The siege of Leningrad lasted 900 days and hardly any food went in or out. In two months alone, January and February 1942, over 200,000 people died. Elise Blackwell's slender, lovely novelette Hunger conveys the experiences of botanists refusing to consume their rare collection of seeds as the citizens around them try to sell grand pianos, bodies--and worse--for food. Read this in two hours and remind yourself how World War II is still the controlling narrative of our times.

TMN Contributing Writer Anthony Doerr is the author of four books: The Shell Collector, About Grace, Four Seasons in Rome, and most recently, Memory Wall. He lives in Boise, Idaho, writes the “On Science” column for the Boston Globe, and is a 2010 Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Learn more at More by Anthony Doerr

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