All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr
This beautifully crafted novel is set largely in France during World War II and chronicles the intersecting paths of two ordinary people – a boy who grows up in a German orphanage and is trained as a radio specialist for the Nazis, and a blind French girl who escapes Paris with her father when the Nazis arrive and ends up in the walled coastal enclave of Saint Malo. It is a multi-layered tale written in short, crisp chapters that evoke not only the horrors of war but the decency and goodness that emerge in humanity’s darkest moments. Full of subtle and provocative subtexts, and thoroughly accessible to the reader, this book is a literary masterpiece – and one of my all-time favorite novels.
Florian Illies - 1913: The Year Before the Storm
One of the most original and satisfying works of non-fiction in recent memory, 1913 offers a month-by-month chronicle of the year that led up to WWI, told entirely through vignettes drawn from the worlds of art, music, literature, politics, and culture. The end result is an evocative, entertaining, and sometimes troubling portrait of the world marching itself to war.