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15 Best Books About Croatia

Are you looking for the best books about Croatia? Well, you’re in luck, because I’m about to give you the best books out there that will completely immerse you in Croatia’s rich culture and colorful history.

Whether you’re gearing up for an unforgettable vacation in Croatia and are eager to soak in every bit of knowledge about this Mediterranean destination, or if you’re part of the Croatian diaspora longing to delve deeper into your roots, I’ve got your back.

As a Croatian-American that’s been living in Zagreb for nearly a decade, I can tell you that I’ve found reading books about Croatia through the eyes of expats and returnees really resonates with me. There’s something incredibly special about rediscovering your roots or seeing a familiar place through a different lens.

In this post, I’m excited to share a handpicked selection of reads that are perfect for getting you in the Croatian spirit, whether you’re counting down the days until your trip or already lounging by the Adriatic Sea.

From tales about life in Croatia, to fictional novels set in Croatia, and the best travel books about Croatia – I’ve got it all covered.

So, let’s dive in!

A vintage tea cup perched atop a stack of hardcover books with titles in Croatian, sitting on a windowsill. The blurred background reveals the warm hues of a historic stone building, evoking a sense of calm and nostalgia.

Best Books About Croatia

1. Chasing a Croatian Girl: A Survivor’s Tale

I love this book. First of all, Cody is hilarious (I just recently found out that he does stand-up too!) and “Chasing a Croatian Girl” had me chuckling from start to finish. The book unfolds his own enchanting tale as an American falling for a Croatian woman, and the adventurous, sometimes comical, shift to life in her native city of Split.

His narrative gives readers a deep dive into the culture shock and Croatian customs he experiences in his adopted home. It’s a must-read for anyone with a connection to Croatia, whether you’re planning to visit or have relatives in this part of the world.

As a non-Croatian, Cody captured the essence of the Croatian soul to its very depth. This is an amazing feat. As a Croatian American, I laughed out loud so many times reading this book.

Helena (Read more reviews)

2. Croatia Strikes Back: The Unnecessary Sequel

I read this one a while ago. It’s the sequel to “Chasing a Croatian Girl”, and from what I remember I enjoyed the first one more than the sequel (which is often the case with movies and books). But nonetheless this one still stands out as an engaging read.

Cody McClain Brown returns in this sequel, humorously chronicling his ongoing adventures and misadventures in adapting to life in Croatia. With his wife, daughter, mother-in-law, new friends, and dog in tow, Cody navigates a maze of bureaucracy, the challenging Croatian language, and default skeptical mindset of the locals. “Croatia Strikes Back” is a story about resilience, community, and finding humor in the face of adversity.

This book is hysterical! A real life look at what it means to be part of a Croatian family and live in Croatia when you yourself are not a Croat! I am savoring every page!!

JKere (Read more reviews)

3. All Things Croatia: From Los Angeles to the Homeland

If you’re from the Croatian diaspora, you’re going to want to get your hands on Stanko Zovak’s book. Stanko is a friend of mine and founder of the All Things Croatia Podcast (go have a listen if you haven’t yet!).

In his book, Stanko shares what it was like growing up in the Croatian diaspora, dealing with dual identity, and the struggles of learning a new language in a semi-foreign country.

His story is both super relatable and hilarious, making it a must-read for anyone with Croatian roots looking to take the leap and move back to the homeland.

A heartwarming journey with lots of funny and relatable moments. Lots of Croatian language gems as well. A great read for those on a similar journey to connect with their Croatian roots.

Anonymous (read more reviews)

4. Zagreb Noir

“Zagreb Noir” is a captivating collection of stories that delves into the dark and complex heart of Eastern European history, with a sharp focus on Croatia’s capital, Zagreb. Set against the backdrop of Zagreb’s diverse locales, these narratives weave together the city’s multifaceted personality – from the echoes of its war-torn past to the intensity of soccer hooliganism.

These narratives in “Zagreb Noir” strike the perfect balance between darkness and wit, offering readers an insightful look into the unique Croatian sense of humor.

It might be my Eastern European sensibility, but I found all the writers in this book fresh, funny-and sad, poetic and rough in just the right proportion.

Gabriela (Read more reviews)

Books Set in Croatia

5. Running Away to Home: Our Family’s Journey to Croatia

“Running Away to Home” by Jennifer Wilson is a heartwarming memoir of a Midwest family’s year-long adventure in Croatia. Seeking a more fulfilling life, Jennifer and her husband decide to uproot their lives in Iowa with their children to reconnect with her Croatian roots in the small mountain village of Mrkopalj.

Immersed in local customs, from milking cows to roasting pig on a spit at village gatherings, her book captures the essence of connecting with a land that feels both foreign and familiar. Something I can really resonate with having also made the move from the USA to Croatia.

This journey was daring; the story is moving, poignant, and laugh-out-loud funny thanks to Wilson’s shining honesty and willingness to lay it bare for readers.

M. D. (Read more reviews)

6. Girl at War

“Girl at War” by Sara Nović is a profound and deeply moving novel set in Croatia, offering an intimate glimpse into the experiences of living through the Homeland War in 1991. The story centers around Ana, a young girl whose life is irrevocably changed by the war.

We follow her journey from the innocence of her pre-war life, through the harrowing events she endures during the conflict, to her desperate efforts to survive. She manages to escape to New York City, where she grapples with the immense challenge of adapting to normal life, as her past continues to haunt her.

“Girl at War” is a heart-wrenching yet powerful portrayal of resilience, memory, and the enduring effects of war on individuals and communities.

[An] old-fashioned page-turner that will demand all of the reader’s attention, happily given. A debut novel that astonishes.

Vanity fair (Read more reviews)

7. The Tiger’s Wife

“The Tiger’s Wife” by Téa Obreht is a mesmerizing novel set in post-war Yugoslavia. It follows Natalia, a young doctor, as she investigates her grandfather’s mysterious death. Obreht intertwines Natalia’s quest with enchanting folktales from her grandfather’s past, including the story of a tiger that escapes to a village and befriends a local deaf-mute woman, and the mystical tale of the Deathless Man, who cannot die but foresees the deaths of others.

Set against a backdrop of a country healing from war, the novel beautifully highlights the significance of preserving traditions and stories. All of the locations in the book are fictional, with Obreht hinting at coastal locations that may bear resemblance to Croatia, although not explicitly stated.

The Tiger’s Wife is an outstanding ambitious book of depth and meaning that draws links between a troubled aftermath in a war-torn region with the backdrop of superstition and myths.

Peter (Read more reviews)

8. Immigrant Daughter: Stories You Never Told Me 

“Immigrant Daughter” is a touching narrative about American-born Catherine’s quest to uncover her Croatian mother Marijana’s hidden past after her death from ovarian cancer. At 22, Catherine feels disconnected from her heritage, knowing little about her mother’s tumultuous youth. She discovers that Marijana survived WWII as an orphan, narrowly escaped death as a teenager, and fled Communist Yugoslavia for Rome, then South America.

Catherine’s journey through her mother’s history, blending travel, memory, and imagination, not only brings to life the relatives she never met but also serves as a healing process for both mother and daughter, bridging the gap between past and present. This story beautifully shows how sharing an immigrant mother’s untold history can bring about healing for both.

This book swept me up into cultures and history I hadn’t known very much about. Kapphahn’s mother hadn’t shared many details of her life, but Kapphahn worked tirelessly to get answers; no small task since her mother has passed away and had lived a rich life on multiple continents. Her deep love for her mother is imprinted on every page of the book.

Momcubed (Read more reviews)

9. The Hired Man

“The Hired Man” by Aminatta Forna is a riveting novel set in the small Croatian village of Gost, where the arrival of a British woman, Laura, and her children stirs the town’s dormant secrets. Duro, a local resident, is intrigued by these outsiders and becomes involved in helping refurbish their summer cottage, forming a close bond with Laura.

As he tries to protect them from the village’s growing hostility, long-buried and dangerous secrets begin to emerge, threatening not only the tranquility of the town but also the lives of its new residents.

This is really a marvelous work of mystery, historical fiction, and psychology; the plot kept me turning the pages, and the writing itself was quite excellent.

K. Sterling (Read more reviews)

10. Our Man in Iraq

“Our Man in Iraq,” a novel by Croatian author Robert Perišić, is a compelling narrative that intertwines the complexities of war, personal struggles, and political satire. The book takes place in Croatia and follows a local journalist who sends a distant relative to report on the war in Iraq. Meanwhile, back home, he grapples with his chaotic love life and professional challenges.

As the situation escalates, he finds himself fabricating his cousin’s reports and struggling to maintain his relationship with his girlfriend. “Our Man in Iraq” offers a unique perspective on the Iraqi conflict from the standpoint of post-Yugoslav Europe, blending the remnants of recent regional conflicts with the nuances of modern life in a story where politics, nepotism, and personal lives collide.

Such a strange, comic novel coming out of Croatia, set at the time of the Iraq War. Just plain quirky, with huge dollops of human insight and pathos. A quick read to one of my favorite countries.

Bodkins (Read more reviews)

Books About Croatian History

11. A Traveller’s History of Croatia

If you want to learn about the rich and complex history of Croatia, you need to get your hands on “A Traveler’s History of Croatia”. Author Benjamin Curtis dives deep into the nation’s fascinating and tumultuous past, shaped by Mediterranean, Central European, and Balkan influences.

Beginning with its ancient Greek and Roman legacy, the book explores the early Croatian state’s challenges. From the Venetian impact during the Middle Ages to the Ottoman invasions and Habsburg rule, all the way to the complexities of Yugoslavia and WWII, and finally Croatia’s independence in 1992, the book charts the country’s history through its numerous rulers.

A fascinating work. I brought it along to read on a trip to Croatia and, of the three or four histories of Croatia I’ve read, it was by far the most enjoyable.

Gioia (Read more reviews)

12. Cafe Europa

“Cafe Europa,” by renowned journalist Slavenka Drakulić, known for her contributions to the New York Times and other global publications, offers a compelling snapshot of life in Eastern Europe, particularly the Balkans, during the 1990s.

This collection of essays paints a picture of the region’s post-communist landscape in the early ’90s, delving into both the political and social challenges and the more intimate aspects of daily life. If you’re curious about how people navigated life during those times, “Cafe Europa” is a must-read that’s both eye-opening and super engaging.

Cafe Europa is not a standard history text; rather it is a collection of related articles that reveal the attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors of individuals who have lived in both the communist world as well as the post-communist period. Drakulic is a great travel companion with a keen feel for the people that she writes about.

Joseph (Read more reviews)

Travel Books on Croatia

13. Island Hopping Guide

Croatia Island Hopping Guidebook, one of the best travel books about Croatia.

This ebook was written by yours truly! If you’re dreaming of island hopping around southern Croatia but don’t know where to start, this book is for you. Packed with over 70 pages of expert travel advice, this Island Hopping Guide will provide you with detailed information on accommodation, transportation, and activities for Croatia’s most popular islands.

In it, you’ll also find 3 different island hopping routes, plus restaurant recommendations and hidden gems you won’t find anywhere else!

Absolutely stunning digital book. Congratulations on creating such a visual masterpiece with so much information.

Lisa (Read more reviews)

14. Rick Steves Croatia and Slovenia

If a classic travel guidebook is what you’re after, you can’t go wrong with Rick Steves’ “Croatia & Slovenia”. Known for creating meaningful experiences for travelers visiting Europe, this guidebook is will provide you with in-depth coverage of the cities, towns, and attractions that Croatia and Slovenia have to offer, all while getting to know the local culture.

IMO, this is the best travel book on Slovenia and Croatia for the American and Canadian travelers. Rick Steves is a legend in its own right, and he totally delivers in this book!

Nick (Read more reviews)

15. Lonely Planet Croatia 12

Lonely Planet makes some of the best and most comprehensive guides for destinations all over the world, and this 2024 version is bound to be the best one yet. I have several Lonely Planet guidebooks and they are (aside from reading blogs) always the ones I turn to first when traveling.

This one doesn’t have any reviews yet because it’s brand spanking new!

Final Thoughts: Best Books About Croatia

That wraps up my recommendations for the best books about Croatia! I hope you found something on this list that piques your interest and transports you to the picturesque streets, serene coastlines, and historical depth of Croatia.

Whether you’re planning your next Croatian adventure or just looking to travel through the pages from the comfort of your home, these reads will be your perfect companions.

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Croatia Travel Planning Guide

💸 What is the currency in Croatia?
As of January 1st, 2023, the official currency of Croatia is the Euro and NOT the Kuna (which is also the name of the national animal of Croatia).

🇭🇷 What language do they speak in Croatia?
Croatian is the official language of Croatia. Learn some phrases in Croatian before your trip with the Ling app!

🚑 Should I buy Croatia travel insurance?
10000% YES – Seriously, don’t leave home without it. You never know what can happen on the road. I like SafetyWing because they provide excellent coverage for as little as $1.50 a day.

📱 Will my phone work in Croatia?
Maybe – check with your provider to see if you’ll have service while traveling Croatia. If you don’t have service (or it’s too expensive) I recommend getting an eSIM like Airalo. Airalo allows you to have data while traveling without the high costs of roaming. They have super affordable plans available for 190+ countries, including Croatia. Download the app and get your plan before you leave home so that you have data as soon as you touch down in Croatia!

🏨 What’s the best way to book my Croatia accommodations?
For Croatia hotels, Booking is by far the best site.

🛫 What’s the best site to buy Croatia flights?
I always use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights.

🚗  Is it safe to rent a Car in Croatia?
Yes! – In fact, renting a car in Croatia is one of the best ways to see the country! I recommend Discover Cars because they check both local and international rental companies to ensure you get the best deal. (Get your Croatia road trip itinerary here)

💦 Is it safe to drink the water in Croatia?
Tap water in Croatia is completely safe to drink, so bring your reusable water bottle and fill up!

🪪 Do I need a visa for Croatia?
Depending on where you are coming from you may or may not need a visa to enter Croatia. Check the official Republic of Croatia Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for more information on who should apply for a visa.

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