My favorite books to read if you are planning a trip to Berlin

Why am I passionate about this?

Rory MacLean is one of Britain's most innovative travel writers. His books – which have been translated into a dozen languages — include UK top tens Stalin's Nose and Under the Dragon as well as Pravda Ha Ha and Berlin: Imagine a City, "the most extraordinary work of history I've ever read" according to the Washington Post which named it a Book of the Year. He has won awards from the Canada Council and the Arts Council of England and was nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary prize. He divides his time between Berlin, Toronto and the UK.


I wrote...

Berlin: Portrait of a City Through the Centuries

By Rory MacLean,

Book cover of Berlin: Portrait of a City Through the Centuries

What is my book about?

Berlin is a city of fragments and ghosts, a laboratory of ideas, the fount of both the brightest and darkest designs of history's most bloody century. The once arrogant capital of Europe was devastated by Allied bombs, divided by the Wall, then reunited and reborn as one of the creative centers of the world. Today it resonates with the echo of lives lived. No other city has repeatedly been so powerful and fallen so low; few other cities have been so shaped and defined by individual imaginations.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Berlin Alexanderplatz

Rory MacLean Why did I love this book?

Berlin is a city that is forever in the process of becoming, never being, and so lives powerfully in the imagination. Döblin's breathlessly innovative 1929 masterpiece — the most important work of literature in the Weimar years, is as hypnotic and unpredictable as the city itself.

By Alfred Doblin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Berlin Alexanderplatz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The great novel of 1920s Berlin life, in a new translation by Michael Hofmann, translator of Alone in Berlin

Franz Biberkopf is back on the streets of Berlin. Determined to go straight after a stint in prison, he finds himself thwarted by an unpredictable external agency that looks an awful lot like fate. Cheated, humiliated, thrown from a moving car; embroiled in an underworld of pimps, thugs, drunks and prostitutes, Franz picks himself up over and over again - until one day he is struck a monstrous blow which might just prove his final downfall.

A dazzling collage of newspaper…


Book cover of Mephisto

Rory MacLean Why did I love this book?

Berlin aches with absences as much as its brazen presence: the sense of lives lived, dreams realized and evils executed with an intensity so shocking that they rent the air and shook its fabric. In Mephisto, a vain and ruthless second-rate theatre actor becomes a national star by aligning himself with the Nazis. Haunting.

By Klaus Mann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mephisto as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A searing indictment of evil in Hitler's Germany. Hendrik Hofgen is a man obsessed with becoming a famous actor. When the Nazis come to power in Germany, he willingly renounces his Communist past and deserts his wife and mistress in order to keep on performing. His diabolical performance as Mephistopheles in Faust proves to be the stepping-stone he yearned for: attracting the attention of Hermann Goering, it wins Hofgen an appointment as head of the State Theatre. The rewards - the respect of the public, a castle - like villa, a uplace in Berlin's highest circles - are beyond his…


Book cover of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

Rory MacLean Why did I love this book?

John le Carré's first sight of the Berlin Wall filled him with disgust and outrage, inspiring him to write his seminal book in five weeks, freezing in time a place both perilous and clandestine. The Wall changed his life, among millions of others…and led to me becoming a writer.

By John le Carré,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked The Spy Who Came in From the Cold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Our Kind of Traitor; and The Night Manager, now a television series starring Tom Hiddleston.

The 50th-anniversary edition of the bestselling novel that launched John le Carre's career worldwide

In the shadow of the newly erected Berlin Wall, Alec Leamas watches as his last agent is shot dead by East German sentries. For Leamas, the head of Berlin Station, the Cold War is over. As he faces the prospect of retirement or worse-a desk job-Control offers him a unique opportunity for revenge. Assuming the guise of an embittered…


Book cover of Russian Disco

Rory MacLean Why did I love this book?

In 1989 when the Wall fell, Kaminer moved from Moscow to Berlin in a lucky wave of emigration. Russian Disco catches the euphoria and vodka-fueled madness of a city adrift in the flux of reunification with contract killer on the trams, black marketeers in sushi bars and artists dreaming of success as another week passes them by in non-stop, techno clubs.

By Wladimir Kaminer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Russian Disco as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Born in Moscow, Wladimir Kaminer emigrated to Berlin in the early '90s when he was 22. Russian Disco is a series of short and comic autobiographical vignettes about life among the emigres in the explosive and extraordinary multi-cultural atmosphere of '90s Berlin. It's an exotic, vodka-fuelled millennial Goodbye to Berlin. The stories show a wonderful, innocent, deadpan economy of style reminiscent of the great humorists. [Several of his European editors make a comparison with current bestseller David Sedaris.] Kaminer manages to say a great deal without seeming to say much at all. He speaks about the offbeat personal events of…


Book cover of Alone in Berlin

Rory MacLean Why did I love this book?

A moral question that lies at the heart of my fascination with the city and Germany. How would I – and you -- have measured up under Nazis or Communists? Would we have resisted the dictators, or cheered them as we marched off to war? 'Alone in Berlin' tries to answer the question.

By Hans Fallada,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Alone in Berlin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A gripping portrait of life in wartime Berlin and a vividly theatrical study of how paranoia can warp a society gripped by the fear of the night-time knock on the door.

Based on true events, Hans Fallada's Alone In Berlin follows a quietly courageous couple, Otto and Anna Quangel who, in dealing with their own heartbreak, stand up to the brutal reality of the Nazi regime. With the smallest of acts, they defy Hitler's rule with extraordinary bravery, facing the gravest of consequences.

Translated and Adapted by Alistair Beaton (Feelgood, The Trial Of Tony Blair), this timely story of the…


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Luck of the Irish

By Kate Darroch (editor),

Book cover of Luck of the Irish

Kate Darroch Author Of Death in Paris

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Living on Devon's gorgeous coast, I'm melding my lifelong love of reading Cozy Sleuths with my love of writing and years of living in foreign climes to write Travel Cozies. I also have a Vella Heist serial Found Money starting on Vella soon, and a Cozy Spy series They Call Him Gimlet coming out in the Autumn.

Kate's book list on humorous murder mysteries

What is my book about?

Ten Tantalizing Cozy Mysteries to enjoy on Saint Patrick's Day! Sure to make you chuckle and keep you guessing! Plus, the authors' favorite Saint Patrick's Day Recipes.

Have fun curling up with these Cozy stories and a delicious drink, knowing that just by enjoying these tales you are doing good in the world as well - because 100% of book sales proceeds go to a non-profit helping children living in terrible conditions (through the non-profit RAICES Texas). 

Luck of the Irish

By Kate Darroch (editor),

What is this book about?

Ten Tantalising Cozy Mysteries to enjoy on Saint Patrick's Day! Sure to make you chuckle, make you go "aawww", maybe even raise goosebumps,too - or a bump of curiosity! Plus the authors' favorite Saint Patrick's Day Recipes.

Have fun curling up with these Cozy stories and a delicious drink, knowing that just by enjoying these tales you are doing good in the world as well - because 100% of book sales proceeds go to a non-profit helping children living in terrible conditions, RAICEStexas.org


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