11 Books to Read Before Visiting Montenegro

Sveti Stefan, Montenegro
Sveti Stefan, Montenegro | © 3dman_eu/Pixabay
Sarah Pavlovic

From an untamed land of cattle rustling tribes and blood feuds to a tourist hotspot, Montenegro sure has come a long way. This round up of guides, history books and insights into Montenegrin culture and mentality will make sure any visitor is well-prepared to visit Montenegro, the land of the black mountains.

An Illustrated History of Slavic Misery

An Illustrated History of Slavic Misery aims to set the record straight on a group of people most of the world thinks of as ‘squatting chain-smokers.’ This witty and humorous book by John Bills is a love letter to all the unsung Slavic heroes throughout history… and also some violent, murderous warlords. The book includes some of Montenegro’s most famous sons (because Montenegro doesn’t have any famous daughters yet), including Rambo Amadeus, a champion sailor, as well as the Eurovision contestant with perhaps the least Eurovision-esque entry ever.

The Mountains of Montenegro is a must-read for the many hikers who descend on Montenegro’s wild mountain peaks. With five national parks and a multitude of day walks along old army trails, Montenegro is a hiker’s dream. This book by Rudolf Abraham is a complete guide to the best hiking trails in Montenegro. It includes comprehensive information about the routes, accommodation options, language and transport to the trails.

Lonely Planet Montenegro

Well-prepared travellers who like to have information at their fingertips can’t go past Lonely Planet’s Montenegro guide. The (admittedly heavy) book is a complete guide to Montenegro’s towns and attractions, but where it really excels is with the eBook copy. This offers bookmarking, downloadable maps, reviews and note-taking capability. A must for all visitors!

Berlitz: Montenegro Pocket Guide

Want a lightweight travel guide for Montenegro? Berlitz’s Montenegro Pocket Guide is a compact travel companion by Rudolf Abraham, who also wrote Mountains of Montenegro. The 144 page book covers all the most popular destinations and attractions, accommodation and restaurants in a lightweight guide that fits in a pocket.

The Bridge on the Drina

Ivo Andric was a Bosnian writer who lived in the centre of Herceg Novi in Montenegro. The Bridge on the Drina is often considered his best work among a body of work that focuses on bridging the cultural divides in his native Bosnia. This book will give all visitors the Balkans an insight into the region’s culture and mentality.

Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

The Austro-Hungarian Fortresses of Montenegro: A Hiker’s Guide

Montenegro is a treasure trove of Austro-Hungarian fortresses, and the author of this book, Bernard Sullivan, has visited them all. He covers 17 historic fortresses in the Bay of Kotor, all of which visitors can reach. These abandoned fortresses are witnesses to the great building capability of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Built in strategic locations with stunning views, hikers and history buffs can use this book to explore some of Montenegro’s most impressive ruins.

Realm of the Black Mountain: A History of Montenegro

Realm of the Black Mountain: A History of Montenegro is considered the most complete book on Montenegrin history ever written. Elizabeth Roberts, a former diplomat and Balkan historian, filled a gap in scholarly history books when she wrote this book on Montenegro. It’s a must for anyone wanting to understand the complicated political events that shaped Montenegro and led to its declaration of independence in 2006.

The Full Monte: A Fulbright Scholar’s Humorous and Heart-Warming Experience in Montenegro

This entertaining book follows an American professor’s stay in Montenegro and his travels throughout the Balkans. Paul Dishman’s grandfather was from Montenegro but refused to say much about the homeland he left behind when he emigrated to America. The country and culture was a mystery to Paul, and he was determined to find out about this part of his heritage. This book is an enthralling and enchanting tale of culture shock, discovery and what it’s really like to be a foreigner in Crna Gora.

Culture and Customs of Serbia and Montenegro

Two kisses on the cheek or three? A handshake or a hug? Figuring out basic pleasantries in any new country can be plagued by awkwardness. Despite being two separate countries, Serbia and Montenegro’s language, customs and culture are inextricably linked. Culture and Customs of Serbia and Montenegro covers the dos and don’ts of these two countries, and will help any new visitor navigate social situations without incident.

A Hero on a Donkey

A Hero on a Donkey was written in 1967 by Miodrag Bulatovic, a Montenegrin author whose books were known for their black humour. Set during World War II in Montenegro, the story follows a saloon keeper called Malic. Skinny and shabby, he’s the antithesis of a war hero, but he doesn’t let that stop him as he joins the Communist cause to defeat the Italian invaders. Unfortunately, Malic is by turns ignored, tricked and ridiculed by both sides. As with most Balkan stories, don’t expect a happy end.

The Mountain Wreath

This classic book was written by Bishop Petar Petrovic-Njegos, who ruled Montenegro from 1830 until his death in 1851. He’s lauded in Montenegro for his modesty, and for taming a tribal and feuding Montenegro and dragging it into the 19th century. He was also a philosopher and poet, and The Mountain Wreath is his poem and play about the three distinct cultures prevalent in Montenegro at the time: traditional patriarchal Montenegrin culture, the Islamic Ottoman Turks and Western Venetian culture. Considered a masterpiece by Serbs and Montenegrins alike, The Mountain Wreath is an excellent insight into the history and culture of Montenegrin society.

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