The best books about Switzerland

5 authors have picked their favorite books about Switzerland and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Memories, Dreams, Reflections

By Aniela Jaffe, Richard Winston, Clara Winston, C.G. Jung

Book cover of Memories, Dreams, Reflections

C. J. Jung stood large on the world scene. Freud, much his senior and a household name when they met, was at first a father figure, Freud thought of Jung as natural heir to his psychoanalytic method, Jung’s ultimate rejection of its central tenets led in the end to their break.

Jung’s analysis was sought by distinguished people all over the world. During W. W. II the CIA had him develop a psychological profile of Hitler.

Jung’s Collected Works consists of 19 volumes. A less daunting way to get acquainted with him is through the famous MDR, (Memories, Dreams, Reflections) dictated late in life. The book focuses entirely on Jung’s interior life—his thoughts, his influences, his visions, and Ideations. It was in these that Jung saw his life’s meaning.


Who am I?

A certain idea kept cropping up in my reading, triggered perhaps by Richard Dawkins's conception in The Selfish Gene, of the “meme.” It seemed that the meme had a life of its own. Then I came across Richerson’s and Boyd’s Not by Genes Alone, and they laid it out: cultures evolve. And they evolve independently of the genes—free of genetic constraints in an idea or thought to contribute to its own survival. That is up to the multitude of people who happen to come across it. I now have a new book readying for publication: How Cognition, Language, Myth, and Culture Came Together To Make Us What We Are.


I wrote...

Carl Jung, Darwin of the Mind

By Thomas T. Lawson,

Book cover of Carl Jung, Darwin of the Mind

What is my book about?

Carl Jung, Darwin of the Mind is a review and an explanation of Jung's thought set in an evolutionary context. Jung explored the human psyche throughout his long life. His writings, of astonishing scope and depth, elaborate on imagery that can be found in rituals, myths, and fables worldwide as well as in the dreams, visions, and fantasies of his patients and himself. Jung pursued common threads of meaning to the point of becoming deeply versed in the esoterica of Eastern mysticism, Gnosticism, and alchemy. Taken collectively, Jung's works develop a coherent theory about how the psyche is constructed. The author demonstrates that Jung's concept of a collective unconscious structured by archetypes meshes well with accepted views of evolution and can be squared with the most rigorous science of today. 

Hotel Du Lac

By Anita Brookner,

Book cover of Hotel Du Lac

Yes, another novel set largely in a hotel. This time it’s in Switzerland and overlooks Lake Geneva, spreading, in the wonderful words of Anita Brookner, "like an anaesthetic towards the invisible further shore." Edith Hope is a writer of romantic fiction. She arrives at the "stolid and dignified" Hotel du Lac in late autumn. This is not a holiday for Edith. Her friends and family have insisted she go away for a few weeks to ponder a ‘social indiscretion’. She was due to marry Geoffrey, a boring man she didn’t love, and deserted him on the day of the wedding. Her heart had gone out to David, a married man.

Brookner had an enviable gift for describing people and their peculiarities. Those whom Edith Hope meets at the hotel are largely from the aristocracy, and each and every one is eccentric in the extreme. Edith describes her fellow guests to…


Who am I?

I grew up on a farm in Northern Ireland. Ulster was always an inspiration, for both my painting and my writing. My first novel, The Misremembered Man, became a bestseller worldwide, and I followed it with several more works of fiction. I attribute their success to the magic of rural Ireland, and the wonderful characters who peopled my childhood. My formative years, unhappy and fearful though they were, serve as a repository of emotion and stimulation, which I draw upon frequently in my writing. Having the courage to change and grow in difficult circumstances is a common theme. Since all my novels are character-driven, my book choices broadly reflect this strength in the authors I have chosen.


I wrote...

The Misremembered Man

By Christina McKenna,

Book cover of The Misremembered Man

What is my book about?

Jamie is undergoing what one might call a midlife crisis. He’s lonely and seeks a wife. Through a ‘lonely hearts’ ad he finds Lydia. The two, she a schoolteacher and he a farmer, at first glance appear to be in stark contrast. Yet the pair discover they have more in common than they bargained for.

Jamie’s future, however, will be greatly influenced by his past. As the story progresses, we learn more and more about his childhood and how it continues to affect his life, his hopes, and his dreams. Only time will tell whether those dreams will come true—or give way to his worst nightmares.  

The White Spider

By Heinrich Harrer,

Book cover of The White Spider: The Classic Account of the Ascent of the Eiger

The monster of the Bernese Alps, the north face of the Eiger (“the Ogre”), a sheer face of rock taunting and tempting intrepid Alpinists, resisted all attempts to climb it until 1938. Prior to that, climbers fell to their deaths with distressing frequency, made even more macabre by an accident of touristic geography that provided a luxury hotel on a nearby hillock with an unobstructed view of the serial catastrophes. The Austrian Herrer at last summited the face in this white-knuckle tale of determination, grit and luck.


Who am I?

As a history and travel writer, I had always heard the siren song of the Alps. Deciding to try (unsuccessfully) to ignore my fear of heights, I take a hair-raising tour across most of the highest passes of the Alps, through France, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany and Slovenia. So many boundaries crossed: linguistic, religious, historical, political, even culinary. I learned the Alps are not a monolith, they are a polyphony.


I wrote...

The Alps: A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond

By Stephen O'Shea,

Book cover of The Alps: A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond

What is my book about?

For centuries the Alps have been witness to the march of armies, the flow of pilgrims and Crusaders, the feats of mountaineers, and the dreams of engineers. In The Alps, Stephen O’Shea ("a graceful and passionate writer"—Washington Post) takes readers up and down these majestic mountains. Journeying through their 500-mile arc across France, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Austria, and Slovenia, he explores the reality behind historic events and reveals how the Alps have profoundly influenced culture and society.

Terror on the Mountain

By Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz,

Book cover of Terror on the Mountain

Swiss novelist Ramuz delivers a taut, engrossing tale about Alpine villagers whose decision to tempt fate ends in disaster. Ignoring the pleas of their elders, some young men take their flocks to summer in an upland mountain pasture that is reputed locally to be a cursed place. It turns out that the reputation is well earned.


Who am I?

As a history and travel writer, I had always heard the siren song of the Alps. Deciding to try (unsuccessfully) to ignore my fear of heights, I take a hair-raising tour across most of the highest passes of the Alps, through France, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany and Slovenia. So many boundaries crossed: linguistic, religious, historical, political, even culinary. I learned the Alps are not a monolith, they are a polyphony.


I wrote...

The Alps: A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond

By Stephen O'Shea,

Book cover of The Alps: A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond

What is my book about?

For centuries the Alps have been witness to the march of armies, the flow of pilgrims and Crusaders, the feats of mountaineers, and the dreams of engineers. In The Alps, Stephen O’Shea ("a graceful and passionate writer"—Washington Post) takes readers up and down these majestic mountains. Journeying through their 500-mile arc across France, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Austria, and Slovenia, he explores the reality behind historic events and reveals how the Alps have profoundly influenced culture and society.

The Possessed

By Elif Batuman,

Book cover of The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them

This is a compilation of essays about Batuman’s experience of studying Russian literature at Stanford. Wondering about “possible methods for bringing one’s life closer to one’s favorite books,” Batuman traces the literal and figurative path of writers such as Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Babel, finding answers in their life and work while at the same time exploring their influence upon a motley group of Slavic scholars and readers.


Who am I?

In the wake of her father’s death, Katharine Smyth turned to her favorite novel, Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, as a way of wrestling with his memory and understanding her own grief. Her book about the experience, All the Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf, was published by Crown in 2019 and named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Smyth’s work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review, Elle, The New York Times, Literary Hub, Poets & Writers, and The Point.


I wrote...

All the Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf

By Katharine Smyth,

Book cover of All the Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf

What is my book about?

Katharine Smyth was a student at Oxford when she first read Virginia Woolf's modernist masterpiece To the Lighthouse in the comfort of an English sitting room, and in the companionable silence she shared with her father. After his death--a calamity that claimed her favorite person--she returned to that beloved novel as a way of wrestling with his memory and understanding her own grief.

Smyth's story moves between the New England of her childhood and Woolf's Cornish shores and Bloomsbury squares, exploring universal questions about family, loss, and homecoming. Through her inventive, highly personal reading of To the Lighthouse, and her artful adaptation of its groundbreaking structure, Smyth guides us toward a new vision of Woolf's most demanding and rewarding novel--and crafts an elegant reminder of literature's ability to clarify and console.

Frankenstein

By Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley,

Book cover of Frankenstein

The original gothic science fiction novel and a classic in its own right, Shelley’s Frankenstein is brimming with human need, trauma, disgust, and the tragic folly of seeking perfection. The quintessential blend of grotesque and sublime, the story turns the mirror on the worst parts of humanity and forces us to both confront the misery and appreciate the tainted beauty. And Shelley, with her incomparable prose, leads us to this with her opening page, as our frame narrator, Robert Walton, remarks: “I feel a cold northern breeze play upon my cheeks, which braces my nerves, and fills me with delight.” The ultimate expression of gothic science fiction. 


Who am I?

All my life, I have been drawn to the dark, twisty, unconventional, rebellious stories; I was always a little disappointed with the Disney-fied fairytales, always enthralled by the dark imaginings of the originals. As I grew older, I recognised that these dark fables were not just confined to stories of fantasy, but present as seeds of discontent and destruction in our own reality—in the injustices of the present, and disasters of our potential future. As an author, I use these modern parables and prophecies—in dystopian, weird, and gothic science fiction—as a way to explore and critically reflect on our humanity and its future.  


I wrote...

Tasmanian Gothic

By Mikhaeyla Kopievsky,

Book cover of Tasmanian Gothic

What is my book about?

A dark biopunk thriller of gothic proportionsSolari wasn’t alive when the radiation rained down, but she’s living with the consequences—the mutations, the gangland war, and the wall that divides Tasmania’s affluent North from its contaminated South. Alone in the southern reaches, Solari survives by cooking wildly addictive snowrock for the local crime lord and avoiding the city’s mutants. 

But, when a bad deal turns worse, Solari is forced to run—escaping retribution with a stolen van and a pair of giant wings cleaved from a mutant moth. Grafting the wings to her body will disguise Solari as one of Tasmania’s most reviled, and set her on a dangerous journey through gangland strongholds to get to the Border Wall, and safety, in the north.

The Swiss Courier

By Tricia Goyer, Mike Yorkey,

Book cover of The Swiss Courier

There were so many things that I loved about this book, starting with its riveting first scene. When I teach classes about great beginnings, I stress the need to hook a reader in the first three pages. Goyer and Yorkey did that and more. They kept me hooked until the surprising denouement. Make no mistake. I would not have wanted to live in Europe during World War II, but Goyer and Yorkey’s collaboration is filled with so many fascinating details of life during that tumultuous and dangerous time along with an introduction to the fine art of safe cracking that I couldn’t put it down. 


Who am I?

Like Thomas Jefferson, I cannot live without books. And, while I read in a variety of genres, from early childhood on, my favorite stories were the ones that began with “once upon a time.” My fascination with historicals started with one of my father’s few books from his childhood, The Cave Twins, which introduced me to a world far different from suburban America. For me, the appeal of historicals is the opportunity to learn about another era and to escape from the modern world. And so, if you want to escape from what seems like an endless pandemic, I invite you to explore the worlds six talented authors have created.


I wrote...

The Spark of Love

By Amanda Cabot,

Book cover of The Spark of Love

What is my book about?

When a spurned suitor threatens her, heiress Alexandra Tarkington flees New York for Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country, where her father is building a hotel. But her father insists she return to New York. Instead, Alexandra carves out a niche for herself in town, teaching schoolchildren to paint and enjoying the company of Gabe Seymour, a delightful man she met on the stagecoach.

Two men, each with his own agenda, have followed her to Mesquite Springs. And Gabe is an investigator, searching for proof that her father is a swindler. When a series of apparent accidents threaten her life, Alexandra and Gabe will have to work together to discover the truth. And perhaps they will discover that the sparks they've felt from the beginning are more than sparks--they're love.

Frances and the Monster

By Refe Tuma,

Book cover of Frances and the Monster

A visual and cinematic adventure that sweeps you through a pre-WWII version of Switzerland, this Frankenstein-inspired story is jam-packed with action and humor. The primary characters are all idiosyncratic in a memorable way—Frances, who lost an ear in a car crash; Fritz, the monkey juiced up on intelligence serum; and Hobbes, the android tutor. Even the secondary characters are crafted with heart and colorfully distinct in their own respects. The cliff-hangers and twists pushed the action along and I’m sure this will be a story kids read late into the night wanting to find out what happens next. I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Who am I?

I love to read a good action-adventure story. I’ve also written a few. And I know that no matter how high the stakes, if there’s no heart in the characters then there’s very little engagement to make it any more memorable than a temporary thrill. I love thrills, but the stories that stick with you after the excitement of the moment is over, those are the true gems. Besides the fun of reading that type of book, maybe you even learn something about yourself or the world and come out a wee bit wiser than when you went in. And isn’t that a fantastic use of our imaginative powers?!


I wrote...

The Eye of Ra

By Ben Gartner,

Book cover of The Eye of Ra

What is my book about?

Exploring a mysterious cave in the mountains behind their house, John and his sister Sarah are shocked to discover they’ve time traveled to ancient Egypt!

Now they must work together to find a way back home from an ancient civilization of golden desert sand and a towering new pyramid, without parents to save them. The adventures abound—cobras, scorpions, a tomb robber, and more! The two kids have to trust each other, make friends who can help, and survive the challenges thrown at them . . . or be stuck in ancient Egypt forever.

Federer and Me

By William Skidelsky,

Book cover of Federer and Me: A Story of Obsession

Finally, this is one for the fans, who are so important in sport. The blurb tells us, "For much of the past decade, William Skidelsky has not been able to stop thinking about Roger Federer, the greatest and most graceful player of all time. It’s a devotion that has been all-consuming." An obsession it certainly is and Skidellsky looks at it from all angles: his own emotional problems, the way the game of tennis has developed (not always for the better), and what Federer signifies as a sports and cultural icon. Why fans cared so passionately about Federer and more than about any other player tells us much about our culture of spectacle and consumption and our longing in a secular and cynical world for heroes to capture our imagination and to inspire.


Who am I?

I'm an art, performance, and music junkie. I love spectacle. My writing career began with articles in the political underground press of the 1970s and I've always seen art and entertainment as ‘political’ in their messages and in the emotions they incite. Tennis for me is part of a cultural spectrum embracing fashion, city and recreational life, film and artistic counter cultures, all creating a world of excitement and passion, so my writing on tennis is part of a wider project: to try to answer the questions of why these performances are so much more than ‘just’ entertainment, why they give passion and meaning to life, and why they are inspirational.

I wrote...

Love Game: A History of Tennis, from Victorian Pastime to Global Phenomenon

By Elizabeth Wilson,

Book cover of Love Game: A History of Tennis, from Victorian Pastime to Global Phenomenon

What is my book about?

My love letter to tennis, this book brings alive (I hope) the romance and eroticism of tennis, but it is also a serious history of this elaborate game with its mysterious scoring system. It began in medieval court life and by the Renaissance was played by royalty, Henry VIII among others, and aristocrats and was considered an essential part of a gentleman’s education. The Victorians revived it as a romantic garden party event on suburban lawns and today it has adapted again to become a gladiatorial world sport. Yet it has not lost its glamour or its drama. Love Game dramatizes the great matches, the triumphs and agonizing defeats, the heroes and heroines of the game, and with them, the reasons for its unique appeal.

Galicia, the Switzerland of Spain

By Annette M. B. Meakin,

Book cover of Galicia, the Switzerland of Spain

Meakin was one of those wonderfully well-travelled Victorian ladies, the early forerunners of the travel writer genre. She visited Galicia in 1907, almost exactly one hundred years before we moved here, yet her descriptions of the Galicia which I love are instantly recognisable. The furze (gorse), still shines from the hillsides; the granite cottages are still there; as are the washing tubs, though less frequently used than in Meakin’s day. The singing cartwheels may be all but gone but the maize fields, the cherry and apple blossoms, and the Gallegans, still remain. One hundred and twenty years on, Meakin would still recognise the Switzerland of Spain.


Who am I?

I have lived in beautiful green Galicia for 14 years and am passionately in love with this undiscovered area of Spain. Whilst writing my own travelogue memoirs, I have avidly researched my adopted country and love nothing more than to travel the area, discovering new delights round each corner. I have discovered that Galicia is not just ‘that wet bit of Spain’ and is in fact a whole world away from the Mediterranean costas of the south with its own language – the language of poets, its own identity, and its very own being. Here I have tried to choose books I feel demonstrate that uniqueness, that special quality which makes Galicia extraordinary.


I wrote...

Plum, Courgette & Green Bean Tart: A year to write home about - Seeking la vida dulce in Galicia

By Lisa Rose Wright,

Book cover of Plum, Courgette & Green Bean Tart: A year to write home about - Seeking la vida dulce in Galicia

What is my book about?

Have you ever wanted to leave the rat race, move abroad and live the good life somewhere green and bountiful? Lisa and her partner, the enigmatic S, did just that. In 2007 they left their jobs as newt catchers and their native English shores for beautiful green Galicia in the remote northwest of Spain – a land of mystery and mists, Celtic music and Celtic legends, and a language of its very own. 

Follow one couple’s love affair with this unspoiled region as Lisa and S set to work to self-renovate a derelict farmhouse, whilst trying to become self-sufficient and learn more about this untamed part of the Iberian peninsula. Their story unfolds through Lisa’s letters to her mum, making this truly a series to write home about.

Or, view all 23 books about Switzerland

New book lists related to Switzerland

All book lists related to Switzerland

Bookshelves related to Switzerland