The best books on how historians work

Who am I?

Doing historical research and thinking about history is an essential part of my personality. During my life, many things changed: the language I speak most of the time, the country where I live, people closest to me, my views, tastes, and habits. Ancient history and its research remain my vocation, job, and place of safety from early youth till nowadays. I am grateful to all people, long dead and living, whose insights on the study of the human past have taught me not only how to do research, but first and foremost how to live.


I wrote...

Book cover of Divine Mania: Alteration of Consciousness in Ancient Greece

What is my book about?

Ancient Greek mania presents a fascinating array of diverse conditions. Any deviation from ordinary state of consciousness, voluntary or involuntary, intense or mild, could be labelled mania. Diverse altered states of consciousness were commonly known: initiates underwent alteration of consciousness during mystery rites; sacred officials and inquirers experienced them in oracular centres; possession by various deities was recognized; finally, some sages and philosophers practiced manipulation of consciousness.

Greece was unique in its attitude to these phenomena. From the perspective of individual and public freedom, the importance of mania in the Greek society reflects its openness and acceptance of the human proclivity to experience alterations of consciousness, which were interpreted as god-sent. These mental states were treated with cautious respect; they could be harnessed to a certain extent, but never suppressed or pushed to the cultural and social periphery, in contrast to the majority of other complex societies, ancient and modern.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Passion for History: Conversations with Denis Crouzet

Yulia Ustinova Why did I love this book?

A Passion for History is a conversation between Natalie Zemon Davis, a prominent historian and an extraordinary woman, with Denis Crouzet, also a historian and a sharp observer. Above all, they discuss how to do research, write, and teach history. In addition, Natalie Zemon Davis shares her memories of being an ambitious Jewish girl in America of the 40s and her way to combine academic aspirations with family life, and her views on other subjects, such as politics, feminism, cinema, and freedom. This lively dialogue of two remarkable intellectuals is a thrilling read.

By Natalie Zemon Davis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Passion for History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The pathbreaking work of renowned historian Natalie Zemon Davis has added profoundly to our understanding of early modern society and culture. She rescues men and women from oblivion using her unique combination of rich imagination, keen intelligence, and archival sleuthing to uncover the past. Davis brings to life a dazzling cast of extraordinary people, revealing their thoughts, emotions, and choices in the world in which they lived. Thanks to Davis we can meet the impostor Arnaud du Tilh in her classic, The Return of Martin Guerre, follow three remarkable lives in Women on the Margins, and journey alongside a traveler…


Book cover of An Autobiography

Yulia Ustinova Why did I love this book?

In a biography of a person whose occupation was to think, the most exciting part is how their thought evolved. Robin G. Collingwood is a prominent philosopher and a historian of Roman Britain. His autobiography is precious because it is an earnest reflection on how his perception of history and the approaches to its study developed over his lifetime - a door open into the mind of a philosopher of history.

By R.G. Collingwood,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Autobiography as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An Autobiography


Book cover of The Historian’s Craft

Yulia Ustinova Why did I love this book?

Apology of History, or the Historian’s Craft is the exact translation of the French title of this book, written in 1941-42 by Marc Bloch, a great historian who was executed in 1944 as a member of the French Resistance. In his testament, Marc Block wished two words to be incised on his tombstone: dilexit veritatem (‘he loved the truth). The book is about the technique of understanding the present by means of studying the past. The fact that Apology of History, or the Historian’s Craft was written in the midst of the war explains the original title. The ultimate defense of history is that proper research allows comprehension of complex human situations, such as wars, therefore every detail of the historian’s craft is of profound importance.

By Marc Bloch,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Historian’s Craft as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work, by the co-founder of the "Annales School" deals with the uses and methods of history. It is useful for students of history, teachers of historiography and all those interested in the writings of the Annales school.


Book cover of What Is History?

Yulia Ustinova Why did I love this book?

This book is a classic, for more than half a century, and remains the starting point in the current discussion of the historian’s craft. Edward H. Carr underscores the importance of dialogue in the study of history. History is a process of interaction between the historian and their facts, or between the past and the present. In this dialogue, the historian is not an objective reporter or analyst, but an individual whose world view and scientific approach are shaped by society.

By Edward Hallet Carr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked What Is History? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Not only our most distinguished historian but also one of the most valuable contributors to historical theory' Spectator

In answering the question, 'what is history?', E. H. Carr's acclaimed and influential bestseller shows that the facts of history are simply those which the historian selects for scrutiny. His fluent and hugely wide-ranging account of the nature of history and the role of the historian argues that all history is to some degree subjective, written by individuals who are above all people of their own time.

'Lively and controversial, full of wit and humour, E. H. Carr's What Is History? played…


Book cover of In Defense of History

Yulia Ustinova Why did I love this book?

This book is a reflection on the nature of historical research and the perils of history in the postmodern age. An influential current in the study of history has abandoned the aspiration of getting close to the truth and accepts ideologically motivated accounts of the past as equally valuable narratives. The repercussions of the controversy on ‘post-truth’ reach far beyond the limits of the academic world and are ubiquitous in contemporary Western society. Richard J. Evans knows that from his own experience, having served as an expert witness in Irwing v Penguin Books and Lipstadt libel case, relating to Holocaust denial. The book offers a lucid analysis of the conflicting trends in the theory and practice of historical research. It links between the study of the past and the possibility of attaining certainty on present-day issues.

By Richard J. Evans,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Defense of History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

E. H. Carr's What Is History?, a classic introduction to the field, may now give way to a worthy successor. In his compact, intriguing survey, Richard J. Evans shows us how historians manage to extract meaning from the recalcitrant past. To materials that are frustratingly meager, or overwhelmingly profuse, they bring an array of tools that range from agreed-upon rules of documentation and powerful computer models to the skilled investigator's sudden insight, all employed with the aim of reconstructing a verifiable, usable past. Evans defends this commitment to historical knowledge from the attacks of postmodernist critics who see all judgments…


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A Daily Dose of Now: 365 Mindfulness Meditation Practices for Living in the Moment

By Nita Sweeney,

Book cover of A Daily Dose of Now: 365 Mindfulness Meditation Practices for Living in the Moment

Nita Sweeney Author Of How to Make Every Move a Meditation: Mindful Movement for Mental Health, Well-Being, and Insight

New book alert!

Who am I?

As a thirty-year meditator, certified meditation leader, and award-winning author, it’s my job to keep up on the latest books about mindfulness and Zen practice. Despite seeing new volumes being published regularly, I return to these books as great sources of solid practice information. Each of these authors explains meditation in accessible terms, easy for readers to follow and understand. I can’t remember who said that a confused reader is an antagonistic reader, but they are right. The books I’ve suggested offer clarity. They help readers begin or continue their practice and understand how and why meditation is worth their time.

Nita's book list on why meditation is worth your time and effort

What is my book about?

Reduce stress, ease anxiety, and increase inner peace—one day at a time—with a year of easy-to-follow mindfulness meditation techniques. Certified mindfulness teacher, bestselling author, ultramarathoner, wife, and dog-mom Nita Sweeney shares mindfulness meditation practices to help anyone break free from worry and self-judgment.

Mindfulness meditation trains you to live in the present moment—the now. Feel calmer. Think more clearly. Respond more effectively and enjoy a more fulfilling life. Even in tiny doses, mindfulness is scientifically proven to enhance physical and mental health, boost creativity, and improve cognition function.

A Daily Dose of Now: 365 Mindfulness Meditation Practices for Living in the Moment

By Nita Sweeney,


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in historiography, philosophy, and France?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about historiography, philosophy, and France.

Historiography Explore 40 books about historiography
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