100 books like Alone in Berlin

By Hans Fallada,

Here are 100 books that Alone in Berlin fans have personally recommended if you like Alone in Berlin. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Berlin Alexanderplatz

Peter Wortsman Author Of Ghost Dance in Berlin: A Rhapsody in Gray

From my list on capturing the spirit of Berlin.

Who am I?

The American-born son of Jewish refugees, I would have every reason to revile the erstwhile capital of The Third Reich. But ever since my first visit, as a Fulbright Fellow in 1973, Berlin, a city painfully honest about its past, captured my imagination. A bilingual, English-German author of fiction, nonfiction, plays, poetry, travel memoir, and translations from the German, Ghost Dance in Berlin charts my take as a Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin in a villa on Wannsee, Berlin’s biggest lake, an experience marked by memorable encounters with derelicts, lawyers, a taxi driver, a hooker, et al, and with cameo appearances by Henry Kissinger and the ghost of Marlene Dietrich.

Peter's book list on capturing the spirit of Berlin

Peter Wortsman Why did Peter love this book?

Charting the interactions of various low-life characters in a stream-of-consciousness collage, tracing the city’s restless pace, Berlin Alexanderplatz, a novel by Alfred Döblin, published in 1929, mines the underbelly of the seething metropolis bursting at the seams. Considered by many to be one of the modern masterpieces of 20th-century literature, the novel follows the peregrinations of Franz Biberkopf, a pimp just out of prison, and his interactions with his erstwhile love interests and various shady associates. Döblin presents his protagonist as a kind of Everyman. I swear I encountered Biberkopf’s reincarnation in a homeless derelict crooning the German version of Sinatra’s “I Did it My Way” at an outdoor karaoke arena.  

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 Author Of Berlin: Portrait of a City Through the Centuries

From my list on Berlin, its history, and the art it has inspired.

Who am I?

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.

Rory's book list on Berlin, its history, and the art it has inspired

Rory MacLean Why did Rory 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

David L. Robbins Author Of War of the Rats

From my list on love and war and describing both battlefields.

Who am I?

I’ve penned (so far) seventeen novels, most set during some historical conflict or other, all of them revolving around intense personal relationships (loyalty, love, betrayal, those sorts of profound truths). I tend to read the sorts of books I wish to write. I also teach creative writing at a university (VCU); I tell my students that if they want to really know what a character is made of, shoot at them or have them fall in love. In my own work, I do both.

David's book list on love and war and describing both battlefields

David L. Robbins Why did David love this book?

The Cold War is the war I was born into. No writer has chronicled the competition between superpowers better than LeCarre.

When Alec Leamas falls for Liz, he’s not aware of the depth of his feelings until she’s murdered as a pawn in the great game between Russia and the West. The revenge he seeks and the resolution he acquires are among LeCarre’s best efforts.

I was riveted to every scene. 

By John le Carré,

Why should I read it?

13 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 Author Of Berlin: Portrait of a City Through the Centuries

From my list on Berlin, its history, and the art it has inspired.

Who am I?

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.

Rory's book list on Berlin, its history, and the art it has inspired

Rory MacLean Why did Rory 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 A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City

Abby Smith Rumsey Author Of Memory, Edited: Taking Liberties with History

From my list on when history gets personal.

Who am I?

It was in 1982, while a Fulbright scholar in the USSR researching my doctoral dissertation, that I realized my responsibility as a historian extended far beyond writing history books. I lived among Russians and saw up close how the Kremlin-controlled what citizens knew about their own past. The future was already determined—the end of class struggle. The past was merely a made-up prologue. As a consequence of that year, I focus on the creation, preservation, and accessibility of cultural knowledge. History clues us into where we come from. Like a DNA test, it reveals how our single life is intricately braided with people we will never meet.

Abby's book list on when history gets personal

Abby Smith Rumsey Why did Abby love this book?

Another first-person account of war, this time seen through the other end of the telescope: when the victorious Red Army occupied Berlin in 1945.

The order of the day was sadistic revenge meted out on the civilian population. As usual, women bore the worst of it. Regardless of age, each was raped and brutalized. After the war, none spoke of this for fear of being stigmatized. The author was an exception: she wrote matter-of-factly about what she experienced and witnessed, not trying to make sense of it.

She recorded the horrid reality in order to hold on to her sanity. She noted how scared and confused the Russians were, bewildered by the abundance of bourgeois life and embittered by their own poverty at home. 

By Anonymous, Philip Boehm (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

For eight weeks in 1945, as Berlin fell to the Russian army, a young woman kept a daily record of life in her apartment building and among its residents. "With bald honesty and brutal lyricism" (Elle), the anonymous author depicts her fellow Berliners in all their humanity, as well as their cravenness, corrupted first by hunger and then by the Russians. "Spare and unpredictable, minutely observed and utterly free of self-pity" (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland), A Woman in Berlin tells of the complex relationship between civilians and an occupying army and the…


Book cover of All the Light We Cannot See

Vanessa Lee Author Of High Rise

From my list on celebrating the bravery of everyday heroes.

Who am I?

I am an Australian writer living in Europe. Returning to my hometown on the East Coast of Australia post-COVID, I confronted relentless rain and king tides threatening the beach promenade cafes. Witnessing the potential demise of these familiar spots sparked the idea for my novel. Opening with a dystopian scene of future tourists exploring submerged coastal cafes with snorkels, my work delves into the realm of "cli-fi" (climate fiction). Against the backdrop of imminent climate danger, my characters, a lovable yet obstinate Australian ensemble, navigate a world profoundly altered by the impacts of climate change. I hope what I have written is an exaggeration. I fear it may not be.

Vanessa's book list on celebrating the bravery of everyday heroes

Vanessa Lee Why did Vanessa love this book?

Last summer, I visited Saint-Malo in Brittany, France, an extraordinary walled city on the Atlantic Coast where this beautiful novel is set.

Wars breed everyday heroes, and this book introduces us to one, the blind, young Marie-Laure. Despite Saint-Malo being under German occupation in WW2, she courageously risks her own life by using a radio to send daily dispatches from her attic to the Allied Forces. Her stoic heroism and valuable intelligence ultimately play a pivotal role in the Allies liberating Saint-Malo and afterward, the whole of France.

A well-deserved international bestseller, the book powerfully underscores the notion that ordinary individuals can indeed change history.

By Anthony Doerr,

Why should I read it?

37 authors picked All the Light We Cannot See as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE 2015 PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR FICTION

A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II

Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.'

For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic…


Book cover of Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History

Matthew Arnold Stern Author Of The Remainders

From my list on Jewish families in crisis.

Who am I?

Reseda, California plays an important part in my novels. I grew up there in a middle-class Jewish family, and we experienced the turmoil of the 1960s and 1970s. My parents got divorced, and my brother and I were raised by our working mom until she became paralyzed by a stroke. I found refuge in writing. I wrote The Remainders in 2016 during a tumultuous time when issues of family conflict, homelessness, and the growing cruelty of society came into focus. Still, I believe decency and compassion will prevail. The books I write and enjoy reading seek to find light in the darkest of circumstances.

Matthew's book list on Jewish families in crisis

Matthew Arnold Stern Why did Matthew love this book?

I read this powerful graphic novel series when the first collections came out in the 1980s.

It shows the horrors of the Holocaust and the impact it has on the families of the survivors. Maus is best known for depicting Jews as mice and Nazis as cats, but Art’s troubled relationship with his father Vladik and the death of his mother Anja by suicide frame the story.

Maus is my favorite graphic novel series and a must-read for understanding the Holocaust and how it shaped Jewish life since.

By Art Spiegelman,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Maus I as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling first installment of the graphic novel acclaimed as “the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust” (Wall Street Journal) and “the first masterpiece in comic book history” (The New Yorker) • PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • One of Variety’s “Banned and Challenged Books Everyone Should Read”

A brutally moving work of art—widely hailed as the greatest graphic novel ever written—Maus recounts the chilling experiences of the author’s father during the Holocaust, with Jews drawn as wide-eyed mice and Nazis as menacing cats.

Maus is a haunting tale within a tale, weaving the author’s account of his…


Book cover of The Book Thief

Mark Stibbe Author Of A Book in Time

From my list on the magic of books, bookshops, and libraries.

Who am I?

When I was a boy, my adoptive father – a star pupil and friend of C.S. Lewis – heard I’d started reading the Sherlock Holmes stories. He bought every Sherlock Holmes book he could find. I remember lifting one to my nose and smelling the pages. I fell in love with books that day. I went on to earn a senior scholarship in English Literature at Cambridge University, and a PhD in storytelling. Since then, I have written over 50 books of my own and ghostwritten over 30 titles. I now host The Christian Storyteller Channel on YouTube, and I run BookLab, dedicated to helping emerging authors. My whole life is books.

Mark's book list on the magic of books, bookshops, and libraries

Mark Stibbe Why did Mark love this book?

I love the way this story is narrated by Death.

I love unusual first-person narrators anyway. But the idea of Death telling the story of a young girl in World War 2 who grows to love words and adore books, that’s genius. I love it! And I love the way that this girl, Liesel, comes to a very Hebraic understanding of the power of words to give life.

This, in the end, causes a great reversal. Instead of Liesel being frightened of death, Death is frightened of her! I love the idea of books containing something that’s stronger than death.

By Markus Zusak,

Why should I read it?

28 authors picked The Book Thief as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

'Life affirming, triumphant and tragic . . . masterfully told. . . but also a wonderful page-turner' Guardian
'Brilliant and hugely ambitious' New York Times
'Extraordinary' Telegraph
___

HERE IS A SMALL FACT - YOU ARE GOING TO DIE

1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.
Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.

SOME IMPORTANT…


Book cover of A Child of Hitler: Germany in the Days When God Wore a Swastika

L. Annette Binder Author Of The Vanishing Sky

From my list on German complicity and resistance in WW2.

Who am I?

I was born in Germany and came to the US as a small child. My parents spoke only German at home but rarely talked with me about their years in Germany. Years after my father had died, I came across a photograph of him wearing a Hitler Youth uniform. What I learned about his childhood and his family inspired much of my novel The Vanishing Sky. Though my novel is finished, I continue to read about the German experience of WW2 because it resonates for me personally and because the lessons it teaches us are still relevant today.

L. Annette's book list on German complicity and resistance in WW2

L. Annette Binder Why did L. Annette love this book?

Heck’s plain-spoken memoir of his indoctrination into Nazism as a young boy and his time in the Hitler Youth and the German military is powerful and honest. Long after he’d left Germany as an adult, Heck continued to grapple with his own complicity in the regime and his fervent beliefs in its goals. The Hitler Youth was particularly adept at tapping into young boys’ yearning to be heroes. Heck explains the lingering effects of his indoctrination, noting that, “Despite our monstrous sacrifice and the appalling misuse of our idealism, there will always be the memory of unsurpassed power, the intoxication of fanfares and flags proclaiming our new age.” This was a fascinating read for me personally, given the similarities between Heck’s experiences and those of my father, and it was an invaluable resource as I wrote my own novel. 

By Alfons Heck,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Child of Hitler as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this starkly candid account of one boy's indoctrination into the Hitler Youth, we see a side of Nazism that has been little recorded. This autobiographical account is a rare glimpse at World War II from a German boy's viewpoint.


Book cover of Dark Star

Patrick W. O'Bryon Author Of Corridor of Darkness

From my list on espionage and resistance in Hitler's Third Reich.

Who am I?

While a graduate student and then an army interpreter in Germany, I listened to reminiscences from both Third Reich military veterans and former French resistance fighters. Their tales picked up where my father's stories of pre-war European life always ended, and my fascination with this history knew no bounds. On occasion I would conceal my American identity and mentally play the spy as I traversed Europe solo. A dozen years later upon the death of my father, I learned from my mother his great secret: he had concealed his wartime life as an American spy inside the Reich. His private journals telling of bravery and intrigue inspire each of my novels.

Patrick's book list on espionage and resistance in Hitler's Third Reich

Patrick W. O'Bryon Why did Patrick love this book?

As the first in his series of novels on the 1930s in Europe, Alan Furst's Night Soldier tends to earn the most critical praise, but Dark Star remains my personal favoriteFurst masters the noir ambiance and moral ambiguity of Europe as war approaches, where everyday people are drawn into the world of espionage and intrigue. His settings often lie outside the main urban centers of Paris and Berlin in the remote reaches of Eastern Europe. Furst's novels are impeccably researched for accurate detail-one of my must-haves in historical fiction-and each book will draw you to read the next in his series.

By Alan Furst,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Andre Szara, survivor of the Polish pogroms and the Russian civil wars, is a journalist working for Pravda in 1937. War in Europe is already underway and Szara is co-opted to join the NKVD, the Soviet secret intelligence agency. He does his best to survive the tango of pre-war politics by calmly obeying orders and keeping his nose clean. But when he is sent to retrieve a battered briefcase the plot thickens and is drawn into even more complex intrigues.

Szara becomes a full-time spymaster and as deputy director of a Paris network, he finds his own star rising when…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in theatres, drama, and German resistance to Nazism?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about theatres, drama, and German resistance to Nazism.

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