10 books like Russian Disco

By Wladimir Kaminer,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Russian Disco. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Berlin Alexanderplatz

By Alfred Doblin,

Book cover of Berlin Alexanderplatz

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.  

Berlin Alexanderplatz

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…


Mephisto

By Klaus Mann,

Book cover of Mephisto

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.

Mephisto

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…


The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

By John Le Carré,

Book cover of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

John Le Carré is one of the reasons I became a spy thriller writer. Like Joseph Conrad who wrote great novels that happened to be set at sea, Le Carré writes literary novels set in the world of spies. Spare, authentic, intensely realistic, this book plunges you deep into the duplicitous world of spy tradecraft, reeling you in with a brilliant plot, spot-on characterizations and line after line of dialogue you’ll want to quote. The story depicts Alex Leamas, a burnt-out British agent who defects in a scheme to eliminate a powerful East German spymaster, but what it's really about are the choices we make—and the costs. This book made me realize that genre could be a tool and not a walled-in garden.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

By John Le Carré,

Why should I read it?

8 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…


Alone in Berlin

By Hans Fallada,

Book cover of Alone in Berlin

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

Alone in Berlin

By Hans Fallada,

Why should I read it?

6 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…


Reading Berlin 1900

By Peter Fritzsche,

Book cover of Reading Berlin 1900

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.

Reading Berlin 1900

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.


Rahel Varnhagen

By Hannah Arendt, Clara Winston (translator), Richard Winston (translator)

Book cover of Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of a Jewish Woman

This idiosyncratic biography of Rahel Levin Varnhagen, a 19th-century German-Jewish Berlin literary salon hostess may at first seem esoteric to the general reader. A prickly, contradictory character, Arendt’s portrayal of Rahel’s outsider status as a Jew in a largely hostile Christian society, her proto-feminist self-affirmation of her womanhood at a time when women were essentially groomed for marriage, and her paradoxical mix of intellectual self-assurance and crippling emotional insecurities make for a riveting read. You don’t have to be Jewish or a woman to appreciate the complexities of this prototypical Berliner.

Rahel Varnhagen

By Hannah Arendt, Clara Winston (translator), Richard Winston (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Born in 1771 as the daughter of a Jewish merchant, Rahel Varnhagen would come to host one of the most prominent salons of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Hannah Arendt discovered her writings some time in the mid-1920s, and soon began to re-imagine Rachel's inner life and write her biography. Arendt draws a lively and complex portrait of a woman during the period of the Napoleonic wars and the early emancipation of the Jews, a figure who met and corresponded with some of the most celebrated authors, artists, and politicians of her time. She documents Rahel's attempts to…


My German Question

By Peter Gay,

Book cover of My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin

Peter Gay was a child in Nazi Berlin in the 1930s. I read his book to see what life was like there while writing my third novel, much of which takes place in Nazi Berlin. Gay was an academic historian but this memoir is deeply personal, laced with self-deprecating humour. His assimilated life (he and his father were staunch atheists) was relatively unaffected by the regime until 1933 when he became a Jew overnight by law. The Nazis quickly stripped the Jews of all rights, culminating in the violent Kristallnacht in 1938. He and his parents managed to escape to the U.S. six months later. Many of his relatives were killed. The underlying question in the book: why didn’t his family—and by extension other Jewish families—leave right after 1933 when Nazi plans became clear?

My German Question

By Peter Gay,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked My German Question as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this poignant book, a renowned historian tells of his youth as an assimilated, anti-religious Jew in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1939-"the story," says Peter Gay, "of a poisoning and how I dealt with it." With his customary eloquence and analytic acumen, Gay describes his family, the life they led, and the reasons they did not emigrate sooner, and he explores his own ambivalent feelings-then and now-toward Germany and the Germans.
Gay relates that the early years of the Nazi regime were relatively benign for his family: as a schoolboy at the Goethe Gymnasium he experienced no ridicule or…


Berlin for Jews

By Leonard Barkan,

Book cover of Berlin for Jews: A Twenty-First-Century Companion

If you are Jewish and have ambivalent feelings about visiting Berlin, then this could be the book for you.  Leonard Barkan is a professor at Princeton where he teaches in the Department of Comparative Literature. A Jewish American, growing up in a secular New York family, his book is a personal reflection on traveling in the city. 

Berlin for Jews is part history and part travel guide.  Barkan shows how, in the early nineteenth century, Jews dominated the arts, sciences, and public life and the way in which, despite the horrors of the Nazi era, they left an indelible imprint on the Berlin of today.  The book, described as a “love letter” to the city, takes the reader through some of the most iconic locations of Jewish life and describes the long-lost elegant Jewish suburbs, salons, writers, artists, politicians, philanthropists, art collectors, and intellectuals. And throughout, Barkan muses on what…

Berlin for Jews

By Leonard Barkan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What is it like to travel to Berlin today, particularly as a Jew, and bring with you the baggage of history? And what happens when an American Jew, raised by a secular family, falls in love with Berlin not in spite of his being a Jew but because of it? The answer is Berlin for Jews. Part history and part travel companion, Leonard Barkan's personal love letter to the city shows how its long Jewish heritage, despite the atrocities of the Nazi era, has left an inspiring imprint on the vibrant metropolis of today. Barkan, voraciously curious and witty, offers…


The Good German

By Joseph Kanon,

Book cover of The Good German

This particular time and place fascinate me. The cold war is ramping up. Dirty deals abound while deviltry floats in the air or can be found around any corner. It was a crucial time in history and shaped much of what happens today throughout the world. And the story mixes intrigue and romance. Will the hero find his love plus uncover the plot? The suspense can’t be beaten.

The Good German

By Joseph Kanon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Jake Geismar cut his teeth as a foreign correspondent in pre-war Berlin. When he returns in 1945 to cover the Potsdam conference he finds the city unrecognisable - streets have vanished beneath the rubble, familiar landmarks truncated by high explosive. But amongst the ruins Berliners survive, including some he knew and, miraculously, his lost love, Lena. However, in the same way she refused to leave with him before the war, Lena won't join him now without finding her husband and Emil has disappeared from the safe care of the Americans who, turning a blind eye to his links with Hitler,…


Berlin at War

By Roger Moorhouse,

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

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.

Berlin at War

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…


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