yang
  • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down,: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures, by Anne Fadiman
  • Legacies: A Chinese Mosaic, by Bette Bao Lord
  • The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, by Ann Weisgarber
  • The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
  • Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Inside the Hotel Rwanda: The Surprising True Story … and Why It Matters Today, by Edouard Kayihura and Kerry Forty Autumns
  • Forty Autumns: A Family’s Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall, by Nina Wilner