100 books like Mephisto

By Klaus Mann,

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

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

Henry Rozycki Author Of Walk the Earth as Brothers

From my list on novels that describe what war does to young men.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the child of Holocaust survivors who chose not to talk about it. The effects were clear and stark – my mother crying out with nightmares, my father doing everything in his power not to be noticed by authorities – but I was not allowed to know their sources. Though my lottery number was 76, I missed going to Vietnam by a year as the draft ended; I watched so many of my peers come back either damaged or at least profoundly changed. I never wish I experienced war in all its hellaciousness, but from early adolescence, I have wondered how I would have acted.

Henry's book list on novels that describe what war does to young men

Henry Rozycki Why did Henry love this book?

I have read virtually all of Le Carre’s books because I don’t believe anyone goes so deeply into the psyche of men who enlisted in the fight for perhaps noble reasons but who now continue on almost as automatons. They have not only lost their idealism, their morality and even humanity are either gone or hanging by a thread. It is what I imagine is the furthest edge of what can happen to young soldiers who don’t die—just keep soldiering.

I don’t think anyone has done it better.

By John le Carré,

Why should I read it?

15 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.

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.

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 Alone in Berlin

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?

Often overlooked by today's readers, this fine novel of 1940 Berlin by an author who never left Nazi Germany offers a realistic and touching portrayal of ordinary working citizens. A married couple whose life is upended by the loss of a soldier son encounters persistent Nazi propaganda discrediting their sacrifice. Inspired by actual historical figures, the protagonists courageously turn to modest acts of resistance, drawing the unrelenting focus of a Gestapo inspector determined to solve the case to further his career. Fallada's masterful storytelling and unforgettable characters will put you inside a righteous struggle to resist the oppressive state. This is a classic from an author who lived the place and time, and it shouldn't be missed

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…


Book cover of Berlin at War: Life and Death in Hitler's Capital, 1939-45

Alex Gerlis Author Of Agent in Berlin

From my list on to get a sense of Berlin under the Nazis.

Why am I passionate about this?

I worked as a journalist for the BBC for nearly thirty years: my writing of espionage novels set in Europe during the Second World War goes back to 1994 when I was covering the 50th anniversary of D-Day for the BBC. I became fascinated with the human stories behind big military events and especially the British deception operation that was so crucial to the Allies’ success. This led to my first novel, The Best of Our Spies. To ensure my novels feel as authentic as possible my research means I travel around Europe and I’ve also amassed a collection of maps and guidebooks from that period.

Alex's book list on to get a sense of Berlin under the Nazis

Alex Gerlis Why did Alex love this book?

This is another book that manages to paint a picture of what life was like in Berlin during the war.  Roger Moorhouse tells some fascinating stories, such as that of Paul Ogorzow, the so-called S-Bahn Murderer. The fact that a serial killer was operating around Berlin’s railway system was a dilemma for the authorities who tried and failed to lay the blame on either Jews or Poles. Ogorzow was eventually captured convicted of the murder of eight women and of attacking thirty-seven more during 1940 and 1941. The fact he was a Nazi Party member was a deep embarrassment and didn’t help him: he was executed just days after his conviction.

By Roger Moorhouse,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Berlin was the nerve-centre of Hitler's Germany - the backdrop for the most lavish ceremonies, it was also the venue for Albert Speer's plans to forge a new 'world metropolis' and the scene of the final climactic bid to defeat Nazism. Yet while our understanding of the Holocaust is well developed, we know little about everyday life in Nazi Germany.

In this vivid and important study Roger Moorhouse portrays the German experience of the Second World War, not through an examination of grand politics, but from the viewpoint of the capital's streets and homes.He gives a flavour of life in…


Book cover of Blood & Banquets: A Berlin Social Diary

Robert Teigrob Author Of Four Days in Hitler's Germany: MacKenzie King's Mission to Avert a Second World War

From my list on eyewitnesses to the rise of Adolf Hitler.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since 2011 I have taught a summer course at Freie Universität Berlin, and have grown fond of the city, including its admirable efforts to acknowledge and atone for its former status as the capital of the Nazi empire. I’ve seen pictures of Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King touring the city and interacting (cheerfully) with Reich officials, and a couple of years ago I made a point of retracing his steps to observe the vestiges (very little) of prewar Berlin. This compelled me to dig deeply into what motivated King to break bread with Nazis, and how the prime minister’s trip was viewed by Canadians and the world – at the time, and since.

Robert's book list on eyewitnesses to the rise of Adolf Hitler

Robert Teigrob Why did Robert love this book?

Fromm, too, was a journalist alarmed by the rise of Nazism and Germans’ increasing embrace of hatred and falsehood. She differs from Halton and Shirer in that she was 1) born in Germany, and thus had a deeper perspective on Nazism’s place in German history and culture, 2) a woman, and thus expected to report on “society” and fashion stories, although her interests and abilities soon drew her to politics, and 3) Jewish, and therefore subjected to the daily indignities, threats, and violence that in 1938 led her to flee a land her family had inhabited for five centuries. Fromm seemed to know everybody, including Nazi bigwigs, and was continually astounded by the degrees to which foreign visitors fell for blatant Nazi propaganda. Mackenzie King should have been listening.

By Bella Fromm,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Blood & Banquets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The diary, smuggled out of Nazi Germany, of a Jewish woman who wrote the social column for a major Berlin newspaper, and was able to observe the rise of the Nazis


Book cover of The Berlin Wall

Katja Hoyer Author Of Blood and Iron: The Rise and Fall of the German Empire; 1871-1918

From my list on German history that aren't about the Nazis.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in East Germany and experienced the disappearance of that country and the huge changes that followed as a child. My history teachers reflected this fracture in the narratives they constructed, switching between those they had grown up with and the new version they had been told to teach after 1990. It struck me how little resemblance the neat division of German history into chapters and timelines bears to people’s actual lives which often span one or even several of Germany’s radical fault lines. My fascination with my country’s fractured memory has never left me since. 

Katja's book list on German history that aren't about the Nazis

Katja Hoyer Why did Katja love this book?

As someone who was born in East Germany, I have experienced, studied, read, and heard a fair bit about the German Democratic Republic and the famous Wall that separated it from the West. As the fault line of the Cold War, it’s hard to overestimate the symbolic significance of this structure and it is therefore hardly surprising that so much has been written about it. Taylor’s book stood out to me because it is about people as well as politics. The many anecdotes that lace his book shed light on the personal stories behind this inanimate object as well as making it a great read.

By Frederick Taylor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The astonishing drama of Cold War nuclear poker that divided humanity - reissued with a new Postscript to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the wall.

During the night of 12-13 August 1961, a barbed-wire entanglement was hastily constructed through the heart of Berlin. It metamorphosed into a structure that would come to symbolise the insanity of the Cold War: the Berlin Wall. Frederick Taylor tells the story of the post-war political conflict that led to a divided Berlin and unleashed an East-West crisis, which lasted until the very people the Wall had been built to imprison breached…


Book cover of All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler

Gioia Diliberto Author Of Coco at the Ritz

From my list on the complicated choices facing women in war.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer of seven historically themed books, fiction and nonfiction, I’ve loved the intense, deep dive into World War I, World War II, the Civil War, and the Paris Commune that researching my books entailed. It’s been particularly fascinating to explore how women, whether on or near the front lines, or on the home front, negotiate life during war and how their behavior illuminates character. My protagonists are all women, and I’ve found that writing their lives offers a sharp opportunity to see the moral ambiguities of war. What’s more, their stories often transcend the personal to symbolize the spirit of a particular time and place at war.

Gioia's book list on the complicated choices facing women in war

Gioia Diliberto Why did Gioia love this book?

I greatly admire how this book subverts the traditional form of biography in a way that perfectly suits the subject.

Mildred Harnack, the author’s great-great-aunt, was an astoundingly brave young woman from Wisconsin who, starting in the early 1930s, had a central role in Berlin’s homegrown opposition to the Nazis and was eventually beheaded on orders from Hitler.

Drawing on diaries, letters, photographs, interviews, and declassified intelligence documents, Donner tells an extraordinarily intimate story that reads like a literary novel and has the pace of a thriller.

By Rebecca Donner,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SELECTED AS A BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK

Born and raised in America, Mildred Harnack was twenty-six when she enrolled in a PhD programme in Germany and witnessed the meteoric rise of the Nazi party. In 1932, she began holding secret meetings in her apartment - a small band of political activists that by 1940 had grown into the largest underground resistance group in Berlin.

She recruited Germans into the resistance, helped Jews escape, plotted acts of sabotage and collaborated in writing leaflets that denounced Hitler and called for revolution. When the first shots of the Second World…


Book cover of The Berlin Stories

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

From my list on capturing the spirit of Berlin.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

In Berlin Stories, the book that inspired the movie Cabaret, comprising two linked novellas by Christopher Isherwood loosely based on his first-hand experience as an expat in Berlin in the Twenties, the British novelist evokes the anything-goes atmosphere that reigned in the capital of the Weimar Republic immediately prior to the Nazi take-over. That free-wheeling, raucous spirit survived the Third Reich and still thrives in Berlin today.     

By Christopher Isherwood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First published in the 1930s, The Berlin Stories contains two astonishing related novels, The Last of Mr. Norris and Goodbye to Berlin, which are recognized today as classics of modern fiction. 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 is the period when Hitler was beginning his move to power. The Berlin Stories is inhabited by a wealth of characters: the unforgettable Sally Bowles, whose misadventures in the demimonde were popularized on the American stage and…


Book cover of Blood Brothers

Catherine Hokin Author Of The Secretary

From my list on stories set in Berlin.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated with the history-soaked city of Berlin where my novels are set since a school exchange trip as a teenager. It was the border that did it. Machine guns, dog runs, barbed wire, watchtowers. They were daunting. More striking still was our guide’s story about her sister who lived on the other side in the East. They were barely a mile apart but hadn’t seen each other in the twenty years since the Wall went up. I’ve been back many times since and have had a passion for German history from that day, particularly for the experiences of its people who have lived through such turbulent times.

Catherine's book list on stories set in Berlin

Catherine Hokin Why did Catherine love this book?

I stumbled on this novel when I was looking for something else (a common writers’ problem). It was written in 1932 and banned the next year by the Nazis and is set amongst the gangs of young men struggling to survive in a harsh and desperately impoverished Berlin. The descriptions of the hard side of the city are brilliantly drawn and the characters are so real you long for their lives to improve even when you know there is almost no hope of it. Haffner was a social worker who clearly knew Berlin’s streets well. To add to the poignancy of his writing, nothing is known about his fate beyond a summons before a Nazi tribunal in the late 1930s. After that, he disappears. I really hope his book doesn’t.

By Ernst Haffner, Michael Hofmann (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Blood Brothers is the only known novel by German social worker and journalist Ernst Haffner, of whom nearly all traces were lost during the course of the Second World War. Told in stark, unsparing detail, Haffner's story delves into the illicit underworld of Berlin on the eve of Hitler's rise to power, describing how these blood brothers move from one petty crime to the next, spending their nights in underground bars and makeshift hostels, struggling together to survive the harsh realities of gang life, and finding in one another the legitimacy denied them by society.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Berlin, Nazism, and Germany?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Berlin, Nazism, and Germany.

Berlin Explore 107 books about Berlin
Nazism Explore 213 books about Nazism
Germany Explore 478 books about Germany