Good Reads in Romania

Sami and I have decided that for every country we visit we will read one book either about the place, set in the place or by an author from the place. So for Romania, here’s what we read.

Sami’s Choice: Novel of a Short-Sighted Adolescent by Mircea Eliade

An under-achieving teenager who doesn’t think highly of his physical appearance is trying to write a novel and gets lost in his passion for other books. This book is set in Bucharest in the 1920s and gives a feeling as to what everyday life might have been like for a teenager back then. Though Sami didn’t feel that he took a lot away from the book in terms of Romanian culture and history he did really enjoy it.  What he found quite interesting was the background of the author, who wrote the book when he was only 17 – the same age as the protagonist of the novel. It wasn’t published until after his death, when it was found in the attic of his home in Bucharest.

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Steph’s Choice: Blinding by Mircea Cărtărescu

I choose this book because I was told by the store owner that Mircea Cărtărescu was the BEST author in the world. I’m not sure I would necessarily agree on this one but its an interesting read. To sum this book up, I would say that its so avant-garde that it can’t really be summed up at all. Its clearly a work of art but difficult to comprehend in many parts. In so far as I understood it, it is a part memoir-part dream, which tells the legend of Cărtărescu’s mother. Lacking a solid plot, the book takes you on a whimsical ride through the imagination of a child, from scenes of the narrator sitting in his room overlooking the Bucharest skyline and philosophizing about the nature of his existence to mythical stories of Bulgarians resurrecting zombies(!?). This definitely isn’t a book for everyone but it is beautifully written and reads almost like a giant poem.

Nu’s Choice: Să învățăm cuvinte noi Walt Disney

He couldn’t explain to us in great detail what he took away from this book but he seemed it enjoy it and we learnt a couple of Romanian words!

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We’ve also tried to watch as many documentaries and movies on each place we are going to better understand the people and culture. Here are a few we thought you might find interesting:

Meet Bruce Lee, King of Romania’s Tunnel Underworld

The Struggle for the Survival of the Roma People: Europe’s Most Hated