Reading for the Road:
A Few of Our Favourite Books About Romania
At The Slow Road, we answer to many names (wanderers, bon vivants, students of life) but first and foremost, we’re a group of dedicated travellers.
That’s why we love compiling reading lists that include those books—from novels to memoirs, and everything in between—that have really opened up our favourite regions.
In this post, we’ll round up a few of our favourite books about Romania, a country whose idyllic landscapes and charming villages cushion the buzzing Bucharest, often referred to as “the Paris of the East.”
The Best Books About Romania
By Herta Müller
A haunting work of fiction, The Land of Green Plums speaks to Ceaușescu’s reign of terror in Romania (Ceaușescu was leader of Romania from 1965 until he was overthrown and killed in a revolution in 1989). Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Müller captures the prevailing sense of madness enveloping the entire country.
By John Villiers
From the colourful traditions of Transylvania to the sophistication of Bucharest, Romania comes to life in this 416-page book. The gorgeous painted churches of the unspoilt Carpathian mountain country, the unique wooden architecture of Maramures, the fascinating riches of a country on the edge of both the Ancient Roman and the Byzantine empires are presented in detail, together with practical information for travellers.
By Keith Hitchins
Hitchins doesn’t mince words and this concise history certainly lives up to its promise by arranging Romania into four distinct periods: medieval, early modern, modern and the so-called return to Europe. Of interesting note is the author’s consideration of the struggle for a national identity in light of Romania’s unique status on the border between the eastern world and the western world.
By Herta Müller
Late in the reign of Nicolae Ceaușescu, the protagonist is summoned for interrogation. While riding the tram to the appointment she finds herself wading through her memories, none of which give her much hope. When awarded the Nobel Prize, Müller was described as an author “who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed.”
By Nigel Shakespear
(No, we didn’t spell that wrong. And yes, that is his real name!)
Each chapter is a new voice in this roaming first-person narrative that provides a portrait of Romania today. Compiled in the tradition of oral histories, Shakespear presents Romania as a riveting, challenging and unpredictable place that is underscored by the vitality of its people.