68 books like Areopagitica and Other Writings

By John Milton,

Here are 68 books that Areopagitica and Other Writings fans have personally recommended if you like Areopagitica and Other Writings. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Politics and the English Language

Ben Hutchinson Author Of On Purpose: Ten Lessons on the Meaning of Life

From my list on essays to help us think for ourselves.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an essayist, literary critic, and professor of literature, books are what John Milton calls my ‘pretious life-blood.’ As a writer, teacher, and editor, I spend my days trying to make meaning out of reading. This is the idea behind my most recent book, On Purpose: it’s easy to make vague claims about the edifying powers of ‘great writing,’ but what does this actually mean? How can literature help us live? My five recommendations all help us reflect on the power of books to help us think for ourselves, as I hope do my own books, including The Midlife Mind (2020) and Comparative Literature: A Very Short Introduction (2018).

Ben's book list on essays to help us think for ourselves

Ben Hutchinson Why did Ben love this book?

What I like about Orwell is that he is uncompromising. His fiction, such as Animal Farm and 1984, is very well known, but some of his essays have been just as influential.

This is probably the most important one, in which Orwell makes a case for clarity and concision as the guiding principles of communication. Language is both cause and effect of meaning: it "becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier to have foolish thoughts."

Good writing, Orwell suggests, helps us retain freshness of thought; bad writing, conversely, deadens our sensibilities. Linguistic precision, in other words, is "not the exclusive concern of professional writers." We should all be concerned by cliché.

By George Orwell,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Politics and the English Language as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Politics and the English Language' is widely considered Orwell's most important essay on style. Style, for Orwell, was never simply a question of aesthetics; it was always inextricably linked to politics and to truth.'All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer.'Language is a political issue, and slovenly use of language and cliches make it easier for those in power to deliberately use misleading language to hide unpleasant political facts. Bad English, he believed, was a vehicle for oppressive ideology, and it is…


Book cover of A Room Of One's Own

Ben Hutchinson Author Of On Purpose: Ten Lessons on the Meaning of Life

From my list on essays to help us think for ourselves.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an essayist, literary critic, and professor of literature, books are what John Milton calls my ‘pretious life-blood.’ As a writer, teacher, and editor, I spend my days trying to make meaning out of reading. This is the idea behind my most recent book, On Purpose: it’s easy to make vague claims about the edifying powers of ‘great writing,’ but what does this actually mean? How can literature help us live? My five recommendations all help us reflect on the power of books to help us think for ourselves, as I hope do my own books, including The Midlife Mind (2020) and Comparative Literature: A Very Short Introduction (2018).

Ben's book list on essays to help us think for ourselves

Ben Hutchinson Why did Ben love this book?

I love this book not just because of its enduring importance - Woolf remains a towering feminist figure - but because of its vivid, imaginative writing.

Based on lectures given to female students at Cambridge, Woolf’s essay argues powerfully for the intellectual independence of women. Such independence, she reasons, must first be materially possible, hence the female writer’s need for that famous "room of one’s own."

To exemplify this, Woolf imagines a certain Judith Shakespeare, the playwright’s equally talented sister: would she not be incapable of achieving the same success as her brother owing to the patriarchal structures of society? In our post-Me Too world a century later, the question remains vital.

By Virginia Woolf,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked A Room Of One's Own as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization, and helped make us who we are.


Book cover of The Essays of Montaigne

Ben Hutchinson Author Of On Purpose: Ten Lessons on the Meaning of Life

From my list on essays to help us think for ourselves.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an essayist, literary critic, and professor of literature, books are what John Milton calls my ‘pretious life-blood.’ As a writer, teacher, and editor, I spend my days trying to make meaning out of reading. This is the idea behind my most recent book, On Purpose: it’s easy to make vague claims about the edifying powers of ‘great writing,’ but what does this actually mean? How can literature help us live? My five recommendations all help us reflect on the power of books to help us think for ourselves, as I hope do my own books, including The Midlife Mind (2020) and Comparative Literature: A Very Short Introduction (2018).

Ben's book list on essays to help us think for ourselves

Ben Hutchinson Why did Ben love this book?

Writing in the sixteenth century, Montaigne essentially created the modern ‘essai’ as we know it. What I love about his writing, erudite though it is, is that there is nothing dry about it: his subject was himself, which is to say, by extension, ourselves.

Mixing references both Christian and Classical, learned and personal, Montaigne explores subjects ranging from cowardice to thumbs, and solitude to smells. In inventing the essay as a way of understanding ourselves, Montaigne invented our age of narcissism: ‘I have never seen a greater monster or miracle than myself.’

Book cover of Self-Reliance and Other Essays

Mechal Renee Roe Author Of I'm Growing Great

From my list on expanding your inner vision and allowing life to rush in.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is Mechal Roe and I have loved creating fun and colorful art to inspire the inner child in all of us. I began my journey in children's print design and worked my way up to Clothing Designer. It was quite rewarding, and I learned so much. After, I left to create a children's book and toys to serve underrepresented youth. Creating the book was a form of introspection to move me along my heart's path. It was also a gift to those young ones who also struggle with understanding themselves in the world. 

Mechal's book list on expanding your inner vision and allowing life to rush in

Mechal Renee Roe Why did Mechal love this book?

I recommend this book because it had a great influence on me as a young child. Moving through the world, particularly as a black woman, requires a great deal of self-reliance and resourcefulness. This book/essay speaks to universal truths that are often forgotten.

I found myself equipping my toolbox with quotes that have been relevant to my present day working life. I learned how to relate in a deeper way to myself and society while crafting a value system that, as I age, is allowed to become malleable.

By Ralph Waldo Emerson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Self-Reliance and Other Essays as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Ralph Waldo Emerson's essays and poems on the transcendental movement in the United States became some of the most important literary pieces in American History. In this culmination of essays, Emerson takes the reader through different forms of philosophies that attempt to explain the world and man's purpose within it.

Heavily vested in the philosophy of transcendentalism, though not one to label himself a true follower of the movement, Emerson believed that spirituality and wholeness were central to the ways in which humans could place themselves within nature. Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson is a collection of integral works that…


Book cover of Mortal Sight

Davis Bunn Author Of Island of Time

From my list on urban fantasy that bend time and reality.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first mentor was Arthur C Clarke, the science fiction megastar. I’ve always been drawn to epic fantasy, science fiction, and techno-thrillers. Stories that push the boundaries of reality. While I’ve been a professional author for over thirty years in multiple genres, I keep returning to speculative fiction, much of which is published under my pen name “Thomas Locke”. I serve as Writer In Residence at the University of Oxford. In writing Island of Time, my aim was to apply a classical heroic structure to neartime fantasy. Use the naturally occurring elements of light and dark, good and evil, and magnify them by adding magic to this world.

Davis' book list on urban fantasy that bend time and reality

Davis Bunn Why did Davis love this book?

Should an angsty teen girl (or her mom) be relieved when she’s taken under the wing of an eccentric art dealer?

After all, not many people make seventeen-year-old Cera Marlowe feel understood. She’s too into poetry and art and suffers from seizures… The mystery in Mortal Sight is of a much more personal nature than the other books on this list.
While this urban fantasy tale is young adult, the blend of modern-day with ancient mythology drew me in and I was reminded of my own childhood. I enjoyed the concept of a girl with a mysterious past and a dangerous destiny awakening to her true identity – all accompanied by lines of Milton in her head that help her to navigate her strange new world.

By Sandra Fernandez Rhoads,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mortal Sight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

When Worlds Collide, Shadow Wrestles Light

Seventeen-year-old Cera Marlowe wants a normal life; one where she and her mom can stop skipping town every time a disturbing vision strikes. But when a girl she knows is murdered by a monster she can't explain, Cera's world turns upside down.

Suddenly thrown into an ancient supernatural battle, Cera discovers she's not alone in her gifting and vows to use her visions to save lives. But why does John Milton's poem Paradise Lost keep interrupting her thoughts?

In a race against time and a war against unearthly creatures, will decoding messages embedded in…


Book cover of To Reign in Hell

Mike Vasich Author Of Loki

From my list on vikings, heresy, and general mayhem.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mike Vasich has a lifelong obsession with stories about gods, superheroes, and giant monsters, and he has been inflicting them on 7th and 8th graders for the better part of 20 years. He wrote his first book, Loki, so he could cram them all into one book and make them beat up on each other. He enjoys (fictional) mayhem, sowing disrespect for revered institutions, and taking naps. 

Mike's book list on vikings, heresy, and general mayhem

Mike Vasich Why did Mike love this book?

The title is taken from the John Milton poem, Paradise Lost: “Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n,” and tells the story of the War in Heaven before the Creation from the point of view of the bad guys. So basically, we get the Devils’ (not a typo, by the way) point of view, and, like in Milton (arguably), they are the heroes of the story. Instead of the classic two-dimensional villains who exist solely to oppose the hero, Brust flushes them out so well that you can’t help but root for them. Nor can you understand why anybody would like this God dude or his weird ‘son’, Jesus. The devils in question are Satan and Lucifer, curiously split into two characters for this story, which provides further opportunities for plot and character development.

By Steven Brust,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked To Reign in Hell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos novels (Dragon) and his swashbuckling tales of Khaavren (THE PHOENIX GUARDS and FIVE HUNDRED YEARS AFTER) have earned him an enthusiastic audience worldwide. But TO REIGN IN HELL, his famous novel that does for the epic of Satan's rebellion what Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light did for Hindu myth, has been out of print for years - causing used copies to trade for improbable sums. Now, at last, TO REIGN IN HELL returns to print in a paperback edition, with an introduction by Roger Zelazny.


Book cover of By Love Divided

Anna Belfrage Author Of In the Shadow of the Storm

From my list on gritty historical fiction with a pinch of love.

Why am I passionate about this?

Give me a castle ruin or guide me through ancient Roman mosaics and you make my day. Accordingly, my preferred reading is historical fiction. I read (and review) lots of it, like 100 books/year. I am also ridiculously romantic. I want there to be some heart with the blood and war, I want characters I can root for despite the horrifying odds facing them. I want protagonists that step out of the past to drag me back with them. When I read, these are the books I choose. When I write, these are the books I aspire to create—Romantic Historical Fiction, if you will.

Anna's book list on gritty historical fiction with a pinch of love

Anna Belfrage Why did Anna love this book?

I have a passion for the 17th century and this novel based on actual diaries and letters from IRL people living through the realities of the English Civil War is a favourite. Ms. St. John writes about her own ancestors, and she imbues her characters with so much life, so many contrary opinions. These are difficult times, and especially for mother Lucy St. John whose son is a through-and-through royalist while daughter Luce is head-over-heels in love with Parliamentarian John Hutchinson. Luce is utterly fascinating: intelligent and with a passion to truly reform, she never loses her humanity or her ability for compassion. This novel is a real treat for anyone desiring well-researched historical fiction – with the added benefit of having a spoonful or two of love to complicate things! 

By Elizabeth St. John,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

”A fantastic read." Editor’s Choice, Historical Novel Society

London, 1630. Widowed and destitute, Lucy St.John is fighting for survival and makes a terrible choice to secure a future for her children. Worse still, her daughter Luce rejects the royal court and a wealthy arranged marriage, and falls in love with a charismatic soldier. As England tumbles toward bloody civil war, Luce’s beloved brother Allen chooses to fight for the king as a cavalier. Allen and Luce are swept up in the chaos of war as they defend their opposing causes and protect those they love.

Will war unite or divide…


Book cover of Grand Quarrel: Women's Memoirs of the English Civil War

Tim Pears Author Of The Redeemed

From my list on memories of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I dig deep for research for my novels and am entranced by history. It is the soil we grow from; without a sense of history, we have shallow roots. Many history books, however, are academic and tedious. Accounts by living witnesses – from interviews, letters, diaries – bring the past to life with vivid detail.

Tim's book list on memories of war

Tim Pears Why did Tim love this book?

A compilation of memoirs and letters by six women from the English Civil War. Immersed in research for a novel, I was up to my ears in pamphlets and battlefields, troop movements, and religious schism; I opened The Grand Quarrel and began reading Brilliana, Lady Harley’s letters to her son at Oxford. (‘I have sent you some juice of liquorice, which you may keep to make use of, if you should have a cold.’)The past was suddenly refreshed.

By Roger Hudson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This work draws together the memoirs of women involved in the English Civil War, on both sides. The accounts of wives and daughters provide an insight into women's experiences of the time for general reader and historian alike. They include the Duchess of Newcastle (who has been called "the first English woman writer") on her husband's role at the battle of Marston Moor in 1644; royalist Lucy Hutchinson, whose writing has the immediacy of a diary; Ann Fanshawe's memoirs of 1676, written so a son could know a father killed in battle (and valued by Virginia Woolf for their "candour…


Book cover of The Children of the New Forest

Stella Riley Author Of The Black Madonna

From my list on books set in 17th century England.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of sixteen novels—six of them set in the mid-seventeenth century. The English Civil Wars and their aftermath is a period very close to my heartcombining as it does fascinating personalities, incredibly complicated politics, and all the drama and bloodshed of civil conflict. My greatest pleasure has been finding and featuring real men whose names are now largely forgotten.

Stella's book list on books set in 17th century England

Stella Riley Why did Stella love this book?

First published in 1847, the writing style seems somewhat ponderous these days. I read it when I was about twelve—and this is where I discovered the English Civil War. It begins in 1647 and tells the story of four children who, their home burned by Parliamentary soldiers, flee to hide in the forest during a time of danger, persecution, and war. Its bias is unashamedly Royalist but that isn’t necessarily a flaw.

By Frederick Marryat,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Children of the New Forest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.


Book cover of The King's General

Stella Riley Author Of The Black Madonna

From my list on books set in 17th century England.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of sixteen novels—six of them set in the mid-seventeenth century. The English Civil Wars and their aftermath is a period very close to my heartcombining as it does fascinating personalities, incredibly complicated politics, and all the drama and bloodshed of civil conflict. My greatest pleasure has been finding and featuring real men whose names are now largely forgotten.

Stella's book list on books set in 17th century England

Stella Riley Why did Stella love this book?

Set in Cornwall, before and during the Civil War, this is a terrific tale based upon the lives of real people—most notably, perhaps, Sir Richard Grenville the King’s General in the West. It’s the story of the Rashleigh Family and Menabilly—where Daphne du Maurier herself lived.

Well written as one would expect of du Maurier—it’s a beautiful story, beautifully told; absorbing, exciting and hard to put down.

By Daphne du Maurier,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The King's General as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inspired by a grisly discovery in the nineteenth century, The King's General was the first of du Maurier's novels to be written at Menabilly, the model for Manderley in Rebecca. Set in the seventeenth century, it tells the story of a country and a family riven by civil war, and features one of fiction's most original heroines. Honor Harris is only eighteen when she first meets Richard Grenvile, proud, reckless - and utterly captivating. But following a riding accident, Honor must reconcile herself to a life alone. As Richard rises through the ranks of the army, marries and makes enemies,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the English Civil War, authoritarianism, and presidential biography?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the English Civil War, authoritarianism, and presidential biography.

The English Civil War Explore 16 books about the English Civil War
Authoritarianism Explore 46 books about authoritarianism
Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography