"The Book Thief" is a classic because it uses a dark period of history to accentuate an important lesson in the freedom of choice. The author's choice to use a child's perspective shaped the reading experience in a positive way. The lessons of friendship, bravery, and standing up for what is right extend beyond the time period of Nazi Germany and apply universally to today.
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. This book masterfully combines the true stories of a serial killer and the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. All spoken words are verified from written sources, but it reads like a fast-paced novel. Larson paints an incredible picture of the time period. Needs to be made into a movie!