Poland: travel books to read before you go

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This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Poland guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip.

You will get far more out of your visit if you read up on the country before you go. There’s no shortage of English-language books about Poland, though most deal with language, culture and customs rather than actual travel experiences.

The evocative writing of Bruno Schulz in Street of Crocodiles captures life in his small village of Drogobych (now in Ukraine) before WWII. His descriptions are gorgeous and quite brilliant.

In The Bronski House, accomplished travel writer Philip Marsden accompanies exiled poet Zofia Hinska on a return to her childhood village, now in Belarus. It’s a magical retelling of life among the landed gentry of eastern Poland between the wars.

Ted Simon’s account of his 2400km walk from Germany to Romania via Poland in The Gypsy In Me is a tale of travel through postcommunist Eastern Europe and a moving personal quest for family origins.

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On Foot to the Golden Horn, by Jason Godwin, follows the journey of three friends on their walk from Gdańsk to Istanbul soon after the fall of communism. Although a tad dated, the book is a great snapshot of the time.

Despite there being little in the way of travel in A Traveller’s History of Poland by John Radzilowski, it’s still a fine read and a good introduction to the roller-coaster ride that is Poland’s history.

Rising ’44, by Norman Davies, provides an enthralling account of Warsaw’s second uprising against the Nazis. The book’s highlights are personal tales of Poles and Germans involved in the terrible battle.

More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found here.