10 books like Never Mind the Balkans, Here's Romania

By Mike Ormsby,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Never Mind the Balkans, Here's Romania. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Along the Enchanted Way

By William Blacker,

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

A unique book. Read this and you'll find yourself in a disappearing world. Northern Romania eschewed the modern conveniences and less delicate touches of capitalism for most of the twentieth century. Blacker shares a life wholly dictated by the rhythms of nature. This is a world where the locals recognise someone visiting from another village at a distance, not by their face or their clothes, but by the horse they are riding.

Along the Enchanted Way

By William Blacker,

Why should I read it?

3 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…


The Kilt Behind the Curtain

By Ronald Mackay,

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

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.

The Kilt Behind the Curtain

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.


The Little Book of Romanian Wisdom

By Matthew Cross, Diana Doroftei,

Book cover of The Little Book of Romanian Wisdom

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.

The Little Book of Romanian Wisdom

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) •…


Dracula

By Bram Stoker,

Book cover of Dracula

I know what you’re thinking. Dracula isn’t unconventional. Well, at the time it was released, it was. Stoker did an excellent job of incorporating many genres into his vampire novel, including gothic horror and dark fantasy. Dracula is one of the reasons I write dark fantasy. The genre has changed so much over the years that if Dracula were released today, it would be unconventional once more, with Dracula being a true predator.

Dracula

By Bram Stoker,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Dracula as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

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…


In Search of Dracula

By Raymond T. McNally, Radu Florescu,

Book cover of In Search of Dracula: The History of Dracula and Vampires

This book has engendered controversy for almost forcefully bridging the gap between the 15th Century Wallachian Prince Vlad III or Vlad the Impaler or Dracula. Stoker had already constructed his character, called “Count Wampyr,” before he learned of his future namesake. However, he quite clearly establishes a connection between the two through an explanation provided by Abraham Van Helsing. The Dracula of the eponymous novel is a heavily fictionalized version of the real-life figure, but so are most similarly positioned characters in literature, film, and television. Florescu and McNally provide a cursory overview of Slavic and Balkan vampire folklore, a biographical sketch of Vlad the Impaler, and illuminate the process by which Stoker adapted this violent, cunning, and sometimes brilliant nationalist and military tactician into a fictional monster.

In Search of Dracula

By Raymond T. McNally, Radu Florescu,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked In Search of Dracula as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The true story behind the legend of Dracula - a biography of Prince Vlad of Transylvania, better known as Vlad the Impaler. This revised edition now includes entries from Bram Stoker's recently discovered diaries, the amazing tale of Nicolae Ceausescu's attempt to make Vlad a national hero, and an examination of recent adaptations in fiction, stage and screen.


Calus

By Gail Kligman,

Book cover of Calus: Symbolic Transformation in Romanian Ritual

Humans also draft dance to help heal body and mind. I loved Kligman’s personal ventures deep into the complex concerns about life and death, fertility and health, found in related pre-Christian rituals in three areas of the Balkans: the Căluşari in SW Romania, the Rusaltsi in NW Bulgaria, and the Kraljevi—often with other names—just west in former Yugoslavia. (The word Rusaltsi comes from Rusalka, a Slavic name for the “dancing goddess”, as does Rusalii, the thrice-yearly festival in their honor.)  Her intriguing study comes from direct observation of the healing rituals, and on personal discussions with the dancers—including one who was particularly vulnerable to trance!  This is also true of L. Danforth’s remarkable account of the firewalkers of SE Bulgaria and northern Greece (Firewalking and Religious Healing). 

Calus

By Gail Kligman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Classic ethnography of a rural Romanian village and ritual by the outstanding American scholar of Romania and Romanian culture.


Shadow of Swords

By Margot Lawrence,

Book cover of Shadow of Swords: A Biography of Elsie Inglis

When she died in 1917, Dr. Elsie Inglis was given a memorial service in Westminster, with columns of press tributes to one of Scotland’s first women doctors, and the leader of WWI frontline hospitals staffed entirely by women. ‘Go home and be still,’ the male doctors said when she suggested it, so she went to the women’s suffrage societies for funds. Her doctors, nurses, orderlies, and ambulance drivers chanted ‘Go home and be still’ gleefully to each other under fire and on retreats with the allied army in France, Serbia, Romania, and Russia. Somehow, whatever the difficulty, if Dr. Inglis said it had to be done, it was. An inspirational leader and a truly remarkable woman.

Shadow of Swords

By Margot Lawrence,

Why should I read it?

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


Night

By Elie Wiesel, Marion Wiesel (translator),

Book cover of Night

Night, is, of course, seminal Holocaust reading, and would top any list no matter what said list is titled. It is really that core to the curriculum, you could say. For me, it’s the Holocaust through the lens of a teenager facing loss. In a world where Gen Z, Y, and X are miscommunicating with each of their generational forebears, it is worth pausing to read this and empathize with the loss of family, and the loss and hollowing out of the self. “What is happening to me? What is happening here? What is this personal hell” rings throughout. It is well worth noting that the original manuscript was filled with rage, and accusations against the creator. You get hints of that as you’re reading, and it is enough to feel that as an undercurrent to what was edited into a memoir of contemplation, rather than anger, but the…

Night

By Elie Wiesel, Marion Wiesel (translator),

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Born into a Jewish ghetto in Hungary, as a child, Elie Wiesel was sent to the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald. This is his account of that atrocity: the ever-increasing horrors he endured, the loss of his family and his struggle to survive in a world that stripped him of humanity, dignity and faith. Describing in simple terms the tragic murder of a people from a survivor's perspective, Night is among the most personal, intimate and poignant of all accounts of the Holocaust. A compelling consideration of the darkest side of human nature and the enduring power of…


Finding True Freedom

By Ginny Dent Brant,

Book cover of Finding True Freedom: From the White House to the World

When I heard Ginny Dent Brant interviewed about her books, I couldn’t wait to purchase them for myself. Finding True Freedom recounts Ginny’s uncertain days of watching her father’s passion for politics. (Lots of well-documented info about his and others’ involvement in Watergate.) But Harry Dent experienced a conversion and left politics for the mission field of Romania. I wouldn’t normally read a book about politics; however, I highly recommend Finding True Freedom as it was a page-turner for me and taught me that true freedom is not the easiest to find, especially in highly charged Washington politics.

Finding True Freedom

By Ginny Dent Brant,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the 1960s Harry Dent entered political service for love of
country and liberty. Highly successful, Dent became known
as the “Southern Strategist” who helped Nixon win the
United States presidency.
When the Watergate scandal broke and Dent was accused,
his efforts at propagating American freedom seemed wasted.
But Dent was found to be “more of an innocent victim than
the perpetrator.” He could not deny God’s grace: Dent and
Henry Kissinger were the only two of Nixon’s staff not given
prison sentences.
In 1978 Harry Dent embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ
that his daughter Ginny had faithfully lived…


I Must Betray You

By Ruta Sepetys,

Book cover of I Must Betray You

My favorite setting—Romania in the days leading to and during the 1989 Revolution—shapes the story in this young adult novel. Sepetys draws fully-formed and believable characters. Regular people are confronted with the difficult choice as to whether to inform for the secret police or stand against the tide, ironically in a place where their freedom to choose or speak out has been crushed into non-existence. Sepetys shines her spotlight into a dark corner of recent history about which many know next to nothing.

I Must Betray You

By Ruta Sepetys,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Must Betray You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A #1 New York Times and National Bestseller!
 
A gut-wrenching, startling historical thriller about communist Romania and the citizen spy network that devastated a nation, from the #1 New York Times bestselling, award-winning author of Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray.

Romania, 1989. Communist regimes are crumbling across Europe. Seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu dreams of becoming a writer, but Romanians aren’t free to dream; they are bound by rules and force.
 
Amidst the tyrannical dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu in a country governed by isolation and fear, Cristian is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer. He’s…


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