10 books like 1421

By Gavin Menzies,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like 1421. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Chinese Clothing

By Hua Mei,

Book cover of Chinese Clothing

So you wish to paint your lips red like ancient Chinese women but are worried about confusing your Tang from your Ming. Get your make-up right with this manual. This succinct and wonderfully illustrated book is a treasure for lovers of Chinese fashion history or historical novelists like myself who may not be fluent in mandarin and depend on English publications. Creating vivid descriptions of concubines or Ming court characters is made easy when you can visualise exactly how people dressed or painted their faces during the different periods of China’s long history, including the Ming dynasty. I loved this book as it informed me about hairstyles, make-up, shoes, hats, clothing, and even the different insignias embroidered on eunuch clothing depending on their rank. With attention to variations across ethnicities and insights on historical and social changes, this book is a must-have.  

Chinese Clothing

By Hua Mei,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Chinese clothing has undergone continuous transformations throughout history, providing a reflection of the culture in place at any given time. A wealth of archaeological findings coupled with ancient mythology, poetry and songs enable us to see the development of distinctive Chinese fashions through the ages. This illustrated introductory survey takes the reader through traditional Chinese clothing, ornamentation and ceremonial wear, discusses the importance of silk and the diverse costumes of China's ethnic groups before considering modern trends and China's place in the fashion world today.


Naxi Dongba Pictograph Dictionary

By He Pinzheng,

Book cover of Naxi Dongba Pictograph Dictionary

While researching the Ming dynasty and its tea horse trade, I had the joy of traveling to Lijiang in China’s Yunnan province. Lijiang is home to the Naxi (or Nakhi) whose Mu clan rose in prominence during the Ming dynasty. The Naxi people are unique in that they employ the world’s only living pictographic writing system. 

This tiny dictionary is filled with pictographs and their meaning, both in English and in Mandarin. Pictographs are grouped by topics significant to the Naxi culture, such as behaviour, family life, housing, and plants. This book extends one’s view of China, a country which should not be perceived as purely populated by the Han ethnic majority. The common symbols employed in the Naxi language provide valuable insights into the Naxi value system.

Naxi Dongba Pictograph Dictionary

By He Pinzheng,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Naxi Dongba Pictograph Dictionary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Eunuchs in the Ming Dynasty

By Shih-Shan Henry Tsai,

Book cover of Eunuchs in the Ming Dynasty

My favorite Ming dynasty source. It is rich with details on the eunuch institution during the Ming dynasty including its supply chain— the parts of society and of the world where eunuchs were historically drawn. Described here, are the various agencies within the Beijing Forbidden City where Ming dynasty eunuchs worked: Carpentry, Palace Servants, Palace Foods, Royal Clothing, the Nursing Home, and others, including a Toilet Paper agency. Readers not only gain insights on the imperial palace’s operations, but also on the eunuch ranking system, the emperors’ policies concerning eunuchs, and the rise of powerful eunuchs in the Ming secret police (Eastern Depot) and in Ming diplomacy. The latter came to its apogee with Admiral Zheng He, himself a eunuch, leading the Ming fleet during seven world voyages.

Eunuchs in the Ming Dynasty

By Shih-Shan Henry Tsai,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Eunuchs in the Ming Dynasty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This study of Chinese eunuchs illuminates the entire history of the Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644, and provides broad information on various aspects of pre-modern China.


When China Ruled the Seas

By Louise Levathes,

Book cover of When China Ruled the Seas: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-1433

Another much-loved book about the Ming dynasty’s naval fleet but this time, all seven maritime expeditions led by Admiral Zheng He are dutifully described. It outlines the evolution in ancient Chinese ship construction which saw the development of the formidable Ming ‘treasure fleet’. The reader can explore the Chinese mariners’ lives and occupations at sea, their navigation techniques, Ming China’s world trade and its diplomatic relationships, and the Ming fleet’s fascinating destinations, including Champa (now South Vietnam), Sumatra, Kuli (Kozhikode in India), Mogadishu, Malindi, and Hormuz. Cultural and socio-political details relating to the period are seamlessly weaved into this account which closely follows the life and works of Admiral Zheng He.

When China Ruled the Seas

By Louise Levathes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When China Ruled the Seas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A hundred years before Columbus and his fellow Europeans began making their way to the New World, fleets of giant Chinese junks commanded by the eunuch admiral Zheng He and filled with the empire's finest porcelains, lacquerware, and silk ventured to the edge of the world's `four corners.' It was a time of exploration and conquest, but it ended in a retrenchment so complete that less than a century later, it was a crime to go to sea in a multimasted ship. In When
China Ruled the Seas, Louise Levathes takes a fascinating and unprecedented look at this dynamic period…


The Discovery of Jeanne Baret

By Glynis Ridley,

Book cover of The Discovery of Jeanne Baret: A Story of Science, the High Seas, and the First Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe

Another engrossing book that I’ve read several times, by a professor of English at the University of Louisville. Ridley relates the amazing true – but little knownstory of Jeanne Baret, the first woman to sail around the world. She did it disguised as a man in order to accompany her lover, a botanist called Philibert Commerson on a plant collecting expedition back in the 18th century. When they got to Brazil, Baret discovered the vine bougainvillea, which the pair named after the expedition leader, Count de Bougainville (with Commerson, of course, taking all the credit) and she endured incredible hardships keeping her identity secret from the male crew during the arduous voyage. Dried specimens of her finds can still be seen today at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris.

The Discovery of Jeanne Baret

By Glynis Ridley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Discovery of Jeanne Baret as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The year was 1765. Eminent botanist Philibert Commerson had just been appointed to a grand new expedition: the first French circumnavigation of the world. As the ships’ official naturalist, Commerson would seek out resources—medicines, spices, timber, food—that could give the French an edge in the ever-accelerating race for empire.
 
Jeanne Baret, Commerson’s young mistress and collaborator, was desperate not to be left behind. She disguised herself as a teenage boy and signed on as his assistant. The journey made the twenty-six-year-old, known to her shipmates as “Jean” rather than “Jeanne,” the first woman to ever sail around the globe. Yet…


Around the World in Eighty Days

By Jules Verne,

Book cover of Around the World in Eighty Days

After you remind yourself that this story is taking place in the year 1872 you can just sit back and have fun with it as you will come to see that it is a very clever story and true to the time period that it is set in. I advise that you should let your mind wander and you will very easily fall in love with the well-defined characters and the suspense of the story. Have we not all raced against time in our own lifetime? It is a really fun read, especially if you use your imagination to join in and that is why I believe that everybody should read this classic story at least once in their lifetime.

Around the World in Eighty Days

By Jules Verne,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Around the World in Eighty Days as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Some novels are considered classics of children literature, read by numerous generations of young readers who made them immortal. That is the case with Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, a true prototype for many later adventure tales. The thrilling race against time of eccentric Phileas Fogg and his manservant Passepartout, having to run around the planet to win a bet, is here presented in a modern and original way, thanks to the splendid drawings by Francesca Rossi, an artist able to capture the vivid atmosphere of the story.


How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World

By Marjorie Priceman,

Book cover of How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World

How To Make an Apple Pie and See The World is a whimsical book that starts by asserting that making apple pie is the easiest thing in the world. All you do is get the ingredients at the market then mix, bake, and serve… But what if the market is closed? In that case, adventure ensues! One travels the world to procure the ingredients—Italy, France, Sri Lanka, England, Jamaica, Vermont—and then you mix, bake, and serve.

The last spread of this wonderful picturebook features a round table and a gathering of friends eating apple pie—is there anything better?

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World

By Marjorie Priceman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bake a delicious apple pie--and take a trip with this culinary global adventure!

An apple pie is easy to make...if the market is open. But if the market is closed, the world becomes your grocery store. This picture book takes readers around the globe to gather ingredients for a delicious apple pie. First hop a steamboat to Italy for the finest semolina wheat. Then hitch a ride to England and hijack a cow for the freshest possible milk. And, oh yes! Don't forget to go apple picking in Vermont! A simple recipe for apple pie is included.


Girl on a Motorcycle

By Amy Novesky, Julie Morstad (illustrator),

Book cover of Girl on a Motorcycle

History is not only about famous people and kings and queens; it’s about all people, and how all lives were lived. This book presents one of the many remarkable people who live unremarked amongst us. It’s about the first woman to ride a motorcycle around the world, alone. That anybody can undertake such an adventure is something all children should know. That a woman did it deserves to be emphasized. But what I love best is how this story is told. The writing is lyrical, dreamy, and captures for me the magic carpet ride of travel. And I love how it’s interspersed with practical tips in high contrast—about how to change a tire, how to drink tea in India. The illustrations enhance the vibe. This book is a fabulous ride. 

Girl on a Motorcycle

By Amy Novesky, Julie Morstad (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Girl on a Motorcycle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A picture book biography by an award-winning team about the first woman to ride a motorcycle around the world

One day, a girl gets on her motorcycle and rides away. She wants to wander the world. To go . . . Elsewhere. This is the true story of the first woman to ride a motorcycle around the world alone. Each place has something to teach her. Each place is beautiful. And despite many flat tires and falls, she learns to always get back up and keep riding.

Award-winning author Amy Novesky and Governor General's Award-winning illustrator Julie Morstad have teamed…


Dove

By Robin L. Graham,

Book cover of Dove

Dove chronicles the story of a 16-year-old who sets off around the world on a tiny sailboat. For 5 years, while also covered by National Geographic, Robin tells his story of fighting storms, discovering new lands, and finding love. It’s an ultimate coming-of-age manifesto, full of inspiration and guts.

Dove

By Robin L. Graham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1965, 16-year-old Robin Lee Graham began a solo around-the-world voyage from San Pedro, California, in a 24-foot sloop. Five years and 33,000 miles later, he returned to home port with a wife and daughter and enough extraordinary experiences to fill this bestselling book, Dove.


Nala's World

By Garry Jenkins, Dean Nicholson,

Book cover of Nala's World: One Man, His Rescue Cat, and a Bike Ride Around the Globe

Nala's adventure shows how the love of an animal can change the trajectory of a man's life. Dean set out to explore the world on his bike. Along the way he met and fell head over wheels (!) with a kitten, whom he named Nala. Something about the piercing eyes and plaintive meowing of the bedraggled little cat proved irresistible. He couldn't leave her to her fate, so he put her on his bike and then, with the help of local vets, nursed her back to health. Soon on his travels, they forged an unbreakable bond -- both curious, independent, resilient and adventurous.

Nala's World

By Garry Jenkins, Dean Nicholson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nala's World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER**

'As a chronicle of an extraordinary friendship between man and animal, and its unexpected consequences, it's entirely delightful' DAILY MAIL

'This uplifting retelling of their adventures together proves a welcome tonic' THE SUN

'Heartwarming and utterly charming' GUARDIAN

'A heart-warming and captivating travelogue' THE i

'A gorgeous book about their adventures, complete with photos that will melt your heart' Lorraine Kelly, ITV

***

Instagram phenomenon @1bike1world Dean Nicholson reveals the full story of his life-changing friendship with rescue cat Nala and their inspiring adventures together on a bike journey around the world.

When 30-year-old Dean Nicholson…


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