The most recommended books about Lithuania

Who picked these books? Meet our 13 experts.

13 authors created a book list connected to Lithuania, and here are their favorite Lithuania books.
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Book cover of The One-In-A-Million Boy

Roisin Meaney Author Of Life Before Us

From my list on the messiness of life and love.

Who am I?

I’m Irish, writing since 2001. I’m fascinated by the impulses that propel us towards or away from another person, the ways we are hurt or charmed or offended or beguiled by another, and how we react to all of the above. I’m not married or in a relationship myself; somewhere along the way I realised that I’m happier alone, and I think it puts me in a good position to observe the behaviours of friends and family, and sometimes strangers (yes, I’m that person sitting nearby on the train or at the airport or in the cafe, tapping furiously into her laptop as you converse with your partner).

Roisin's book list on the messiness of life and love

Roisin Meaney Why did Roisin love this book?

I’m recommending this because it will break your heart, and everyone needs that experience now and again with a book. It tells the story of a unique and unlikely love that blossoms slowly between a 104-year-old woman (whom you will learn to adore) and a young boy scout who calls to her house to fulfill one of his tasks. There’s a tragic twist early on that introduces us to the boy’s parents, and there are some lovely subsequent turns in this most magical tale. It’s the first Monica Wood book that I read, but I must hunt her down and read more. 

By Monica Wood,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The One-In-A-Million Boy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

She may be 104 years old, but Ona Vitkus is on a mission and it's all because of THE ONE-IN-A-MILLION-BOY...

Monica Wood's unforgettable novel about a boy in a million and the 104-year-old woman who saves his family is not to be missed by readers who loved THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY, ELIZABETH IS MISSING or THE SHOCK OF THE FALL.

'A lovely, quirky novel about misfits across generations' Daily Mail

'A bittersweet story about finding friendship in the most unlikely of places' Good Housekeeping.

The story of your life never starts at the beginning. Don't they teach you…


Book cover of Words on Fire

J. Kasper Kramer Author Of The Story That Cannot Be Told

From my list on middle grade for starting a revolution.

Who am I?

I’m a part-time professor of English and a full-time admirer of history, fairy tales, and people who fight oppression. I’ve loved stories my whole life, and I believe that the right words can have the power to change the world. That’s certainly an important message in my debut novel, The Story That Cannot Be Told, which is set during the Romanian Revolution of 1989. I primarily write historical fiction for middle grade readers, in large part because I love researching history, but my work also often includes folklore, fairy tales, or the supernatural—and of course, there’s always an adventure on the horizon.

J. Kasper's book list on middle grade for starting a revolution

J. Kasper Kramer Why did J. Kasper love this book?

In late 1800s Lithuania, young Audra gets caught up in an underground network of book smugglers while fleeing from Russian Cossack soldiers and attempting to save her family. Many of Nielsen’s novels would fit well on this list, but I particularly adore the message in this book about the power of words and storytelling when fighting oppression. 

By Jennifer A. Nielsen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Words on Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Audra lives on a quiet farm in Lithuania, but she understands that danger is never far away. Her parents warn her to stay close to home and avoid the patrolling Russian Cossack soldiers. The Russians, who occupy Lithuania, insist that everyone there must become Russian-they have banned Lithuanian books, religion, culture, and even the language. When Cossacks arrive abruptly at their door, Audra's parents insist that she flee, taking with her an important package and instructions for where to deliver it. In hopes of rescuing her parents, she becomes caught up in a growing resistance movement, Lithuanians intent on preserving…


Book cover of The Nazi's Granddaughter: How I Discovered My Grandfather Was a War Criminal

Ettie Zilber Author Of A Holocaust Memoir of Love & Resilience: Mama's Survival from Lithuania to America

From my list on the Holocaust in Eastern Europe.

Who am I?

Born in a displaced persons camp in Germany after World War 2, Ettie immigrated with her parents to the USA. She grew up and was educated in New York City and Pennsylvania and immigrated to Israel after completing graduate school. After retiring from a career in international schools in 6 countries, she currently resides in Arizona with her husband. She is a Board member for the Phoenix Holocaust Association and devotes much time to giving presentations to youth and adults worldwide. 

Ettie's book list on the Holocaust in Eastern Europe

Ettie Zilber Why did Ettie love this book?

While the author and I came from different sides of the same fence, I found myself empathizing with her deathbed promise, her fears, her worries, her self-doubt, and her commitment to finding, and eventually exposing, the truth. Setting out to write what should have been a fairly ‘easy’ biographical tribute to her late grandfather – hailed as a Lithuanian hero- she discovered - and uncovered - details and documents which shattered her world and confirmed “the gossip.” She began to doubt the stories she was told as a child and the people who told them- both in her Lithuanian-American neighborhood and back in the old country. What a page-turner…what agony and pain…until she finally made her courageous decision. Bravo, Silvia.

I am passionate about the book because both my parents were survivors of the Lithuanian version of the Holocaust. There were very few survivors from Lithuania, and Foti’s book helps…

By Silvia Foti,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hero–or Nazi?

Silvia Foti was raised on reverent stories about her hero grandfather, a martyr for Lithuanian independence and an unblemished patriot. Jonas Noreika, remembered as “General Storm,” had resisted his country’s German and Soviet occupiers in World War II, surviving two years in a Nazi concentration camp only to be executed in 1947 by the KGB. His granddaughter, growing up in Chicago, was treated like royalty in her tightly knit Lithuanian community.

But in 2000, when Silvia traveled to Lithuania for a ceremony honoring her grandfather, she heard a very different story—a “rumor” that her grandfather had been a…


Book cover of Lithuania Ascending: A Pagan Empire Within East-Central Europe, 1295-1345

William L. Urban Author Of Teutonic Knights: A Military History

From my list on medieval Baltic history.

Who am I?

I became enthusiastic about the history of the Baltics when my dissertation advisor persuaded me to use my language training in German and Russian to test the American Frontier Theory in the Baltic region. None of the various theories were applicable, but I earned a Ph.D. anyway. Later I taught in Italy, Yugoslavia, Estonia, and the Czech Republic. I've written a number of books and won a Fulbright Hays grant, the Dr. Arthur Puksow Foundation prize, the Vitols Prize, and others. I retired in 2017 after fifty-one years of university and college teaching, but I would still be teaching if my hearing had not deteriorated to the point that I could not make out what shy students were saying. 

William's book list on medieval Baltic history

William L. Urban Why did William love this book?

This is a look at the evolving Lithuanian state at a key moment in its efforts to fight off western crusaders, expand to the east against Russians and south against Mongols, and accommodate its society and religious practices to its allies and subject peoples.

This was the era when the modern states of Belarus and Ukraine were forming under Lithuanian rule or protection. The cities of those regions, as well as the princes, were all Orthodox Christians, but they preferred being governed by tolerant pagans who lived among them than being heavily taxed by Muslim nomads who despised them.

In the decades to follow, Lithuanians would be deeply influenced by Polish culture and religious thought, so the conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1387 came as no surprise.

By S. C. Rowell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From 1250 to 1795 Lithuania covered a vast area of eastern and central Europe. Until 1387 the country was pagan. How this huge state came to expand, defend itself against western European crusaders and play a conspicuous part in European life are the main subjects of this book. Chapters are devoted to the types of sources used, to the religion of the ancient Balts (and the discovery of a pagan temple in Vilnius in the late 1980s), and to Lithuanian relations and wars with Poland and the Germans. Under Grand Duke Gediminas, Lithuania came to control more of Russia than…


Book cover of Our People: Discovering Lithuania's Hidden Holocaust

Ettie Zilber Author Of A Holocaust Memoir of Love & Resilience: Mama's Survival from Lithuania to America

From my list on the Holocaust in Eastern Europe.

Who am I?

Born in a displaced persons camp in Germany after World War 2, Ettie immigrated with her parents to the USA. She grew up and was educated in New York City and Pennsylvania and immigrated to Israel after completing graduate school. After retiring from a career in international schools in 6 countries, she currently resides in Arizona with her husband. She is a Board member for the Phoenix Holocaust Association and devotes much time to giving presentations to youth and adults worldwide. 

Ettie's book list on the Holocaust in Eastern Europe

Ettie Zilber Why did Ettie love this book?

The partnership of these two authors, one, a Lithuanian national and prominent figure and the other, a Jewish/Israeli Nazi hunter, even surprised them both. While they come from the polar opposite ends of the cultural spectrum, their ultimate research collaboration offers the reader a view into the reason why 96% of Lithuanian Jews were murdered during – and after – the Holocaust – many, before the Nazis fully occupied the country. Travelling together throughout Lithuania, they interviewed non-Jewish eyewitnesses, who told them (on the record) what they saw and what they remembered of those horrible days when the Jews were murdered …by bullets… and who collaborated, assisted, and who pulled the trigger. 

I am passionate about the book because both my parents were survivors of the Lithuanian version of the Holocaust. There were very few survivors from Lithuania, and the Vanagaite-Zuroff book helps me understand why. I started learning about…

By Efraim Zuroff, Rūta Vanagaite,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This remarkable book traces the quest for the truth about the Holocaust in Lithuania by two ostensible enemies: Ruta a descendant of the perpetrators, Efraim a descendant of the victims. Ruta Vanagaite, a best-selling Lithuanian writer, was motivated by her recent discoveries that some of her relatives had played a role in the mass murder of Jews and that Lithuanian officials had tried to hide the complicity of local collaborators. Efraim Zuroff, a noted Israeli Nazi-hunter, had both professional and personal motivations. He had worked for years to bring Lithuanian war criminals to justice and to compel local authorities to…


Book cover of The Making of the Polish-Lithuanian Union 1385-1569: Volume I

Richard Butterwick-Pawlikowski Author Of The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 1733-1795: Light and Flame

From my list on Central and Eastern European history.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by Central and Eastern Europe all of my adult life. Many cruises along the Danube and around the Baltic Sea have allowed me to see the stunning best of the region. Since the early 1990s, I’ve taught the history of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Habsburg Monarchy, and the Russian Empire to a generation of students. Professor of Polish-Lithuanian History at University College London since 2013, my next challenge is to promote the history of Poland to allcomers via the Polish History Museum in Warsaw, the wonderful city which is my home.

Richard's book list on Central and Eastern European history

Richard Butterwick-Pawlikowski Why did Richard love this book?

The first volume of Robert Frost’s trilogy is a superbly researched account and explanation of how two very different realmsthe Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuaniacame together to forge a shared Commonwealth that covered most of east-central Europe. While it supports republican ideas of liberty serving the common good, it steers an impartial course between rival nationalist narratives and offers important lessons for the making and maintenance of unions between states and communities.

By Robert I. Frost,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Making of the Polish-Lithuanian Union 1385-1569 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The history of eastern European is dominated by the story of the rise of the Russian empire, yet Russia only emerged as a major power after 1700. For 300 years the greatest power in Eastern Europe was the union between the kingdom of Poland and the grand duchy of Lithuania, one of the longest-lasting political unions in European history. Yet because it ended in the late-eighteenth century in what are misleadingly termed the Partitions of Poland, it barely features in
standard accounts of European history.

The Making of the Polish-Lithuanian Union 1385-1569 tells the story of the formation of a…


Book cover of Between Shades of Gray

Lyn Miller-Lachmann Author Of Torch

From my list on for tweens and teens on Russian/Soviet aggression.

Who am I?

I’m the author of multiple middle grade and YA historical novels, including Torch, which won the 2023 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature. Torch takes place in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and it is especially timely in the face of the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Bear (a popular symbol of the Russian Empire) has mauled many of its neighbors in the past century, not only Czechoslovakia and Ukraine but also the Baltic countries that, like Ukraine, were incorporated into the Soviet Union and the other Eastern European countries that were part of the Soviet bloc until the fall of Communism in 1989. 

Lyn's book list on for tweens and teens on Russian/Soviet aggression

Lyn Miller-Lachmann Why did Lyn love this book?

This bestselling novel depicts the little-known Soviet invasion of Lithuania in 1940 and the deportation of more than 100,000 ethnic Lithuanians to Siberia through the eyes of 15-year-old Lina and her family.

The Lithuanian-American author was inspired by her relatives’ experiences. Like Ukraine, Lithuania regained its independence after the end of Communism and the breakup of the Soviet Union, but Russia continues to threaten the small nation.

By Ruta Sepetys,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Between Shades of Gray 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?

The haunting and powerful Second World War novel by Ruta Sepetys that inspired the feature film, ASHES IN THE SNOW, OUT NOW.

One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away. They are being deported to Siberia.

An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun. Lina doesn't know if she'll ever see her father or her friends again. But she refuses to give up hope.

Lina hopes for her family.
For her country.
For her future.
For love - first love, with the boy she barely…


Book cover of Leave Your Tears in Moscow

Ursula Wong Author Of Amber Wolf

From my list on WWII and Eastern Europe (that you may not know about).

Who am I?

I’m a Lithuanian-American with a Chinese name, thanks to my husband. Thirty years ago, I found papers among my uncle’s possessions telling a WWII story about our ancestral Lithuania. I had heard about it in broad terms, but I could hardly believe what I was reading. I spent years validating the material. The result was Amber Wolf, a historical novel about a war within the war: the fight against the Russian occupation of Eastern Europe. While many countries were involved in separate struggles, I focused on Lithuania and their David and Goliath fight against the Russian army. After all this time, the story still moves me.

Ursula's book list on WWII and Eastern Europe (that you may not know about)

Ursula Wong Why did Ursula love this book?

This touching memoir by Barbara Armonas tells the story of her choice to stay in Lithuania during WWII for the sake of her infant son.

It speaks to the toll Mrs. Armonas paid for that decision, including what it took to raise her son in a labor camp. It also looks at the rest of her family who had fled to the US and their efforts to bring her home. Despite the difficulties and trauma, the story ends with an uplifting message of hope and joy for the future.

At its best, this is a tale of love, persistence, perseverance, and forgiveness.

By Barbara Armonas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Leave Your Tears in Moscow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Barbara Armonas' 20-year ordeal in the soviet concentration camp system-the dreaded GULAG-is a rare and straightforward story, related with candor and underlying hope that the human spirit can survive any hardship-even the clamps of a vicious totalitarian system. This 50th Anniversary Edition commemorates Barbara's unbreakable spirit, memorializes her extraordinary life-she died three days short of her 100th birthday-and harkens us to actively nurture our freedom-because there still exist forces that challenge it every day. Her account is particularly relevant today as more and more documents of the Stalinist years and the Soviet Union in general become available for public view…


Book cover of The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1999

Richard Butterwick-Pawlikowski Author Of The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 1733-1795: Light and Flame

From my list on Central and Eastern European history.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by Central and Eastern Europe all of my adult life. Many cruises along the Danube and around the Baltic Sea have allowed me to see the stunning best of the region. Since the early 1990s, I’ve taught the history of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Habsburg Monarchy, and the Russian Empire to a generation of students. Professor of Polish-Lithuanian History at University College London since 2013, my next challenge is to promote the history of Poland to allcomers via the Polish History Museum in Warsaw, the wonderful city which is my home.

Richard's book list on Central and Eastern European history

Richard Butterwick-Pawlikowski Why did Richard love this book?

This modern classic is still a must-read for my students nearly twenty years after its first publication. Nothing else comes close to its sweep over time and space as it explains how the legacies of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth continue to shape the relations between its successor nations and their founding narratives. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the protests in Belarus have made this well-written book even more essential to understanding the region.

By Timothy Snyder,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of On Tyranny comes a revealing history of the four modern national ideas that arose from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

"[A] fresh and stimulating look at the path to nationhood."-Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs

"Erudite and engrossing."-Charles King, Times Literary Supplement

Modern nationalism in northeastern Europe has often led to violence and then reconciliation between nations with bloody pasts. In this fascinating book, Timothy Snyder traces the emergence of Polish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, and Belarusian nationhood over four centuries, discusses various atrocities (including the first account of the massive Ukrainian-Polish ethnic cleansings of the 1940s), and examines Poland's recent…


Book cover of A Guest at the Shooters' Banquet: My Grandfather's SS Past, My Jewish Family, a Search for the Truth

Ettie Zilber Author Of A Holocaust Memoir of Love & Resilience: Mama's Survival from Lithuania to America

From my list on the Holocaust in Eastern Europe.

Who am I?

Born in a displaced persons camp in Germany after World War 2, Ettie immigrated with her parents to the USA. She grew up and was educated in New York City and Pennsylvania and immigrated to Israel after completing graduate school. After retiring from a career in international schools in 6 countries, she currently resides in Arizona with her husband. She is a Board member for the Phoenix Holocaust Association and devotes much time to giving presentations to youth and adults worldwide. 

Ettie's book list on the Holocaust in Eastern Europe

Ettie Zilber Why did Ettie love this book?

The author, a daughter of an uncommon ‘mixed marriage’ between a Lithuanian-Jewish Holocaust survivor and a Lithuanian-Christian immigrant family. Both sides of her families were kept separate, except for rare special occasions. As a child, she was told wonderful stories about how her Lithuanian grandfather helped save Jews. As an adult and as an historian, she began to investigate the true activities of her grandfather, during those dark days in Lithuania. Like, Silvia Foti, she was emotionally fractured when she learned the truth. 

There were very few Jewish survivors from Lithuania, and Gabis’ book helps me understand why.

By Rita Gabis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Guest at the Shooters' Banquet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In prose as beautiful as it is powerful, Rita Gabis follows the trail of her grandfather’s collaboration with the Nazis--a trail riddled with secrets, slaughter, mystery, and discovery.

Rita Gabis comes from a family of Eastern European Jews and Lithuanian Catholics. She was close to her Catholic grandfather as a child and knew one version of his past: prior to immigration he had fought the Russians, whose brutal occupation of Lithuania destroyed thousands of lives before Hitler’s army swept in.

Five years ago, Gabis discovered an unthinkable dimension to her family story: from 1941 to 1943, her grandfather had been…