The 1940s – Books for All Ages

Here you’ll find a list of books that are either set in the 1940s or were written during this time. This list is broken down by age but there are many books that can be enjoyed by some or all of the age groups. This list is just a sample of the thousands of books that we can access through the county-wide system. Some descriptions were taken from the catalog, others from our Literature database; Novelist (click to access from home.)

Click on Titles to be taken to the Catalog

ADULT FICTION AND NON-FICTION BOOKS (SOME MAY BE SUITABLE FOR TEENS OR EVEN CHILDREN. PLEASE ASK A LIBRARIAN FOR HELP WITH DETERMINING AGE SUITABILITY) 

The Black Dahlia By: Ellroy, James – Bucky Bleichert, ex-prize fighter and policeman, investigates when a young woman’s mutilated body appears in a vacant Los Angeles lot.

Bless Me, Ultima By: Anaya, Rudolfo A. – A young New Mexico boy comes of age.

The Blind Assassin By: Atwood, Margaret – A multi-layered story of the death of a woman’s sister and husband in the 1940s, with a novel-within-a-novel as a background.

The Colorado Kid By: King, Stephen – A rookie newspaperwoman learns the true meaning of mystery when she investigates a twenty-five-year-old unsolved and very strange case involving a dead man found on an island off the coast of Maine.

Cryptonomicon By: Stephenson, Neal – More than fifty years after Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse and Sergeant Bobby Shaftoe are assigned to Detachment 2702, a secret cryptographic mission, their grandchildren–Randy and Amy–join forces to create a “data haven” in the South Pacific, only to uncover a massive conspiracy with roots in Detachment 2702.

The Godfather By: Puzo, Mario – Don Vito Corleone controls a major mafia family in the 1940s, but when one of his sons is murdered, he fights to dominate all of the other families as well.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet By: Ford, Jamie – When artifacts from Japanese families sent to internment camps during World War II are uncovered during renovations at a Seattle hotel, Henry Lee embarks on a quest that leads to memories of growing up Chinese in a city rife with anti-Japanese sentiment.

A Lesson Before Dying By: Gaines, Ernest J. – A young illiterate African American man witnesses two black robbers kill a white store owner in Louisana in the late 1940s, and he is the one convicted.

Ordinary Heroes By: Turow, Scott – Stewart Dubinsky plunges into the mystery of his family’s secret history when he discovers his deceased father’s wartime letters to his former fiancee, revealing his court-martial and imprisonment during World World II.

Outlander By: Gabaldon, Diana – Hurtled back through time more than two hundred years to Scotland in 1743, Claire Randall finds herself caught in the midst of an unfamiliar world torn apart by violence, pestilence, and revolution and haunted by her growing feelings for James Fraser, a young soldier.

The Power of One By: Courtenay, Bryce – Follows Peekay, a white British boy in South Africa during World War II, between the ages of five and eleven, as he survives an abusive boarding school and goes on to succeed in life and the boxing ring, with help from a chicken, a boxer, a pianist, black African prisoners, and many others.

Sons of Fortune By: Archer, Jeffrey – In the late 1940s, twin boys are separated at birth, Nat going home with his middle-class parents, and Fletcher to be raised by a wealthy couple, but their lives come together when they both run for governor of Connecticut.

Wish You Well By: Baldacci, David – A coming-of-age story set in New York City and the mountains of Virginia in the 1940s. Lou and Oz Cardinal leave New York with their mother and head to live on their great-grandmother’s farm.

CHILDREN & TEEN FICTION AND NON-FICTION BOOKS (ADULTS CAN LIKE THESE TOO!)

The Art of Keeping Cool By Lisle, Janet Taylor – In 1942, Robert and his cousin Elliot uncover long-hidden family secrets while staying in their grandparents’ Rhode Island town, where they also become involved with a German artist who is suspected of being a spy.

Green Glass Sea By Klages, Ellen – It’s 1943 and 10-year-old budding inventor Dewey Kerrigan sets off with her father to do secret war work in New Mexico. As the adults work on “the gadget,” the kids at Los Alamos are often left to their own devices. When the atomic bomb tests are finally successful, both children and adults grapple with the ethical implications as they realize how “the gadget” will be used.

House of the Red Fish By Salisbury, Graham – A year after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and the arrest of Tomi’s father and grandfather, Tomi and his friends, battling anti-Japanese-American sentiment in Hawaii and try to find a way to salvage his father’s sunken fishing boat.

The Loud Silence of Francine Green By Cushman, Karen – Francine Green doesn’t speak up much, and who can blame her? Her parents aren’t interested in her opinions, the nuns at school punish girls who ask too many questions, and the House Committee on Un-American Activities is blacklisting people who express unpopular ideas. There’s safety in silence. But when outspoken, passionate Sophie Bowman transfers into Francine’s class at All Saints School for Girls, Francine finds herself thinking about things that never concerned her before free speech, the atom bomb, the existence of God, the way people treat each other.

My Chocolate Year: a novel with 12 recipes By Herman, Charlotte – In 1945 Chicago, as her Jewish family anxiously awaits news of relatives left behind in Europe, ten-year-old Dorrie learns new recipes in the hope of winning a baking competition at school.

Play Ball, Jackie! By Krensky, Stephen and Morse, Joe – It’s 1947, and 10-year-old Matty Romano is going to his first baseball game with his father to see the Brooklyn Dodgers, his favorite team. It’s also the first day for Jackie Robinson, the first Black baseball player in the major leagues. The crowd is divided between those who are outraged and those who just want to see good baseball players, no matter what their color.

Players in Pigtails By Corey, Shana – Katie Casey, a fictional character, helps start the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which gave women the opportunity to play professional baseball while America was involved in World War II.

Slap Your Sides By Kerr, M. E. – Life in their Pennsylvania hometown changes for Jubal Shoemaker and his family when his older brother witnesses to his Quaker beliefs by becoming a conscientious objector during World War II.

Ten Cents a Dance By Fletcher, Christine – With her mother ill, it’s up to fifteen-year-old Ruby Jacinski to support her family. But in the 1940s, the only opportunities open to a Polish-American girl from Chicago’s poor Yards is a job in one of the meat packing plants. Through a chance meeting with a local tough, Ruby lands a job as a taxi dancer and soon becomes an expert in the art of “fishing”: working her patrons for meals, cash, clothes, even jewelry. Drawn ever deeper into the world of dance halls, jazz, and the mob, Ruby gradually realizes that the only one who can save her is herself. A mesmerizing look into a little known world and era.

Weedflower By Kadohata, Cynthia – After twelve-year-old Sumiko and her Japanese-American family are relocated from their flower farm in southern California to an internment camp on a Mojave Indian reservation in Arizona, she helps her family and neighbors, becomes friends with a local Indian boy, and tries to hold on to her dream of owning a flower shop.

Worlds Afire By Janeczko, Paul B. – One summer afternoon in 1944, hundreds of circus lovers crowded under the big top in Hartford, Connecticut, breathlessly waiting for the show to begin. Minutes later, the event took a horrifying turn when a fire broke out and spread rapidly through the tent, claiming the lives of 167 souls and injuring some 500 more. Sixty years later, Paul B. Janeczko recalls that tragic event by bringing to life some unforgettable voices — from circus performers to seasoned fans, from firefighters and nurses to the little girl known as Little Miss 1565, a child whose body was never claimed.

 

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