Lest We Forget: Books About World War One

Posted November 11, 2015 by Ely in Other / 4 Comments


I read, think and talk a lot about World War Two and The Holocaust and I will actually have a post focusing on WW2 in the future, but today I thought I’d do something a little different. World War One is sort of the ‘big war’ for Australia. On the 25th of April 1915, the Gallipoli Campaign started in which a lot of our boys died. The 25th is ANZAC day in Australia, and unfortunately I didn’t have this idea then for the 100th anniversary.

Today, however, is Remembrance Day, and I thought it would be a good time to share some books about WW1 for once. I didn’t include any books about Gallipoli, because one) I want to save it for ANZAC day next year, and two) I couldn’t afford the ones I wanted. So here are the three books I wanted to talk about today.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
All Quiet on the Western Front is a short, but incredibly moving book. It looks at life on the Western front from a German perspective, which is pretty rare at least from what I’ve personally seen/read/heard of. I studied the 1979 movie four years ago for 20th century history in high school, and it’s stuck with me ever since. I didn’t get the chance to read the book until last week, but I remembered enough of what happened to the point where I thought I’d be okay. Nope. The writing is so incredibly beautiful and raw—it completely tore my heart out all over again. I can’t recommend it highly enough, and I’m desperate to get to some more of Remarque’s books as soon as I can.

Poetry of the First World War
This is an anthology of poetry collected by Tim Kendall. I’m not super well-versed (see what I did there?) in poetry, but I knew a few of these poets before reading the collection—from authors like Thomas Hardy and Rudyard Kipling, to poets like Wilfred Owen. The thing with poetry collections is you’re not going to love every poet or poem, but I enjoyed the vast majority of these. The best thing about this book is the fact that there is a little background on each poet—it tells you where they grew up, where they fought, what happened to them etc. I really, really liked that because I felt like I could understand the poems better. I would most definitely recommend this, whether you like poetry or not. It’s incredible.

Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain
Okay, so I haven’t actually finished this one yet, but in my defence it is 600+ pages long. This is a memoir about Vera Brittain who got a scholarship to Oxford in 1914, but decided to give it up to become a nurse. There’s also a recently made movie of this starring Kit Harrington. The trailer makes me ugly cry every time.

I’m going to talk about Testament of Youth once I’ve finished the book, and seen the film so if you’re interested check back for that in December sometime. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this post.


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4 responses to “Lest We Forget: Books About World War One

  1. It’s kind of sad to see that there aren’t many books that are about WWI, so it’s nice to see a change from WWII! (from us especially). I also didn’t know Australia was involved with WWI!

    I really want to read the Poetry anthology from the Great War. I really want to get more into poetry in general, but the library never seems to have anything I like.

    • Ely

      I’ve found that most books about WWI are non-fiction, while obviously there’s a lot more range in WWII books. I don’t know why, it’s weird. I don’t even know what to say about that Australia comment.

      There are couple of different anthologies of poetry for WWII. The one I had was the Oxford University Press version.

  2. Wow, I adore this! I totally agree that we never seem to talk about WWI at all, which is quite sad. There were so many heroes of that war too, and it’s nice to acknowledge them! One book I read recently that dealt with WWI was The Uninvited by Cat Winters.

    And oh my goodness. You weren’t kidding about that trailer. I am in tears! I am absolutely checking back for your thoughts on this! Both the book and the movie have phenomenal reviews!

    • Ely

      Thanks Shannon! I think it’s because it was so long ago now, and I don’t know that any veterans are still alive. It makes it easier to forget when there’s no one there to remind you. I didn’t know The Uninvited was WWI—I’ll have to add it to my TBR.

      It looks incredible, doesn’t it? And also completely heartbreaking. I’m kind of scared for it, to be honest.