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The Twelve Chairs

Think you have figured out how transitions work? Not until you have read The Twelve Chairs about Soviet Russia in the 1920s.
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Before I take you on a tour of a tentative Top Eleven for all tastes and ages, note that you can support this site by taking advantage of Amazon offers. Any purchase directed from this site will be greatly appreciated, allowing me to continue to work on this site and readers to take advantage of this resource.

Books about Romania added on April 6, 2002:
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Bucharest
By Radu Anton Roman.
Parkstone Press, 1999.
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Doing Business in Romania
By Adam Jolly (Editor), Nadine Kettaneh.
Kogan Page, 1999.
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Romanian Rhapsody:
An Overlooked Corner of Europe

By Dominique Fernandez, Ferrante Ferranti (Photographer),
Claudiu A. Secara (Introduction).
Algora Pub, 2000.
Roumanian Journey
By Sacheverell Sitwell,

A. Costa, Wyndham (Illustrator).
Oxford UP, 1992 (Reprint edition).
Romanians and Romania
By Ioan Aurel Pop. Columbia UP, 2000.
Romania Revisited:
On the Trail of English Travellers, 1602-1941

By Alan Ogden (Photographer).
Center for Romanian Studies, 2000.
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Communist Terror in Romania:
Gheorghiu-Dej and the Police State, 1948-1965

By Dennis Deletant. Palgrave, 2000.
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Ana Pauker:
The Rise and Fall of a Jewish Communist

By Robert Levy. University of California Press, 2001.


I guess I could best describe the below as books who might seem easy, but really aren't. Each of us will read any of the below at a different level -- yet the beauty of it is, we'll all be able to read them, and, as the phrase goes, get something life enhancing from them. So, if you want a book to get you thinking about life, entertain you, and mesmerize you with beautiful yet simple language, just pick a book from this list.
Books on Romania -- selection
1. The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream. By Paulo Coelho

This is a played down rendering of a mesh of allegories that speak heaps about us as humans walking the earth in search of our own path. Once you've read it, the book itself or the memory of it will surely haunt you.





The Lonely Planet Romania and Moldova travel guide is one of the best around for Romania. A must have for anyone traveling to Romania. April 2001.


2. Mr. Tompkins in Paperback. By George Gamow

If your friend loves science and Einstein, here's a fiction book to stretch his or her brains pleasantly:





Primer for Those Who Would Govern

Hermann Oberth, father of astronautics, left behind science coupled with words of wisdon. Primer for Those Who Would Govern is his last book.


3. Cocolat: Extraordinary Chocolate Desserts

Got to have some chocolate in our lives.

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Cocolat: Extraordinary Chocolate Desserts
By Alice Medrich, Patricia Brabant (Photographer). Warner Books, 1990.




Taste of Romania: Its Cookery and Glimpses of Its History, Folklore, Art, Literature, and Poetry

Cooking is part of culture. Cooking is an art. Cooking is joy. This book will prove all this and more. One of the best cookbooks about Romania around! By Nicolae Klepper.


4. Dune. By Frank Herbert

The book that started a series of 6 books and 3 prequels. Its appeal lies far beyond traditional science fiction to encompass great issues of our humanity that might have well been discussed in books covering history, religion, ecology rather than hard science. If you think sci-fi is not for you, this book just might be.





Romanian Cassette with Phrase Book. From Berlitz. $13.26

In case you have decided to learn Romanian, take this step first. Also very useful if visiting Romania is on your agenda.


5. The Razor's Edge (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics). By W. Somerset Maugham

Maugham wrote this book in the US during WWII and condensed into it the experience of a lifetime. (He once quipped it has taken him "sixy years" to write it.) The title, referring to a Zen Buddhist phrase, suits the author's preoccupation with one's struggle to nurture spiritual life and freedom in the midst of a materialistic world. Maugham's deploring of "lack of congenial society" on the path to spiritual fulfilment is worth musing over in today's world as it was during WWII -- and remember the thoughts are enmeshed in an accomplished piece of literature.





Romania Hermitages, Monasteries and Churches

Romania enshrines monasteries and churches dating back to Roman times -- some of them, as you know already, are world heritage. This book has sold more than 2 million copies on Amazon. By Petre Baron, 1999.


6. Collected Short Stories (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics). By W. Somerset Maugham

Maugham's knows how to tell a story. You hardly know what keeps you spellbound: his crisp style served by most evoking yet concise descriptions, or the characters that he manages to bring to life in a matter of pages. Add to this exotic settings, and you'll hear Maugham's raindrops and the voices of his characters right outside your window.





Unlike the more practical and tips filled Lonely Planet Romania and Moldova travel guide, Blue Guide Romania (Blue Guides) is rich in colorful descriptions and bets on luring you to Romania.


7. The Name of the Rose. By Umberto Eco

Now this is not a book for everyone, but if you hit the right person, lover of history, mysteries and, most of all, an inquisiting mind, the fiction of 14th century monks turned detectives is one of the best mystery books he or she can hope to read.





Eros, Magic, & the Murder of Professor Culianu

By Ted Anton, Northwestern University Press, 1996.


8. Aura. By Carlos Fuentes

Carlos Fuentes is one of those authors that mix the past and the present, giving a magic quality to both. If you want a story on various levels, some readily perceptible and some more occult and confusing, here's Aura for you. You'll read it in few hours yet keep her memory forever.





In Search of Dracula: The History of Dracula and Vampires

Learn who Vlad the Impaler was, and how he became a legend as Dracula. By Raymond T. McNally and Radu R. Florescu (contributor), two key figures in the study of historical Dracula and the folklore, myths and obsessions his story engendered. Revised edition (1994) of the 1972 study.


9. Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon: Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda

This is poetry by one of the world's most gifted and sensitive writer. A book to hold by your bedside to remind you about the wealth, joy and love in the world surrounding us.





The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion

Sacred space and time parallel and enter our daily existence.
Harvest Books, 1968.


10. Narcissus and Goldmund. By Hermann Hesse

The two characters are together in vision but separate in reality. Enlighted emotion longs for reason and an appeased spirit secretly hopes he could feel wild emotion again; yet respecting the difference doesn't mean that you can enact it. A book about the conflicting answers we try to put side by side many times in life. A story about seeing the complete image of what you could be, and answering your inner self which has already chosen for you.





The Bald Soprano and Other Plays: The Lesson/Jack or the Submission/The Chairs

Start getting absurd with this volume of Ionesco's works. It's witty and humorous and quotable outside the world of the "theater of the absurd."


11. The Idiot. By F.M. Dostoevsky

Dostoevsky's characters are there like the mountains. Once they get on your map, there's hardly anything to surpass them. You might not want to climb these mountains every day, but do it at least once and you'll see human nature differently.





Imagining the Balkans

Maria Todorova's book from 1997 uncovers the mechanisms which have turned a region into a negative counterpart to Western Europe. A must read for anybody who wants to understand European pride and prejudice.


Still not convinced?

My Travel Romania pages are full of suggestions! You can start with Lucian Boia's History and Myth in Romanian Consciousness and Pacepa's Red Horizons: The True Story of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescus' Crimes, Lifestyle, and Corruption.

More books and CDs accompany other sections, especially the one on Famous Romanians.

Page 1: Ana Aslan, Alexander Balanescu, Constantin Brancusi, Victor Brauner, Nicolae Ceausescu, Sergiu Celibidache, Emil Cioran, Henri Coanda, Andrei Codrescu, Nadia Comaneci, Ileana Cotrubas, Ioan Petru Culianu, Dracula, Mircea Eliade, George Enescu

Page 2: Angela Gheorghiu, Eugene Ionesco, Mihail Manoilescu, Emeric Marcier, Hermann Oberth, George E. Palade, Andrei Serban, Paul Tomita, Tristan Tzara, Ion Tiriac, Johnny (Tarzan) Weissmuller, Elie Wiesel

Page 3 (younger sports, movie and music celebrities): Ramona Badescu, Gheorghe Muresan (will be joined by others)

Scroll down to see links in these categories about Romania:
Copyright 2001-2002 Raluca Preotu. All rights reserved.