Oct 1, 2010 11:04:07 AM
The Baltic States: travel books to read before you go
This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania guide provides a selection of literature to get you in the mood for your trip.
The following page-turners have a rich Baltic flavour that evokes the region’s people and places and its complex history. Some are entertaining or enlightening travelogues revealing snippets of life in another era, while others craftily use a Baltic city as a backdrop for their tale.
Among the Russians (Colin Thubron) Gloomy and resigned, yes, but that was precisely the mood when this Englishman motored everywhere he could in pre-glasnost USSR.
Between Each Breath (Adam Thorpe) In this witty recent novel, Tallinn and the Estonian islands are the setting for a successful Englishman’s midlife crisis and infidelity, and the fallout from his actions.
Journey into Russia (Laurens van der Post) The three Baltic capitals are vividly painted in this travelogue through Soviet Russia in the 1960s.
The Merry Baker of Riga (Boris Zemtzov) Hilarious and dry, this intuitive tale of an American entrepreneur setting up shop as a baker in Rīga in 1992 is a true story.
To the Baltic with Bob (Griff Rhys Jones) Sail with Griff (a well-known British comedian, writer and actor) and his mate Bob from London to St Petersburg via Ventspils, Rīga, Saaremaa, Vormsi, Paldiski (‘a wreck’) and Tallinn. There are some decent laughs and spot-on descriptions, but rather too much boating talk for our liking.
Venusburg (Anthony Powell) For a taste of 1930s Latvia and Estonia, try this amusing tale of a journalist hobnobbing with exiled Russian aristocrats, Baltic-German intellectuals and local patriots.
More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found here.