The best books about Austria

8 authors have picked their favorite books about Austria and why they recommend each book.

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The Wall

By Marlen Haushofer,

Book cover of The Wall

This story has stayed with me for years. A woman takes a holiday in the Austrian mountains and wakes up to an inexplicable new reality—she’s totally alone in the world, so it seems, and has to learn to fend for herself. We journey into the unknown with her as she reports on the mental and physical challenges of her new daily life… and it stirs up so many interesting questions about who we are without connection and community, and where meaning can be found in the most stripped-back life.

The Wall

By Marlen Haushofer,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Wall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

I’m an Australian author and artist who is quite cautious and introverted by nature, but very curious and playful at heart. I make books that help people untangle what’s on their mind today and shift their thinking in creative ways, often using visual metaphors. My latest book, Guidebook to the Unknown, was created during the long lockdowns we had in Melbourne (and all over the world of course) during the pandemic. It was my way of exploring how to calm an anxious mind and find meaning in my daily life, right here and now, without knowing what tomorrow will bring.


I wrote...

Guidebook to the Unknown: A Journal for Anxious Minds

By Lisa Currie,

Book cover of Guidebook to the Unknown: A Journal for Anxious Minds

What is my book about?

Find fresh ways to move beyond fear and into curiosity, confidence, and hope in this supportive journal. This calming and comforting companion is filled with insightful prompts to help you honor your feelings, shift your perspective, and feel like yourself again.

Whether you’re new to the world of anxiety or a longtime traveler in the land of the unknown, this hand-drawn and heartfelt journal will prompt you to turn the page to a fresh start.

The Last Train To London

By Meg Waite Clayton,

Book cover of The Last Train To London

A remarkable novel about Truus Wijsmuller, a very brave woman in the Netherlands, resisting the Nazis by smuggling Jewish children out of Nazi Germany to the nations that will take them. A very moving and true story. The role of women in the resistance movement in the Netherlands has been neglected or underrepresented for way too long, so this story helps to shed light on the active resistance women carried out in WWII. This is exactly what my platform ‘Sophie’s Women of War’ sheds light on. 

The Last Train To London

By Meg Waite Clayton,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Last Train To London as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

National bestseller

A Historical Novels Review Editors' Choice

A Jewish Book Award Finalist

The New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Exiles conjures her best novel yet, a pre-World War II-era story with the emotional resonance of Orphan Train and All the Light We Cannot See, centering on the Kindertransports that carried thousands of children out of Nazi-occupied Europe-and one brave woman who helped them escape to safety.

In 1936, the Nazi are little more than loud, brutish bores to fifteen-year old Stephan Neuman, the son of a wealthy and influential Jewish family and budding playwright whose playground extends from…


Who am I?

I'm a Dutch author and lawyer specialized in international criminal law. My expertise is the role of women leaders in times of conflict, crisis, and change – especially during war and in post-conflict societies. Women are traditionally portrayed as victims, while it is precisely women who show genuine leadership skills in times of conflict, crisis, and change. I've done research on women’s armed resistance in the Netherlands in WWII, and am an expert on the lives and resistance work of Hannie Shaft and the sisters Truus and Freddie Oversteegen. In addition, I've done research in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and saw the same patterns in these conflicts and the impact on the generations after. 


I wrote...

Seducing and Killing Nazis: Hannie, Truus and Freddie: Dutch Resistance Heroines of WWII

By Sophie Poldermans,

Book cover of Seducing and Killing Nazis: Hannie, Truus and Freddie: Dutch Resistance Heroines of WWII

What is my book about?

This is the astonishing, true story of Hannie Schaft (19) and sisters Truus (16) and Freddie (14) Oversteegen who took up arms against the Nazis as one of the only women in the Netherlands during World War II. They seduced high-ranking Nazi officers, lured them into the woods, and killed them. In addition, they provided Jewish children with safe houses and gathered vital intelligence for the resistance. They did what they did “because it had to be done.” Above all, they tried to remain human in inhuman circumstances.

Hannie Schaft was executed by the Nazis three weeks before the end of the war and became the icon of female Dutch resistance. Truus and Freddie Oversteegen survived the war, but were forever haunted by the demons of their past.

Incompleteness

By Rebecca Goldstein,

Book cover of Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel

Gödel (1906-1978) is, like Newton, an unpromising subject for biography. He was antisocial and mentally unstable. His obsessive fear of being poisoned led eventually to him starving himself to death. 

Rebecca Goldstein is a professor of philosophy with a deep interest in logic and the foundations of mathematical truth – the applecart that Gödel overturned in 1931 with his tremendous paper on the incompleteness of axiomatic systems. She is also an experienced novelist. This combination makes her just the right person to construct a gripping story out of Gödel’s weirdness and world-shaking importance.

Incompleteness

By Rebecca Goldstein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Probing the life and work of Kurt Goedel, Incompleteness indelibly portrays the tortured genius whose vision rocked the stability of mathematical reasoning-and brought him to the edge of madness.


Who am I?

Bertrand Russell wrote that: “Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty – a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show.” I agree. Math is, however, a human thing, all tangled up with the nature of human personality and the history of our civilizations. Well-written biographies of great mathematicians put that “stern perfection” in a proper human context.


I wrote...

Unknown Quantity: A Real and Imaginary History of Algebra

By John Derbyshire,

Book cover of Unknown Quantity: A Real and Imaginary History of Algebra

What is my book about?

Writing Unknown Quantity was something of a challenge to myself, by myself. At the very end of the book I note that while math today at the highest levels is remarkably unified, there are still distinct styles of mathematical thinking. It was always the algebraic style that gave me the most trouble. Hoping to correct this, I took a deep dive into the history of algebra.

I am not sure that the effort made me a better algebraist; but I do think that coming to algebra from sort of the outside – I mean, from inside math and as a lifelong lover of math, but from outside the most purely algebraic style of thinking – I am well-equipped to see the history of the subject in true perspective.

Last Waltz in Vienna

By George Clare,

Book cover of Last Waltz in Vienna

A sensitive yet relentless story of his family’s failed assimilation that ends in its annihilation. Clare ends up in the UK, seeking meaning, in vain. His story so closely mirrors the real-life story of my own family, also Jewish refugees from Vienna who found refuge in the UK, that it sent a chill down my spine. Beautifully written and evocative. Clare concludes with Voltaire’s verdict: “History never repeats itself, man always does.”

Last Waltz in Vienna

By George Clare,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Last Waltz in Vienna as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On Saturday 26 February, 1938, seventeen-year-old Georg Klaar took his girlfriend Lisl to his first ball at the Konzerthaus. His family were proudly Austrian. They were also Jewish. Just two weeks later came the Anschluss. A family had been condemned to death by genocide.

This new edition of George Clare's incredibly affecting account of Nazi brutality towards the Jews includes a previously unpublished post-war letter from his Uncle to a friend who had escaped to Scotland. This moving epistle passes on the news of those who had survived and the many who had been arrested, deported, murdered or left to…


Who am I?

In my work as a news reporter and war correspondent, I met people on the worst day of their lives. I always wondered: What now? How will they get on with life? My own parents faced that dreadful dilemma. Penniless refugees, their families murdered in the Holocaust, unemployed in London, how on earth did they find the strength to carry on? One day at a time, they just did what they had to do. That is the subject of my fiction, always trying to answer that existential question: How do we live with trauma, and still find love and happiness?


I wrote...

Promised Land: A Novel of Israel

By Martin Fletcher,

Book cover of Promised Land: A Novel of Israel

What is my book about?

Promised Land begins when fourteen-year-old Peter is sent west to America to escape the growing horror of Nazi Germany. But his younger brother Arie and their entire family are sent east to the death camps. Only Arie survives.

The brothers reunite in the nascent Jewish state, where Arie becomes a businessman and one of the richest men in Israel while Peter becomes a top Mossad agent heading some of Israel’s most vital espionage operations. One brother builds Israel, the other protects it. But they also fall in love with the same woman, Tamara, a lonely Jewish refugee from Cairo. And over the next two decades, as their new homeland faces extraordinary obstacles that could destroy it, the brothers’ intrigues and jealousies threaten to tear their new lives apart.

Book cover of Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler: A True Love Story

I love taking elements from memoirs and spinning them into historical fiction. But some memoirs are better than novels, and this is one of them. Trudi recounts her life as a chic young hat designer in Vienna in 1938 who falls in love with Walter, a charming businessman. But Trudi and Walter are Jewish, and their love story rapidly becomes a desperate bid for survival, as the Nazis annexe Austria. Trudi is a wonderful writer, and her story is a gripping read of love, escape, and hope.

Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler

By Trudi Kanter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

I’m endlessly fascinated by the stories of young women from the WW2 era, who came of age at the moment the world was torn apart. As an author of wartime historical fiction with strong female characters, it’s vital for me to understand the experience of ordinary women who grew up in such extraordinary times, so I’m always on the hunt for real voices from the era. I’d love to think that in similar circumstances I’d face my challenges with the same humour, resourcefulness, bravery, and humanity as my favourite five female memoirists selected for you here.


I wrote...

The Escape

By Clare Harvey,

Book cover of The Escape

What is my book about?

Clare Harvey was inspired by a wartime memoir to write this dual timeline novel. Germany, 1945: Detta passes a group of exhausted British prisoners being force-marched through her village. But one of them catches her eye, and she cannot forget him. When she receives an urgent summons from the local priest, her life changes forever. Berlin, 1989: British photography student Miranda escapes a violent relationship by fleeing eastwards through the rubble of the recently demolished Berlin Wall. But her flight becomes a journey of self-discovery when she uncovers hidden connections to a German past.

Two women share a history and a dark secret: can they save each other now the time has come to reveal it?

Book cover of Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius

Wittgenstein is the key philosopher of how what we do and what we think combine to give us a view of the world and a set of things we take for granted – our ‘form of life’.  It is almost impossibly hard to read his book, Philosophical Investigations and, in any case, philosophers disagree about what it means.  But Monk entertainingly and interestingly explains his ideas through his biography: he makes Wittgenstein’s later philosophy readily comprehensible. 

Ludwig Wittgenstein

By Ray Monk,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Great philosophical biographies can be counted on one hand. Monk's life of Wittgenstein is such a one." The Christian Science Monitor.

Who am I?

The big question that was the basis of my career was ‘When someone says “hello” to you, how do you know you should say “hello” back?’ Ever since I heard that question as a young student, I have been trying to understand the answer. The question has taken me through philosophy, sociology, and the most exciting, detailed studies of scientific research. What more could one want in terms of an interesting life?  I hope that if you read Gravity’s Kiss, you’ll see that it is answering a philosophical question as well as a scientific question.


I wrote...

Gravity's Kiss: The Detection of Gravitational Waves

By Harry Collins,

Book cover of Gravity's Kiss: The Detection of Gravitational Waves

What is my book about?

This is a real-time account over the half-year it took to confirm the discovery of the first gravitational wave. It is the climax of my 45-year immersion in the field and follows my 3 previous books on the development of the field and its controversies. But I study the detailed workings of science as exemplars of the way we make our reality.

So, these studies of this remarkable process of discovery, with all its larger-than-life characters, heartbreaks, and events that are stranger than fiction, are set in the context of my Changing Order: Replication and Induction in Scientific Practice and The Golem: What You Should Know About Science, which cover a series of cases. My recommendations refer to this wider, more philosophical, perspective, from which it grew.

The Radetzky March

By Joseph Roth,

Book cover of The Radetzky March

Joseph Roth, an alcoholic, itinerant journalist who never had a proper home, was a friend of Stefan Zweig but enjoyed nothing like his success; yet I think this is one of the greatest neglected novels ever written. The last, collapsing days of the Austro–Hungarian empire are depicted through a family saga whose characters burn themselves onto one's mind. Claustrophobic, unremitting, reminiscent in some ways of Kafka at his best, for my money this knocks Zweig's Beware of Pity into a cocked hat! A depiction of a degenerate society at its last gasp surely also has strong parallels with the modern world.

The Radetzky March

By Joseph Roth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE RADETSKY MARCH is subtle and touching study of family life at the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Writing in the traditional form of the family saga, Roth nevertheless manages to bring to his story a completely individual manner which gives at the same time the detailed and intimate portrait of a life and the wider panorama of a failing dynasty. Not yet well known in English-speaking countries, Joseph Roth is one of the most distinguished Austrian writers of our century, worthy to be bracketed with Musil and Kraus.

Who am I?

I think Zoroastrianism got it right: there's a constant knife-edge balance between good and evil, with neither quite winning; but we shouldn't be overconfident that one day that balance will tip to the bad side because that is always more dominant. Art in all forms has served dictators and tyrants as well as criticised them; few works have ever actually changed anything. If they have, it's been through literature most of all. Zola's 'j'accuse' and Sinclair's 'the jungle' are two obvious examples, but all the books I have chosen are powerful tools for self–examination, and as someone who is particularly interested in man's inhumanity to man I have found them useful. 


I wrote...

The Journey Back from Hell

By Anton Gill,

Book cover of The Journey Back from Hell

What is my book about?

The Journey Back from Hell is the result of interviews with Jewish and gentile survivors, from all walks of life, of the Nazi concentration camps. It's the result of talking to people throughout Europe, Israel, the USA, and Canada, a journey I made between 1985 and 1988. The book is now a standard work in the area of Holocaust history. 

Book cover of The Hotel New Hampshire

In our teens and twenties, my brother and I bonded over the works of John Irving. It’s hard to name a favorite, but The Hotel New Hampshire is certainly right up there. Perhaps it’s Irving’s trademark humor and unconventional plotting, or the unnaturally close relationship between siblings John and Franny, or the memorable quotations sprinkled throughout (“Sorrow floats,” “Keep passing the open windows”), but Irving’s fifth novel will always have a special place in my heart.

The Hotel New Hampshire

By John Irving,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The first of my father's illusions was that bears could survive the life lived by human beings, and the second was that human beings could survive a life led in hotels.'

So says John Berry, son of a hapless dreamer, brother to a cadre of eccentric siblings, and chronicler of the lives lived, the loves experienced, the deaths met, and the myriad strange and wonderful times encountered by the family Berry. Hoteliers, pet-bear owners, friends of Freud (the animal trainer and vaudevillian, that is), and playthings of mad fate, they 'dream on' in this funny, sad, outrageous, and moving novel.


Who am I?

As Korean immigrants growing up in largely white suburbs, my siblings and I were keen observers of American life particularly the customs and affectations of the upper class. A tight-knit trio, we learned how to fit in to our adopted country by inhaling pop culture: television and movies, books and magazines, album covers and clothing catalogues. The one thing we valued above all else was humor. To this day, my favorite books are those that make me laugh, cry, and nod in delighted recognition—sometimes simultaneously.


I wrote...

A Good Family: A Novel

By A.H. Kim,

Book cover of A Good Family: A Novel

What is my book about?

A Good Family has been hailed as a “lively suspense diversion” (Maureen Corrigan, The Washington Post) and an “addictive, over-the-top dramedy that would make for a great TV series” (Publishers Weekly). Combining elements of black comedy and domestic noir, A Good Family is told from the alternating perspectives of Hannah Min, a Korean-American law librarian, and Beth Lindstrom, her glamorous sister-in-law who pleads guilty to a white-collar crime related to her work as a high-powered pharmaceutical executive. While in prison, Beth suspects someone in the family set her up and asks Hannah to help figure out who it was. My debut novel was inspired by my personal experience supporting my brother and nieces while my sister-in-law served time in Alderson Women’s Prison.

Paper Love

By Sarah Wildman,

Book cover of Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind

A poignant, well-written and deeply researched non-fiction story of the author’s search for the girlfriend her grandfather had left behind in Vienna. As my family left Vienna because of the Nazi regime, and my own novel takes place in Vienna, I found Ms. Wildman’s book especially meaningful, raising the question not only of what had happened to the woman but also of how much guilt and responsibility the grandfather carried?

Paper Love

By Sarah Wildman,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Paper Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

World War II has been the background of my life. My Viennese family fled the Nazi regime. My childhood was peopled with Holocaust survivors and other people displaced by war. My uncle was a refugee and was trained as a Ritchie Boy and sent to war. I have been inspired by how people can survive traumatic times and come out stronger and kinder.


I wrote...

All That Lingers

By Irene Wittig,

Book cover of All That Lingers

What is my book about?

A sweeping, powerful saga of love, friendship, loss, and betrayal that spans three decades of pre-war, wartime, and post World War 2 Vienna. Ultimately, it is the resilience of the human spirit that will linger in the reader’s mind long after the last page is turned.

The Fortress

By Alexander Watson,

Book cover of The Fortress: The Siege of Przemysl and the Making of Europe's Bloodlands

This book not only tells the fascinating story of the great siege in 1914-15 of the supposedly impregnable fortress of Przemyśl. It is a highly readable and often darkly humorous account, based on an extraordinary array of sources in several languages, paints a vivid picture of the political and military shambles into which the Austro-Hungarian Empire had fallen. With chilling precision, it also identifies the presence of many of the germs which would flourish into the horrors which visited the same area in the following decades.

The Fortress

By Alexander Watson,

Why should I read it?

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


Who am I?

Adam Zamoyski is a British historian of Polish origin. He is the author of over a dozen award winning books. His family originates in Poland. His parents left the country when it was invaded by Germany and Russia in 1939, and were stranded in exile when the Soviets took it over at the end of World War II. Drawn to it as much by the historical processes at work there as by family ties, Zamoyski began to visit Poland in the late 1960s. His interest in the subject is combined with a feel for its connections to the history and culture of other nations, and a deep understanding of the pan-European context.


I wrote...

Warsaw 1920: Lenin’s Failed Conquest of Europe

By Adam Zamoyski,

Book cover of Warsaw 1920: Lenin’s Failed Conquest of Europe

What is my book about?

Zamoyski documents the dramatic and little-known story of how, in the summer of 1920, Lenin came within a hair's breadth of shattering the painstakingly constructed Versailles peace settlement and spreading Bolshevism to Western Europe.

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