Where once English-language sections of bookstores were dominated by ‘the war’, today an increasingly diverse range of titles do their bit to expose the different faces of the Polish capital.
Accompanied by the author’s own witty illustrations, Polish Pills views Warsaw through the eyes of a baffled foreigner, and faces the odd little conundrums that bamboozle us all: what makes all the old ladies so angry? Why don’t cashiers have change? And what’s with all the dubbing? Mischievous and original, it does more to lay Warsaw’s secrets bare than any guidebook out there.
That even Poles regard the British historian Norman Davies as the foremost chronicler of the nation’s history speaks volumes. While his epic retelling of the Warsaw Uprising lacks the verve and pace of many of his peers, few stones are left unturned in this magnum opus. At times complex and frustrating (not least due to the author’s irritating insistence on Anglicizing all Polish names), this is nonetheless a work of real merit.
Żol / Mok / Och / Sas
Produced by Centrum Architektury, this series of books zoom in on the individual suburbs of Żoliborz, Mokotów, Ochota and Saska Kępa. Presented in Polish and English, and accompanied by the illustrative renderings of Magdalena Piwowar, they offer exquisite, expert insight into the everyday buildings you might otherwise ignore.
London-based photographer Ilona Karwińska has worked tirelessly to bring attention to the fate of Polish Cold War-era neon. Having co-founded Warsaw’s Neon Museum, and published numerous titles dedicated to the topic, her latest book pours the spotlight on the capital’s own dalliance with luminescent advertising. “My personal fascination with neons,” says Karwińska, “stems not only from their photogenic nature, but as decaying objects that in some way reflect the transience of the human experience.”
Wawa Bla Bla
What began as a Facebook page documenting one expat’s love affair with Warsaw’s street art has grown into a book that charts the development of this burgeoning and at times secretive scene. And why not get a signed copy? Do so by visiting the author’s cult art store (also named Wawa Bla Bla) on ul. Dobra 15.