The best books to get to know Romania and her people

Why am I passionate about this?

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

By Jacqueline Lambert,

Book cover of Dogs n Dracula

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’.

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The books I picked & why

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

Jacqueline Lambert Why did I love 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.

By William Blacker,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Along the Enchanted Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Chosen for the Duchess of Cornwall's online book club The Reading Room by HRH The Prince of Wales

When William Blacker first crossed the snow-bound passes of northern Romania, he stumbled upon an almost medieval world.

There, for many years he lived side by side with the country people, a life ruled by the slow cycle of the seasons, far away from the frantic rush of the modern world. In spring as the pear trees blossomed he ploughed with horses, in summer he scythed the hay meadows and in the freezing winters gathered wood by sleigh from the forest. From…


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

Jacqueline Lambert Why did I love 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.

By Ronald Mackay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Kilt Behind the Curtain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sent deep behind the Iron Curtain to Bucharest by the British Government in 1967, Ronald Mackay serves as the “sharp end” of a trade initiative. How will he fare in communist-run Romania where suspicion abounds and Ceausescu’s Secret Police are everywhere?
With irony-tinged humour, Ronald tells of seductive informants; an ex-political-prisoner-turned-spy; fearful minorities; a hunting trip with the Communist elite; travels in Dracula’s Transylvania; of running into a company of armed tanks; and of threatening Charles de Gaulle’s attempt to be the first Western premier to court this bright but baffling tyrant-run country.


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

Jacqueline Lambert Why did I love 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.

By Mike Ormsby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Never Mind the Balkans, Here's Romania as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Never Mind the Balkans, Here’s Romania' has been described as one of the best guide books on Romania. If you want to discover Romania with someone who knows it well, Mike Ormsby’s travel writing is for you. Whilst the average Romania travel guide provides details of places to visit, this writer takes a different approach. Ormsby gets up close and personal, blending journalistic objectivity with dry wit to craft true-life stories about the people who live in Romania: from friendly hikers and shepherds in Transylvania, to exasperated taxi drivers and bossy bureaucrats in Bucharest. Ormsby's bittersweet short stories are a…


Book cover of The Little Book of Romanian Wisdom

Jacqueline Lambert Why did I love 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.

By Matthew Cross, Diana Doroftei,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Little Book of Romanian Wisdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Romania. For most of the world, the name usually conjures up images of Dracula, Olympic gymnastics legend Nadia Comaneci—and not much else. Yet this country with a rich history stretching back thousands of years contains countless wonders and hidden gems, producing many people who’ve made a major impact on our world. Their Wisdom has remained hidden behind the barrier of a language spoken by less than 25 million people worldwide. All selections within this book are from people born in Romania, including: • Hollywood legends Edward G. Robinson, Bela Lugosi (the original Dracula), and Johnny Weissmuller (the original Tarzan) •…


Book cover of Dracula

Jacqueline Lambert Why did I love 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!

By Bram Stoker,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked Dracula as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 17.

What is this book about?

'The very best story of diablerie which I have read for many years' Arthur Conan Doyle

A masterpiece of the horror genre, Dracula also probes identity, sanity and the dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire. It begins when Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula purchase a London house, and makes horrifying discoveries in his client's castle. Soon afterwards, disturbing incidents unfold in England - an unmanned ship is wrecked; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman's neck; a lunatic asylum inmate raves about the imminent arrival of his 'Master' - and a determined group of adversaries…


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Lightning Strike Blues

By Gayleen Froese,

Book cover of Lightning Strike Blues

Gayleen Froese Author Of Lightning Strike Blues

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Communications officer Singer-songwriter Fan of all animals Role-playing geek Nature photographer

Gayleen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

One summer night in a small prairie city, 18-year-old Gabriel Reece accidentally outs himself to his redneck brother Colin, flees on his motorcycle, and gets struck by lightning on his way out of town.

He’s strangely fine, walking away from his melted pile of bike without a scratch. There’s no time to consider his new inhuman durability before his brother disappears and his childhood home burns down. He’s become popular, too—local cops and a weird private eye are after him, wanting to know if his brother is behind a recent murder.

Answers might be in the ashes of the house where Gabe and Colin grew up, if Gabe and his friends can stay alive and out of jail long enough to find them.

Lightning Strike Blues

By Gayleen Froese,

What is this book about?

On Friday, Gabriel Reece gets struck by lightning while riding his motorcycle.

It's not the worst thing that happens to him that week.

Gabe walks away from a smoldering pile of metal without a scratch-or any clothes, which seem to have been vaporized. And that's weird, but he's more worried about the sudden disappearance of his brother, Colin, who ditched town the second Gabe accidentally outed himself as gay.

Gabe tries to sift through fragmented memories of his crummy childhood for clues to his sudden invincibility, but he barely has time to think before people around town start turning up…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Romania, Transylvania, and Count Dracula?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Romania, Transylvania, and Count Dracula.

Romania Explore 24 books about Romania
Transylvania Explore 15 books about Transylvania
Count Dracula Explore 16 books about Count Dracula