Estonia: Recommended Books and Movies

By Rick Steves

To learn about Estonia past and present, check out a few of these books and films. (And see our similar lists for elsewhere in Europe.)


  • Children of Ash and Elm: A History of the Vikings (Neil Price, 2020). Drawing on extensive archaeological and textual evidence, this is an engaging guide to the Viking world.
  • The Czar's Madman (Jaan Kross, 1992). Accused of insanity, a nobleman from the Livonian region of Estonia is subsequently monitored and scrutinized by his family.
  • Purge (Sofi Oksanen, 2010). Oskanen explores the Soviet occupation of Estonia and postwar suffering in this powerful novel about two women who reconcile their violent pasts.
  • Scandinavia Since 1500 (Byron J. Nordstrom, 2000). Nordstrom presents a readable account of the region's history.
  • Scandinavian Folk and Fairy Tales (Claire Booss, 1988). This collection of Scandinavian folklore includes illustrations by local artists.
  • Treading Air (Jaan Kross, 1998). This novel follows the life of protagonist Ullo Paerand, from the 1920s through the Soviet occupation of Estonia.
  • Truth and Justice (Anton Hansen Tammsaare, 1926). In one of the cornerstones of Estonian literature, Tammsaare draws from his own life to describe Estonia's evolution into an independent state.


  • Autumn Ball (2007). Based on the novel by Mati Unt, this film explores the isolation of six disparate people living in a Soviet-era apartment complex.
  • The Singing Revolution (2006). This documentary follows the evolution of Estonian music as a form of peaceful protest and symbol of patriotism.
  • Spring (1969). Set in a small town boarding school, this coming-of-age story is an Estonian classic.