Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'd Give to Readers Who Have Never Read Holocaust Literature

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and it's a way to share what you're loving in list form. The topic changes every week, so there is always something new to discover!
This week's theme is:  Books I'd Give to Readers Who Have Never Read Holocaust Literature.  Sorry it's going to be a heavy topic, but there are so many wonderful HL books and authors out there who NEED to be read!  Some will be works of fiction, others will be survivor literature/testimony.  All are necessary!

Here goes...

Poems of Paul Celan by Paul Celan or Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew by John Felstiner
  • A Holocaust survivor, Celan turned to poetry in an attempt to cope with the atrocities he faced while imprisoned.  He is known as THE writer of the Holocaust and he's brilliant; and the poems are NOT pretty.  The first is a collection of his poetry.  The second is a biography that is fantastic.
This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeuz Borowski
  • Another survivor, of Dachau and Auschwitz, Borowski wrote a collection of short stories to chronicle his experiences during the Holocaust.  They are brutal and concise and completely worth reading.
Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • A work of fiction, Foer crafts a beautifully brilliant story of discovery and adventure.  The character, also named Jonathan Safran Foer, sets out to find the woman who may have saved his grandfather from the Nazis.  It's heartbreaking, heartwarming, hilarious, and just plain awesome.  The movie is fantastic as well.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • If you haven't read this book, do so now!  Zusak weaves a beautiful story about Liesel, one of the most touching characters I've read in a long time, and her relationship with her foster family, a boxing Jew, and books during World War II.  Also, it's narrated by Death, so that makes it awesome.  Though technically not Holocaust Literature, I'm counting it.
Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi
  • Probably the preeminent account of life in Auschwitz, Levi chronicles his ten month captivity, sparing nothing for the reader.  Despite the atrocities, there are moments of humor to be found and it's a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.  It's a must read.
Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald
  • A fractured novel incorporating photographs in unexpected places, Sebald weaves a tale of history, loss, memory, and the Kindertransport.  It's a beautifully dense novel, written in two paragraphs...yeah...two paragraphs, that is a testament to Europe's "avoidance system" and is nearly impossible to put down.
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  • Incorporating his experiences as a Holocaust survivor, along with those he treated in his practice, Frankl utilizes his psychiatric abilities to convey how suffering is unavoidable but that there are ways to cope with the atrocities life deals us.  The term logotherapy, the notion that the discovery and pursuit of what we find personally meaningful is what drives us, is attributed to Frankl and he lays this out in the book.  This book will change your life if you let it.
Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian
  • Bohjalian's novel follows a group of people, thrown together, attempting to cross from Poland to the British and American lines during the last few months of World War II.  The group includes Prussian aristrocrats, a POW, and a Wehrmacht corporal (or is he?).  It is a wonderfully written novel. 
Night by Elie Wiesel
  • In Night, Wiesel lays out his and his father's experiences as prisoners in Auschwitz and Buchenwald.  A short novella, it is incredibly powerful from the very beginning.  Not only are you able to see the decline of the war, the people, and hope, you are also shown just how such situations cause a massive decline between family members. 
The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn
  • A work that blends memoir, reporting, mystery, and scholarly detective work, Mendelsohn details how the disappearance of six family members during the Holocaust overshadows the family decades later.  Upon discovering letters written in 1939, he sets out to discover what happened to those family members.  It highlights the inconsistency between history and the stories that are passed along.
Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman
  • A graphic novel featuring animals instead of humans, it tells the story of Spiegelman's father and his experiences in a concentration camp.  It also highlights the relationship between survivors and their children.  The novel is groundbreaking and important and worth reading.
Okay, I have eleven listed...twelve if you're counting the first one as two (which they are...whoops), but it's too hard to narrow it down!  There are so many great options in the Holocaust Literature genre from both fiction and non-fiction standpoints.  I did not include The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank...everyone should have read this one at some point in their life already. 

Have you read much Holocaust Literature?  And, if so, what springs to mind?

Also, look for next week's top ten:  Books I'm Not Sure I Want to Read

Happy reading!


  1. I enjoyed reading both Night and Maus I & II nice list! Here's my TTT list this week:

    1. They're all such great reads. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I love Holocaust literature - I will have to check out the ones I haven't read yet
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

    1. Me too! Thanks for stopping by, Missie :)

  3. I've read "The Book Thief" and am so pleased to see more books in this genre. It's a very important story to tell!

    Here is our Top Ten books for people who've never read horror.

  4. I like the originality of your list. I'm not that familiar with Holocaust literature, so your list is really helpful. I have Night which has been on my bookshelf for awhile. Your list makes me want to read it!

    1. It's such an amazing book!!! Definitely read it. Thanks for visiting, Monica :)

  5. No Diary of Anne Frank? Interesting.
    I can't read Holocaust literature, I just get way too upset.
    Here's my list, if you wanna check it out. :) I'm experimenting with doing them on YouTube now, please like and comment if you can :)

    1. I did include "The Diary of a Young Girl" at the bottom, but most people have read it so it wasn't included in my list. There is a method to my madness :) Thanks for stopping by, Matthew!


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