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

By Mike Ormsby,

Here are 100 books that Never Mind the Balkans, Here's Romania fans have personally recommended if you like Never Mind the Balkans, Here's Romania. 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 Along the Enchanted Way: A Story of Love and Life in Romania

Tristan Gooley Author Of The Lost Art of Reading Nature's Signs: Use Outdoor Clues to Find Your Way, Predict the Weather, Locate Water, Track Animals--And Other Forgotten Skil

From my list on for intelligent travellers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author and natural navigator. I set up my natural navigation school in 2008 and am the author of award-winning and internationally bestselling books, including The Natural Navigator (2010) The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs (2014), How to Read Water (2016), and The Secret World of Weather (2021), some of the world’s only books covering natural navigation. I have spent decades hunting for clues and signs in nature, across the globe, which may be why I am sometimes nicknamed: “The Sherlock Holmes of Nature”.

Tristan's book list on for intelligent travellers

Tristan Gooley Why did Tristan love this book?

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.

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 Author Of Dogs n Dracula

From my list on 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.

Jacqueline's book list on Romania and her people

Jacqueline Lambert Why did Jacqueline 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 The Little Book of Romanian Wisdom

Jacqueline Lambert Author Of Dogs n Dracula

From my list on 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.

Jacqueline's book list on Romania and her people

Jacqueline Lambert Why did Jacqueline 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

Amanda Desiree Author Of Smithy

From my list on creepy epistolary horror novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always admired epistolary novels—stories told in the form of diaries, letters, or other mass media. They seem so real and so much more believable than plain narratives. When dealing with fantastic subjects, like paranormal phenomena, any technique that can draw the weird back into the real world helps me become more invested as a reader. It’s a quality I’ve also tried to capture as a horror writer. Moreover, the epistolary format pairs well with unreliable narrators, often filtering stories so as to make them more ambiguous and disturbing. From the many epistolary works I’ve read over the years, here are my picks for the most compelling—and creepy.

Amanda's book list on creepy epistolary horror novels

Amanda Desiree Why did Amanda love this book?

Older than the rest and still one of the best, Dracula was my introduction to the epistolary format. My eleven-year-old self was pleasantly surprised when the diaries and letters never gave way to straight narration. Reading the book gave me the chance to see how much detail was left out of the various movie adaptations.

After a slow start with Harker’s travelogue, the book unleashed some gruesome and haunting imagery. I thought Renfield’s scenes were especially chilling. I can’t wait to check out the complete, uncut version of the novel, released in Sweden as Powers of Darkness, to see what other creepiness Stoker originally planned for his readers.

By Bram Stoker,

Why should I read it?

21 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…


Book cover of The Last Hundred Days

Vesna Goldsworthy Author Of Iron Curtain: A Love Story

From my list on English women and men in Eastern Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I moved to Britain from Belgrade, then the capital of Yugoslavia, in 1986. Still in my early twenties, I was a published poet in Serbian, but I didn’t dream I would eventually become a novelist in English. I devoured any English book that dealt with East-West encounters. I must have read several hundred as I researched my first book, Inventing Ruritania, a cultural study of the “Wild East”. I returned to them when I wrote Iron Curtain, a novel about a “Red Princess” from an unnamed East European country who marries an impecunious English poet. I sometimes thought of it as Ruritania writes back.

Vesna's book list on English women and men in Eastern Europe

Vesna Goldsworthy Why did Vesna love this book?

This is another story of a hapless, now unnamed, English academic in Eastern Europe, yet McGuinness’s Romanian novel couldn’t be more different from Bradbury’s Rates of Exchange, and not only for being tied to a very specific moment and place: Bucharest in the final months of 1989.

It captures the darkness and the deprivations of Ceaușescu’s regime just before its fall. It is a Cold War novel written by a poet and this shows in the richness of its melancholy and sinister atmosphere.

By Patrick McGuinness,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Once the gleaming "Paris of the East," Bucharest in 1989 is a world of corruption and paranoia, in thrall to the repressive regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. Old landmarks are falling to demolition crews, grocery shelves are empty, and informants are everywhere. Into this state of crisis, a young British man arrives to take a university post he never interviewed for. He is taken under the wing of Leo O'Heix, a colleague and master of the black market, and falls for the sleek Celia, daughter of a party apparatchik. Yet he soon learns that in this society, friendships are compromised, and…


Book cover of Fortunes of War: The Balkan Trilogy

Debbie Rix Author Of The German Mother

From my list on WW2 books that will inform and inspire.

Why am I passionate about this?

My parents both fought in the Second World War – my father as a bomber pilot, my mother as a Wren.  Dad often entertained us at family mealtimes with tales of his wartime adventures – of how was shot down over Germany, captured, imprisoned, but finally escaped. My interest in the period grew from there, and my first ‘wartime’ novel The Secret Letter was in fact largely based on my parents experiences.  Since then, I have become increasingly fascinated by the period, with now a total of four novels set in WW2, culminating in my present book The German Mother.

Debbie's book list on WW2 books that will inform and inspire

Debbie Rix Why did Debbie love this book?

A set of six novels that follow the fortunes of Harriet and Guy Pringle, set during the chaos of World War Two in Europe.

Guy teaches English at the University of Bucharest, and the novel opens with him bringing his new wife to join him in Romania. Manning combines an intimate story of the couple’s relationship with an epic tale of war-torn Europe and the Middle East. Her descriptions of places are brilliantly done; her dialogue is perfect, and she effortlessly portrays significant moments in history. 

I learned so much when I read it, and yet never felt I was being ‘taught’; in other words it’s the gold standard of historical fiction.

By Olivia Manning,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Set under the gathering storm that is the Second World War in Romania, The Great Fortune is the first action-packed, romantic and fascinating book of The Balkan Trilogy.

Guy and Harriet Pringle marry after a six month courtship. Still getting to know each other, they arrive in Bucharest, where Guy is employed in the English Department of the University of Bucharest.

Over the following years Guy builds an eclectic network of friends and acquaintances. These charismatic contacts include his work colleague Clarence, his boss Lord Inchcape, the eccentric Prince Yakimov and Sophie, a local Romanian beauty. Harriet appears tough, but…


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

Kurt Amacker Author Of Bloody October

From my list on making you a true vampire scholar.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a comic book writer, novelist, and vampire aficionado. I always want to learn the truth of a matter. I’ve moved in and out of the gothic subculture for years and spent time with members of the vampire subculture. I’ve found that most people’s understanding of vampires (and really, everything) is influenced by fiction. Even if you point out that their beliefs are only as accurate as a movie, they will still argue for them. As much as I love a good vampire movie, I want to shatter illusions and explore the myths and folklore that reflect our human experience in all of its horror and glory.

Kurt's book list on making you a true vampire scholar

Kurt Amacker Why did Kurt love this book?

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.

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.


Book cover of Calus: Symbolic Transformation in Romanian Ritual

Elizabeth Wayland Barber Author Of The Dancing Goddesses: Folklore, Archaeology, and the Origins of European Dance

From my list on European dance in female fertility and health.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an information junkie who loves to dance. I fell in love with folk dancing at age 6, European archaeology at 11, linguistics and cognition at 21—and could never drop any of them. My scientist-father always said, “Follow the problem, not the discipline,” and I began to see how these fields could help answer each other’s questions. Words can survive for millennia—with information about what archaeologists don’t find, like oh-so-perishable cloth. Determining how to reconstruct prehistoric textiles (Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years) then led me to trace the origins of various European folk costumes, and finally even to reconstruct something about the origins of the dances themselves.

Elizabeth's book list on European dance in female fertility and health

Elizabeth Wayland Barber Why did Elizabeth love this book?

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). 

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.


Book cover of I Must Betray You

Kerry Chaput Author Of Chasing Eleanor

From my list on taking you on an adventure with a found family.

Why am I passionate about this?

Found family changed my life, allowing me to find acceptance for the real, messy, complicated me. I believe everyone should have that experience. I’ve struggled with anxiety and panic disorder for my entire life, something that was never understood by my family growing up. As I worked to understand my own mental health struggles, it was the people who came into my life with love and compassion who helped me accept that I was never broken. I want every reader to feel that when they read one of my books. Chasing Eleanor was inspired by all five of these book recommendations, with adventure and found family at its heart.

Kerry's book list on taking you on an adventure with a found family

Kerry Chaput Why did Kerry love this book?

Sepetys never disappoints, but I Must Betray You grabbed hold of me and didn’t let go. I read this book in twenty-four hours.

Sepetys has a way of character development that never underestimates her readers. This story is raw and haunting, with a hard punch of constant action. I Must Betray You takes us behind the Iron Curtain to 1989 Communist Romania, where high schooler Cristian must become an informer to save his family. What unfolds is a story of bravery, sacrifice, and love.

By Ruta Sepetys,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked I Must Betray You 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?

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…


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

Judy Sheer Watters Author Of The Road Home

From my list on memorable memoirs that speak to you.

Why am I passionate about this?

As bedtime stories, I told our children my personal stories of life on a Pennsylvania farm with a city-slicker father who yearned to be a successful farmer. Growing up in a Jewish orphanage in the early 1900s, he dreamed of someday owning a farm and breathing the fresh air of the country. So many funny stories from the farm encouraged our children to say “Tell me a story when you were little, Mommy,” every night. I decided to write these down and they became my first memoir The Road Home. I love memoir and through my YouTube channel, I encourage others to “Write Your Story for Your Generations to Come.”

Judy's book list on memorable memoirs that speak to you

Judy Sheer Watters Why did Judy love this book?

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.

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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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