5 Gripping Books That Will Take You Back to WW1

Get ready for intense feels!


The first World War claimed many lives and made families go through a lot of  pain. Today, however, all that we know about the Great War are merely compressed different chapters of history books. 

If you are not a fan of reading these thick textbooks, you might not have a clear picture of what really happened to countries and people during that chaotic time. Thankfully, our beloved fiction books can save the day.

Lots of authors have written about World War 1 and told the story of the people who lived during that time. Through the power of words, they will open your eyes to the realities of living in a world at war.

Among the hundreds of titles, I picked out the best ones that you definitely should not miss. 

Fall of Giants by Ken Follet

Fall of Giants tells the story of the events that led to World War 1 through the eyes of five very different personalities - aristocrats, orphans, coal-miners, spies, and government employees. Although they hail from different countries, their lives entangle because of love, hate, fear, revolution, and war.

This book is one of the most popular historical fiction novels of all time. Do not be intimidated by the length - it is quite a thick book - but that is only because there is a lot of amazing stories to tell.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front is told from the perspective of Paul Baumer, a young German who decides to sign up for the army with his friends. He trained well and stayed disciplined, dreaming that one day he will be able to fight for his country. When he finally goes to the battlefield, he quickly realizes the harsh realities of the war. He is introduced to the devastating effects it brings to people. He transforms from an optimistic youth into a mature adult who wants to stand up against the meaningless violence that forces men of his age to end lives.

All Quiet on the Western Front will give you a clear picture of the terrors that war soldiers are forced to live with - from stealing poultry to stabbing a man to death. It will make you feel their fears and appreciate their heroic acts even more.

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs is a private detective of her own firm. Her first assignment involves a couple possibly dealing with infidelity. As she tries to confirm whether or not there is a third person in their marriage, she stumbles across obstacles that take her back to her life before and during the war. Back then, she was struggling to finish her education and became a nurse for wounded soldiers. The story follows her adventure, her love story, and how she heals from the emotional scars she got from the war

Compared to other World War 1 novels, Maisie Dobbs focuses more on how people tried to go back to their regular lives after all the dust from the war has settled. This, plus the mystery that Maisie is trying to solve - will take you on a unique journey.

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

The Girl You Left Behind follows the story of two girls - Sophie, who was left behind by a husband who wanted to join the army, and Liv, a girl who was widowed at a young age. They lived in different centuries - Sophie during the WW1 and Liv in the present time. They both fiercely fight for the men they loved the most. Sophie did everything she can to prevent her husband from choosing the military life. Liv, on the other hand, fought against the law so she could hold on to a present that her late husband gave her. 

This fictional tale showcases how women can also fight - not with arms, but with wit and a heart that loves fiercely. If you loved Moyes’ other novels, you will definitely be hooked with this one, too.

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

War Horse is told from the perspective of a horse, Joey, who was sold to the military and was used to serve in the Cavalry. As he fights in the war, he longs to be reunited to Albert, the little boy who raised him. This keeps him motivated him as he plunges in the middle of the violent yet meaningless battles and deals with friendship, death, loss, and grief.  

War is always filled with chaos and pointless violence where death and destruction are the only things left in its wake. Beyond the principles and ideologies that caused the war, it’s always the people who suffer because of pointless fights between empires or governments.These books will give you glimpses of the different realities people had to face and the battles each one of them fought in – not simply to win but to survive.

Are your favorite World War 1 novels included in this list? What other works do you recommend? We'd love to know!


  1. My favourite World War 2 book is the Pulitzer prize winner, All the Light you cannot see! I hope to see it on the sequel to this list!
    Nevertheless, I really want to read Ken Follet's Fall of Giants, for sure.

  2. I love Ken Follett and Jojo Moyes! This is always a great time period to read about, there are so many different possible points of view. I actually hadn’t heard of these two books before. My list is Jon books I need to read just keeps growing!

  3. Interesting read and well researched too. I enjoyed your post greatly.