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Looking for a good book to read while you're traveling in Czech Republic? Check out my list of books about Czech Republic and by Czech authors.

The Glass Room

Simon Mawer
CATEGORIES: Classic/Culturally Significant | Person/Place/Event | Sense of Culture

Rich, successful Viktor and Liesel Landauer hire a modernist architect to build a groundbreaking dream house (space and light!) in 1920s Czechoslovakia and fill it with friends and avant-garde artists, having no way of knowing that this prize will have to be abandoned in the ’30s as they flee central Europe before Viktor’s Jewish roots draw attention. As the family struggles abroad to survive, their iconic home changes hands — to the Nazis, the Soviets, and back to the Czechs, each group falling under its spell in the glass-enclosed main room, its most captivating element. Based on a real (and thinly disguised) masterwork by architect Mies van der Rohe, this historical novel spans 60 years, following the lives and misadventures of its richly drawn characters — the house itself among them.

(Recommended by Kate Zentall, writer/editor)

Too Loud a Solitude

Bohumil Hrabal
CATEGORIES: Classic/Culturally Significant

Hrabal, whom Milan Kundera once called “our very best writer today,” first secretly self-published his novel in 1976, but it didn’t officially come out until 1989 due to Czechoslovakia’s political censorship. From A Year of Reading the World: “As antiheroes go, they don’t come much more dubious than Hanta, an eccentric loner who has spent 35 years crushing outlawed books and waste paper in a sinister police state. Working alone with his hydraulic press turning rare book collections into bales of compacted paper, he is an agent of forces that all freethinking readers must abhor.”

(Recommended by Ann Morgan, author and TED speaker)

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