The best books to get to know Romania and her people

Who am I?

I am an adventure traveller, author, blogger, and dog-ma. Tired of living life in thin slices, I quit work to live my dream. I wanted to travel meaningfully and get to know the countries I visit in a way that is not possible in a two-week mini-break. B.C. (Before Canines). I hurtled, slid, submerged, and threw myself off bits of every continent except Antarctica. A.D. (After Dog), Mark and I became Adventure Caravanners. Our aim: To Boldly Go Where No Van Has Gone Before. Against all advice, we toured Romania for three months and fell in love. Since then, I have been on a one-woman mission to set Romania’s record straight! My forthcoming books will chronicle our progress around Poland in a pandemic and our Brexit-busting plan to convert a 24-tonne army truck and drive to Mongolia.


I wrote...

Dogs n Dracula: A Road Trip Through Romania

By Jacqueline Lambert,

Book cover of Dogs n Dracula: A Road Trip Through Romania

What is my book about?

Have you ever thought of giving up work to head off into the sunset with surfboards on your roof? My husband Mark and I did just that, with four dogs in tow. Three years into our travels, we struck south for Spain and Portugal, but decided to turn left...

According to The Spectator, Romania is “Europe’s most overlooked holiday destination.” According to everyone else, it was somewhere we would be robbed, scammed, kidnapped, or eaten–if we managed to avoid the floods and riots. Join us as we tow our caravan through the largest, untouched wilderness in Europe, crossing the Carpathian Mountains via one of the world’s most ‘Dangerous Roads’, guided by a satnav haunted by a revenge complex more pathological than Vlad the Impaler's. This is the third book in my Adventure Caravanning with Dogs series although, like the others, it is a self-contained story. Dogs ‘n’ Dracula was a finalist in the Romania Insider Awards and is described as ‘Armchair Travel Delight’.

The books I picked & why

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Along the Enchanted Way: A Story of Love and Life in Romania

By William Blacker,

Book cover of Along the Enchanted Way: A Story of Love and Life in Romania

Why this book?

I fell in love with this book as much as I fell in love with Romania. I adored the honest and poetic way the author captured the country’s landscapes and ethnically diverse peoples at a time of great change in its history. 

Blacker travelled from England to Romania just after the fall of communism. He settled and lived among peasants in a rural world, frozen in time, and clashes with social norms when he falls for a gypsy girl. 

If you want to understand Romania, this memoir will take you a long way along the road. If you want to discover a utopia which is changing but still exists, just, this is the Haynes manual. Or if you just want a beautiful story told in lyrical prose, I highly recommend this book.


The Kilt Behind the Curtain: A Scotsman in Ceausescu's Romania

By Ronald Mackay,

Book cover of The Kilt Behind the Curtain: A Scotsman in Ceausescu's Romania

Why this book?

This funny and fascinating memoir is a great read and provides a window into what life was like behind the Iron Curtain in the 1960s, under a brutal and oppressive regime. 

Mackay spends two years in Romania’s capital, Bucharest, as visiting professor at the University. Spied on, treated warily by locals, and forbidden to travel, he nevertheless finds ways to see the country and gain insight into its culture and people.

Whether you want to find out more about Romania or you just want a captivating read which will open your mind to how different life can be without the freedoms and privileges we currently enjoy in the West, you will love this book.


Never Mind the Balkans, Here's Romania

By Mike Ormsby,

Book cover of Never Mind the Balkans, Here's Romania

Why this book?

Former BBC reporter Ormsby presents a compilation of anecdotes from his time living in Romania. 

The stories vary between shocking, upsetting, and laugh-out-loud funny. They are authentic and absorbing sketches of the characters and hardships that make up everyday life in Romania before the country had shaken every vestige of its communist past. 

Since each chapter is a complete story, this is a great book to dip into for a little light entertainment. If you’re thinking of visiting Romania, it will help to give perspective on what makes the locals tick.


The Little Book of Romanian Wisdom

By Matthew Cross, Diana Doroftei,

Book cover of The Little Book of Romanian Wisdom

Why this book?

Romania is not all Dracula and Olympic gymnasts. For example, did you know the original Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller, was an ethnic Saxon from Transylvania? 

During my time in Romania, I found her people bright and engaging. Simmer that in the melting pot of a turbulent multi-cultural history formed at a crossroads between powerful empires and it’s no surprise that the result is great insight, resilience, and wisdom. However, Romania’s minority language and time as a secretive Soviet state conspire to ensure their worldview has not been shared widely. 

Besides introducing some famous names whom you might not associate with Romania, this book is genuinely inspirational and captures the country’s spirit, humour, and culture.


Dracula

By Bram Stoker,

Book cover of Dracula

Why this book?

Why am I recommending a work of fiction, published in 1897 by an Irishman who had never set foot in Romania? Dracula is a classic of the gothic horror genre, but it’s also so much more. 

Although he never visited Transylvania, Stoker poured seven years of research into his literary masterpiece. He studied Eastern European vampire folklore, Romanian culture, and the bloodthirsty history of the very real Vlad Dracula (‘Son of Dracul’), otherwise known as Vlad Țepeș or Vlad the Impaler. Great storytelling never goes out of fashion. The story of Dracula unfolds from the points of view of various characters, interweaving letters, diaries, and ship’s log entries to heighten suspense and mystery.

If you tour Romania, Dracula is as ubiquitous as sangria in Spain, but if you want to tackle a gripping classic with a timeless theme of good versus evil, do yourself a favour and pop this on your shelf!


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Romania, Transylvania, and World War 2?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Romania, Transylvania, and World War 2.

Romania Explore 11 books about Romania
Transylvania Explore 12 books about Transylvania
World War 2 Explore 975 books about World War 2

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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