100 books like Berlin Calling

By Paul Hockenos,

Here are 100 books that Berlin Calling fans have personally recommended if you like Berlin Calling. 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 Reading Berlin 1900

Brian Ladd Author Of The Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape

From my list on understanding 20th-century Berlin.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of cities and the ways people shape them. Living in Berlin, both before and after the Wall came down, made me aware of how the shared experiences and memories of particular places give meaning to civic life. (And for a historian it was thrilling to find a place where history was taken very seriously.) Although I have since written broader studies—of cars and cities (Autophobia) and of earlier street life (The Streets of Europe)–it was the experience of living in Berlin while learning its history that enabled me to see the layers of meaning embedded in buildings and streets.

Brian's book list on understanding 20th-century Berlin

Brian Ladd Why did Brian love this book?

There are many books about the glitz and the cultural icons that we associate with Weimar Berlin. This one gives us a broader and deeper picture. Instead of concentrating on a few writers and artists, it anchors the city’s creative explosion in mass-market newspapers and their readers, turning our eyes to people in the streetcars and cafés and the stories they read about their own lives. We can read about sensational crimes just as Berliners did, and we find the prototypes of modern art in the layout and content of newspapers and in the chaos of the streets where they are hawked.

By Peter Fritzsche,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Reading Berlin 1900 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The great cities at the turn of the century were mediated by words--newspapers, advertisements, signs, and schedules--by which the inhabitants lived, dreamed, and imagined their surroundings. In this original study of the classic text of urban modernism--the newspaper page--Peter Fritzsche analyzes how reading and writing dramatized Imperial Berlin and anticipated the modernist sensibility that celebrated discontinuity, instability, and transience. It is a sharp-edged story with cameo appearances by Georg Simmel, Walter Benjamin, and Alfred Doeblin. This sumptuous history of a metropolis and its social and literary texts provides a rich evocation of a particularly exuberant and fleeting moment in history.


Book cover of Goodbye to Berlin

Peter Chapman Author Of Bananas: How the United Fruit Company Shaped the World

From my list on telling stories from real life.

Why am I passionate about this?

Fact is often more fascinating than fiction, and on occasions, a lot weirder too. As someone, London-based though lucky to have travelled extensively in Europe since childhood (my mother was keen to visit places where my father had been stationed in the Second World War) and more recently as a journalist (for The Financial Times, BBC, The Guardian, and others) in the Americas, Asia, and Africa, I have always been attracted to stories that strongly convey senses of time, place and the people you just happen to meet.

Peter's book list on telling stories from real life

Peter Chapman Why did Peter love this book?

The book, set in the early 1930s, is from a fleeting period when the liberal pleasures of the German capital made it the European place to be. An English teacher of reserved social origins, Isherwood writes of the Berlin characters who enlivened his life, against the forbidding backdrop of Hitler's rise to power. Cabaret, the film adapted from the book, led Isherwood to insist his version of events was far nearer to how things were.

By Christopher Isherwood,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Goodbye to Berlin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1934, Goodbye to Berlin has been popularized on stage and screen by Julie Harris in I Am a Camera and Liza Minelli in Cabaret. Isherwood magnificently captures 1931 Berlin: charming, with its avenues and cafes; marvelously grotesque, with its nightlife and dreamers; dangerous, with its vice and intrigue; powerful and seedy, with its mobs and millionaires - this was the period when Hitler was beginning his move to power. Goodbye to Berlin is inhabited by a wealth of characters: the unforgettable and "divinely decadent"Sally Bowles; plump Fraulein Schroeder, who considers reducing her Buste relieve her heart palpitations;…


Book cover of Berlin at War

Patrick W. O'Bryon Author Of Corridor of Darkness

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

This author offers a well-crafted history of daily life inside the Reich, a fascinating exploration of the German capital as the Nazi movement brought its citizens to their knees. Extensively researched and documented, Moorhouse vividly portrays the daily oppression and challenges faced on all societal fronts. This well-crafted study enmeshes the reader in life under totalitarian rule.

By Roger Moorhouse,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Berlin at War , acclaimed historian Roger Moorhouse provides a magnificent and detailed portrait of everyday life at the epicentre of the Third Reich. Berlin was the stage upon which the rise and fall of the Third Reich was most visibly played out. It was the backdrop for the most lavish Nazi ceremonies, the site of Albert Speer's grandiose plans for a new world metropolis," and the scene of the final climactic battle to defeat Nazism. Berlin was the place where Hitler's empire ultimately meet its end, but it suffered mightily through the war as well not only was…


Book cover of Wall: The Inside Story of Divided Berlin

Brian Ladd Author Of The Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape

From my list on understanding 20th-century Berlin.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of cities and the ways people shape them. Living in Berlin, both before and after the Wall came down, made me aware of how the shared experiences and memories of particular places give meaning to civic life. (And for a historian it was thrilling to find a place where history was taken very seriously.) Although I have since written broader studies—of cars and cities (Autophobia) and of earlier street life (The Streets of Europe)–it was the experience of living in Berlin while learning its history that enabled me to see the layers of meaning embedded in buildings and streets.

Brian's book list on understanding 20th-century Berlin

Brian Ladd Why did Brian love this book?

This book is unjustly neglected because it was published just days before the Berlin Wall fell, an event the author, like the rest of us, failed to foresee. Wyden, a prolific writer who grew up Jewish in Hitler’s Berlin, uses his knowledge of the city to situate stories of highwire diplomacy and sensational escapes against a backdrop of ordinary lives marked by grim repression. 

By Peter Wyden,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Discusses the events surrounding the erection of the Berlin Wall, the Wall's devastating effect on those living near it, and its major impact on East-West relations


Book cover of Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia

Stephan Lewandowsky Author Of The Debunking Handbook 2020

From my list on the perils facing democracy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have had a lifelong interest in history and in particular the history of democracy. When I became a cognitive scientist, I initially studied basic memory processes using a mix of computer simulations and experimentation. I became interested in misinformation during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 when the purported “Weapons of Mass Destruction” never materialized but large segments of the American public continued to believe in their existence. Some 20 years later, misinformation has taken center stage in public life and has metastasized into a danger to democracy in many countries around the world. The books on this list should present a warning and inspiration to all of us.

Stephan's book list on the perils facing democracy

Stephan Lewandowsky Why did Stephan love this book?

This is a page-turner that I read in one go from front to finish. It reads like a thriller and keeps you hooked, although it is also a very serious analysis of contemporary Russia by one of the UK’s most skilled journalists and authors. It is as thrilling as it is frightening because there are so many signs that western countries are heading in a similar direction—a country that “is a dictatorship in the morning, a democracy at lunch, an oligarchy by suppertime, while, backstage, oil companies are expropriated, journalists killed, billions siphoned away”, as Peter put it in one of his memorable phrases.

By Peter Pomerantsev,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the new Russia, even dictatorship is a reality show. Professional killers with the souls of artists, would-be theater directors turned Kremlin puppet-masters, suicidal supermodels, Hell's Angels who hallucinate themselves as holy warriors, and oligarch revolutionaries: welcome to the glittering, surreal heart of twenty-first-century Russia. It is a world erupting with new money and new power, changing so fast it breaks all sense of reality, home to a form of dictatorship--far subtler than twentieth-century strains--that is rapidly rising to challenge the West. When British producer Peter Pomerantsev plunges into the booming Russian TV industry, he gains access to every nook…


Book cover of Stay True: A Memoir

Maddie Norris Author Of The Wet Wound: An Elegy in Essays

From my list on creative nonfiction books to gift your grieving friend.

Why am I passionate about this?

After my dad died, I didn’t know where to turn. People felt uncomfortable talking to a seventeen-year-old girl about her dead dad. They felt even more uncomfortable talking to me about it one, two, ten years later. Still, I couldn’t, can’t, stop thinking about it. I turned, then, to books. These books made and make me feel seen. They aren’t about “moving on” or “letting go” but the ways in which leaning into grief’s deep well connects us to love’s true depths. These books are honest and pure, and if you don’t know what to say to a friend who’s mourning, let these authors speak for you.

Maddie's book list on creative nonfiction books to gift your grieving friend

Maddie Norris Why did Maddie love this book?

Hua Hsu’s book also questions linear time. His memoir considers the folded nature of time, the way the past and the future are embedded in the present.

He walks us through the story of his college friendship with Ken, beginning with his own parents, carrying through Ken’s killing, and into the years after. A meticulous portrait of Hsu, Ken, and what they meant to each other, the book’s investigation of grief overturns the notion of narrative sense.

If there is no tidy linear narrative to the story, no rising action, falling action, or denouement, how, then, do we understand loss?

By Hua Hsu,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A gripping memoir on friendship, grief, the search for self, and the solace that can be found through art, by the New Yorker staff writer Hua Hsu

“This book is exquisite and excruciating and I will be thinking about it for years and years to come.” —Rachel Kushner, New York Times bestselling author of The Flamethrowers and The Mars Room

In the eyes of eighteen-year-old Hua Hsu, the problem with Ken—with his passion for Dave Matthews, Abercrombie & Fitch, and his fraternity—is that he is exactly like everyone else. Ken, whose…


Book cover of The American Monomyth

Barry Spector Author Of Madness at the Gates of the City: The Myth of American Innocence

From my list on American addiction to innocence.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a student of mythology and archetypal psychology, I invite you to interrogate your assumptions about self and society, to consider the narratives that we all take for granted. We live between great polar opposites. One is how our leaders embody old, toxic stories. The other asks who we might become if we imagine new ones. But only by dropping our sense of innocence and acknowledging the depths of our darkness can we open ourselves to the possibilities of real transformation. I invite you inside our mythic walls, to examine what it means to be an American. I hope to facilitate a collective initiation and invite you to think mythologically.

Barry's book list on American addiction to innocence

Barry Spector Why did Barry love this book?

My introduction to world mythology was Joseph Campbell, who described a nearly universal narrative – or monomyth – in which a young man (such as Christ, Percival, or the Buddha) ventures from his land, defeats opponents or temptations and returns with a critical gift for his people.

America, however, inverted this myth in profoundly important ways. In our story, repeated over three centuries in thousands of sermons, novels, movies, television, and video games, an innocent and racially pure community is threatened by evil (usually non-white).

When democratic institutions fail to suppress the threat, a selfless superhero arrives – from elsewhere – to defeat the villains and restore the community to harmony. Then, however, disdaining the feminine values of community and relationship, this hero disappears (often into the West).

I realized that he is the model for both our ideas of distant fathering as well as our unshakable belief in American…

By Robert Jewett, John Shelton Lawrence,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sociology


Book cover of Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media

Susan Bordo Author Of TV

From my list on popular culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in 1947, in the first wave of the baby boom, and was part of the first generation to grow up immersed in television, movies, and popular music. I have always felt the force of pop culture in my life.  But it was only at a certain point that it became something that I felt I could write about and be taken seriously. Writers like Pauline Kael made it possible for me because they obviously adored popular culture but they neither puffed it up nor dumbed it down. They wrote about it with intelligence, honesty, and curiosity and also as a barometer of where people were at and where society was going. That’s what I’ve aimed at in my own writing, from my books on the male and female body to those on politics and the media to my most recent exploration of the impact of television on our lives.

Susan's book list on popular culture

Susan Bordo Why did Susan love this book?

Where the Girls Are is about a particular generation of women growing up in post War America, and the impact popular media had on their lives, both for good and for bad. It weaves wonderfully smart, often funny, always engagingly written discussions of pop music, movies, and television shows with Douglas’s own experiences at the time. It’s unabashedly feminist—but it isn’t a speech or a political manifesto. It’s an exploration of the push-pull of growing up female at a transitional time, a time in which attitudes toward women were changing, unevenly, and how pop culture reflected the tensions of the times. This book is history, memoir, sociology, media studies, all at once – immensely informative and very entertaining.

By Susan J. Douglas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Where the Girls Are as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Media critic Douglas deconstructs the ambiguous messages sent to American women via TV programs, popular music, advertising, and nightly news reporting over the last 40 years, and fathoms their influence on her own life and the lives of her contemporaries. Photos.


Book cover of Selling Yoga: From Counterculture to Pop Culture

Julie Rappaport Author Of 365 Yoga: Daily Meditations

From my list on inspiring your yoga practice.

Why am I passionate about this?

A writer, yoga teacher, and somatic psychologist, I’ve been passionate about yoga and the sacred arts ever since I encountered, on my parent’s bookshelf, the awe-inspiring art catalogue, The Manifestations of Shiva, an exhibit curated by the late, great art historian Stella Kramrisch. An adjunct faculty member in the Somatics MA program at the California Institute of Integral Arts, I have lived and traveled extensively throughout India, studying yoga there, and teaching in the U.S. In Berkeley, I write fiction and maintain a private psychology practice, incorporating yoga as a tool for nervous system regulation and embodied wellbeing. I also lead local and international yoga retreats. 

Julie's book list on inspiring your yoga practice

Julie Rappaport Why did Julie love this book?

The sociologist, Andrea Jain, contextualizes the historical roots of yoga in this well-researched and readable book. For the yogi who has read everything, she provides a refreshing perspective. She addresses the yoga explosion in the West, linking spiritual consumer culture with late-stage capitalism without the typical moralizing, or nostalgia for a so-called golden age of yoga. She shows that yoga was never a fixed historical or essentialist enterprise, but rather, always changing and adapting to the culture that surrounded it. That culture, in turn, re-makes yoga over and over. While serious yogis can respect yoga’s roots, we’re also part of its innovation and evolution. This is a yoga history lesson worth reading, offering much to ponder. 

By Andrea Jain,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Premodern and early modern yoga comprise techniques with a wide range of aims, from turning inward in quest of the true self, to turning outward for divine union, to channeling bodily energy in pursuit of sexual pleasure. Early modern yoga also encompassed countercultural beliefs and practices. In contrast, today, modern yoga aims at the enhancement of the mind-body complex but does so according to contemporary dominant metaphysical, health, and fitness paradigms.
Consequently, yoga is now a part of popular culture. In Selling Yoga, Andrea R. Jain explores the popularization of yoga in the context of late-twentieth-century consumer culture. She departs…


Book cover of The Reception of Cleopatra in the Age of Mass Media

Prudence J. Jones Author Of Cleopatra: A Sourcebook

From my list on Cleopatra for non-academics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by Cleopatra ever since I learned that she used science to outwit one of Rome's most powerful men by inventing the world's most expensive cocktail (a pearl disintegrated in vinegar). As a professor of Classics at Montclair State University, I have the opportunity to study ancient historical and literary texts about Cleopatra, as well as monuments, inscriptions, and papyri. I use these primary sources in teaching an advanced ancient history course on Cleopatra to undergraduate students.

Prudence's book list on Cleopatra for non-academics

Prudence J. Jones Why did Prudence love this book?

There are many books about the reception of Cleopatra in high art like Shakespearean drama and Renaissance painting, but Daugherty's The Reception of Cleopatra in the Age of Mass Media is a delightful exploration of Cleopatra in popular creations such as video games, graphic novels, and television.

The incredible variety of material and engaging writing style makes this book a perfect introduction to reception studies and a must-read for pop culture aficionados.

By Gregory N. Daugherty,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Reception of Cleopatra in the Age of Mass Media as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This study examines the reception of Cleopatra from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day as it has been reflected in popular culture in the United States of America. Daugherty provides a broad overview of the influence of the Egyptian queen by looking at her presence in film, novels, comics, cartoons, TV shows, music, advertising and toys. The aim of the book is to show the different ways in which the figure of Cleopatra was able to reach a large and non-elite audience.

Furthermore, Daugherty makes a study of the reception of Cleopatra during her own lifetime.…


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