Alone in Berlin (Hans Fallada)
For those of you who aren't sure, no, I'm not a book critic, just a avid (almost compulsive) reader. Two weeks ago I picked up a copy of Alone in Berlin. The author died in 1947; the book is about WWII and the rise of the Nazis. Perhaps by the end of the book it's also about the fall of the Nazis - I can't tell you that, because I had to stop reading before I finished. The reviews printed on the book call it "utterly gripping, extraordinary" and yes, I'd agree with both of those critics. The write-up on the back makes it sound like a detective novel. I'd disagree with that, because that implies a certain genre with plot notes and a certain satisfaction of catching the bad guys.
Normally I'd finish a book this length in a few days, but this book is so dark and depressing - - really, really depressing - - that it took me 2 weeks to get to the middle. By the end of week 1, I was having nightmares. By the end of week 2, I was running a fever and having panic attacks, stomach aches, and upsetting my boyfriend with rehashed plot over breakfast.
This would be a great book for you if you wonder what it would be like to live under the bootheel of the Gestapo in constant fear of your life and sanity. Or if you really like WWII history and want a (oh god) realistic feeling in your bones of what it would like to be a blue-collar Berliner in 1940. Or if you just like really depressing stories that every plot strand seems unfinished and sinister.