100 books like As Above, So Below

By Rudy Rucker,

Here are 100 books that As Above, So Below fans have personally recommended if you like As Above, So Below. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Girl with a Pearl Earring

Rebecca D'Harlingue Author Of The Map Colorist

From my list on 17th-century women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I find the seventeenth century fascinating, and both of my novels are set in that period. The century was a time of great flux, and I am especially interested in exploring the kinds of things that women might have done, even though their accomplishments weren’t recorded. There is a wonderful article by novelist Rachel Kadish called “Writing the Lives of Forgotten Women,” in which she refers to Hilary Mantel’s comments that people whose lives are not recorded fall through the sieve of history. Kadish says that, “Lives have run through the sieve, but we can catch them with our hands.” These novels all attempt to do that.

Rebecca's book list on 17th-century women

Rebecca D'Harlingue Why did Rebecca love this book?

This book was a phenomenon when it came out, and with good reason.

Chevalier’s words paint a picture of the life of a young girl, Griet, who is working in the house of the artist, Johannes Vermeer in 1660s Delft. In the novel, Griet is the model for the famous painting. The relationship between artist and model, and what they do, and don’t, mean to each other, is complex and intriguing.

The way that Chevalier depicts the restrained interactions between the two seems to mimic Vermeer’s restrained yet visually detailed style.

By Tracy Chevalier,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Girl with a Pearl Earring as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling novel by the author of A Single Thread and At the Edge of the Orchard

Translated into thirty-nine languages and made into an Oscar-nominated film, starring Scarlett Johanson and Colin Firth

Tracy Chevalier transports readers to a bygone time and place in this richly-imagined portrait of the young woman who inspired one of Vermeer's most celebrated paintings.

History and fiction merge seamlessly in this luminous novel about artistic vision and sensual awakening. Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the story of sixteen-year-old Griet, whose life is transformed by her brief encounter with genius . .…


Book cover of The Art Forger

Elisabeth M. Lee Author Of Young PRB: A Novel of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

From my list on artists by non-artists.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a history major and artist I noticed a style of illustrations and paintings that popped up in history books, novels, and poetry collections. I found that the paintings and drawings were just scratching the surface. The lives and struggles of the artists known as Pre-Raphaelites were just as intriguing as the art. I have traveled to the many locations that the Pre-Raphaelites frequented to follow in their footsteps. I've even tried to copy their wet white painting style and was awed by the patience they must have had. I appreciate many art styles and enjoy being transported into the lives of the artists by authors as interested in art and history as I am. 

Elisabeth's book list on artists by non-artists

Elisabeth M. Lee Why did Elisabeth love this book?

Art forgery has always fascinated me. The idea that you can create a 'new' work by an old master and then, maybe, get away with it. Claire is a struggling artist whose one chance at fame had been stolen by a lover. Reduced to painting reproductions of famous paintings for clients to hang in their home she is approached by an art dealer to secretly forge a Degas painting. The money is good enough to silence her scruples and when the painting arrives she immediately recognizes that it is one of the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. Already she is having doubts but after beginning her study of the painting she suspects that it, too, is a forgery. Forged art has never been so compelling.

By B.A. Shapiro,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Art Forger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Almost twenty-five years after the infamous art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum - still the largest unsolved art theft in history - one of the stolen Degas paintings is delivered to the Boston studio of a young artist. Claire Roth has entered into a Faustian bargain with a powerful gallery owner by agreeing to forge the Degas in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But as she begins her work, she starts to suspect that this long-missing masterpiece - the very one that had been hanging at the Gardner for one hundred years - may…


Book cover of The Flanders Panel

Elisabeth M. Lee Author Of Young PRB: A Novel of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

From my list on artists by non-artists.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a history major and artist I noticed a style of illustrations and paintings that popped up in history books, novels, and poetry collections. I found that the paintings and drawings were just scratching the surface. The lives and struggles of the artists known as Pre-Raphaelites were just as intriguing as the art. I have traveled to the many locations that the Pre-Raphaelites frequented to follow in their footsteps. I've even tried to copy their wet white painting style and was awed by the patience they must have had. I appreciate many art styles and enjoy being transported into the lives of the artists by authors as interested in art and history as I am. 

Elisabeth's book list on artists by non-artists

Elisabeth M. Lee Why did Elisabeth love this book?

An art mystery, a murder mystery. What more could you ask for?

In Madrid, a noted art restorer Julia has received a painting that is itself an intriguing mystery. A fifteenth-century Flemish painting of a Knight and a Duke playing chess. Julia finds hidden under the paint the inscription Who Killed the Knight? That is a secret that was not meant to be revealed. This book is pre-internet so research is leg work. A cast of devious and delightful characters help and hinder Julia's quest to find the answers she seeks and try to avoid becoming a victim of her curiosity. I love the descriptions of art restoration, the ambiance, and the night owl lifestyle of the characters. 

By Arturo Perez-Reverte, Margaret Jull Costa (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The clue to a murder in the art world of contemporary Madrid lies hidden in a medieval painting of a game of chess.

In a 15th-century Flemish painting two noblemen are pictured playing chess. Yet two years before he could sit for the portrait, one of them was murdered. In 20th-century Madrid, Julia, a picture restorer preparing the painting for auction, uncovers a hidden inscription in Latin that points to the crime: Quis necavit equitem? Who killed the knight? But as she teams up with a brilliant chess theoretician to retrace the moves, she discovers the deadly game is not…


Book cover of Beauty in Thorns

Elisabeth M. Lee Author Of Young PRB: A Novel of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

From my list on artists by non-artists.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a history major and artist I noticed a style of illustrations and paintings that popped up in history books, novels, and poetry collections. I found that the paintings and drawings were just scratching the surface. The lives and struggles of the artists known as Pre-Raphaelites were just as intriguing as the art. I have traveled to the many locations that the Pre-Raphaelites frequented to follow in their footsteps. I've even tried to copy their wet white painting style and was awed by the patience they must have had. I appreciate many art styles and enjoy being transported into the lives of the artists by authors as interested in art and history as I am. 

Elisabeth's book list on artists by non-artists

Elisabeth M. Lee Why did Elisabeth love this book?

After the Impressionists and Vincent Van Gogh, the artists that come easily in third place for fictional ink spilled about them are the Pre-Raphaelites. Their personal lives are as colorful as their artwork. Australian Kate Forsyth has tackled the second phase of Pre-Raphaelitism led by Edward Burne-Jones's mythological and Arthurian paintings and William Morris's designs for furniture, wallpaper, and book art. The love lives of the artists, wives, models, and daughters find their way interwoven in the story of the art. Gabriel Rossetti, who was a major figure of the first phase of Pre-Raphaeltisim, is the flint that ignites the second phase. They all want to live in the dreams of the past, and of legends, but real life is never a fairy tale.

By Kate Forsyth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A spellbinding reimagining of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ set amongst the wild bohemian circle of Pre-Raphaelite artists and poets.

The Pre-Raphaelites were determined to liberate art and love from the shackles of convention.

Ned Burne-Jones had never had a painting lesson and his family wanted him to be a parson. Only young Georgie Macdonald – the daughter of a Methodist minister – understood. She put aside her own dreams to support him, only to be confronted by many years of gossip and scandal.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti was smitten with his favourite model, Lizzie Siddal. She wanted to be an artist herself, but…


Book cover of Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe

Brian D. Cohen Author Of Bestiary: A Book of Animal Poems & Prints

From my list on illustrated stories for grown-ups.

Why am I passionate about this?

I make prints and visual books. I founded Bridge Press, now in Kennebunk, Maine, 1989 to publish limited edition artist's books and etchings. The name of the press underscores the collaborative nature of book making. Visual books offered possibilities for the continuity, connection, and unfolding of images—each image is complete yet linked to every other through the structure of the book. Books seemed an ideal vehicle to assemble and connect my prints, to order and unfold a sequence of images, with defined and recurrent shapes, motifs, and composition, and to create a setting in which each image is complete yet linked to every other through the structure of the binding or enclosure.

Brian's book list on illustrated stories for grown-ups

Brian D. Cohen Why did Brian love this book?

The advent of the exactly repeatable pictorial statement is arguably the most significant technological and cultural innovation in the history of humankind. This book examines in detail the contributions to scientific knowledge made by significant Renaissance artists, Hans Holbein, Albrecht Dürer, and Hendrick Goltzius principally among them. In addition to reproducing woodcuts, engravings, and etchings, the book depicts various complex forms of paper engineering from the Renaissance that acted as scientific instruments, maps, simulacra, or utile devices in themselves. 

By Susan Dackerman (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An unusual collaboration among distinguished art historians and historians of science, this book demonstrates how printmakers of the Northern Renaissance, far from merely illustrating the ideas of others, contributed to scientific investigations of their time. Hans Holbein, for instance, worked with cosmographers and instrument makers on some of the earliest sundial manuals published; Albrecht Durer produced the first printed maps of the constellations, which astronomers copied for over a century; and Hendrick Goltzius's depiction of the muscle-bound Hercules served as a study aid for students of anatomy. Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe features fascinating reproductions…


Book cover of Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England

Malcolm Gaskill Author Of Witchfinders: A Seventeenth-Century English Tragedy

From my list on witch hunting in Britain and Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an Emeritus Professor of Early Modern History at the University of East Anglia and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. I taught history for many years at several UK universities, and I was the Director of Studies in History at Churchill College, Cambridge. I am the author of six books, including Hellish Nell: Last of Britain’s Witches and Witchcraft: A Very Short Introduction. His latest book, The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World, will be published in November by Penguin. I live in Cambridge, England, and I am married with three children.

Malcolm's book list on witch hunting in Britain and Europe

Malcolm Gaskill Why did Malcolm love this book?

Originally published in 1970, this was another foundational text for me and other witchcraft scholars of my generation.

It grew out of Macfarlane’s doctoral thesis focusing on Essex, which had been supervised by Keith Thomas, whose own great book, Religion and the Decline of Magic (much of which dealt with witches), came out the following year. Even then, the historian Macfarlane was on his way to becoming an anthropologist – a transition visible on every page of this fascinating book.

But its overriding character is that of a work of sociology. Social science models helped to impose interpretative order on the kind of archival information dug up by C. L’Estange Ewen, and connected a rise in witchcraft accusations to a number of strains in late-sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century English life, especially economic strains.

Although their interpretations differ in substance and emphasis, Macfarlane and Thomas are still associated with a paradigm…

By Alan Macfarlane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a classic regional and comparative study of early modern witchcraft. The history of witchcraft continues to attract attention with its emotive and contentious debates. The methodology and conclusions of this book have impacted not only on witchcraft studies but the entire approach to social and cultural history with its quantitative and anthropological approach. The book provides an important case study on Essex as well as drawing comparisons with other regions of early modern England.
The second edition of this classic work adds a new historiographical introduction, placing the book in context today.


Book cover of Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps

Georgia Irby Author Of Conceptions of the Watery World in Greco-Roman Antiquity

From my list on how to read maps.

Why am I passionate about this?

I still remember the day I discovered the family atlas (I must have about five; it then lived in my room, and my dad was probably irked, but too kind and encouraging to show it). Since then, I have been mesmerized by maps. How lucky I am to turn an early passion into a focus of research and teaching (I am a Classicist and Historian of Ancient Science). My publications include studies of narrative maps in Greco-Roman literature (they too were mesmerized by maps). You can find maps in the most unexpected places!

Georgia's book list on how to read maps

Georgia Irby Why did Georgia love this book?

Finally, you can’t talk about maps and not talk about sea monsters.

Want to buy a sea monster? Van Duzer tells you how! Given my professional (and personal) interest in cartography, water, sailing, and animals, this book absolutely had to appear on my “Best Books” list. It is very richly illustrated (115 color images), but is not simply a picture book.

Van Duzer’s narrative is engaging and informative. He explores terrifying and whimsical marine creatures that peopled Medieval and Renaissance waters (many are imaginary; some are more or less based on actual sea animals). And he situates them within the broader context of the individual maps, their impact, and marine biology.

Van Duzer thus helps his audience read European Medieval and Renaissance Maps more fully and richly. 

By Chet van Duzer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The sea monsters on medieval and Renaissance maps, whether swimming vigorously, gambolling amid the waves, attacking ships, or simply displaying themselves for our appreciation, are one of the most visually engaging elements on these maps, and yet they have never been carefully studied. The subject is important not only in the history of cartography, art, and zoological illustration, but also in the history of the geography of the 'marvellous' and of western conceptions of the ocean. Moreover, the sea monsters depicted on maps can supply important insights into the sources, influences, and methods of the cartographers who drew or painted…


Book cover of Merde in Europe

Nolan Yuma Author Of Living with the In-Laws

From my list on nonfiction for travelers to make you laugh and cry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Santiago, Chile, took my first steps in Antwerp, Belgium, and grew up in British Columbia, Canada. In other words, I was a third culture child with an identity crisis that carried on into my twenties. These books have helped me turn my past mistakes into a craft others can enjoy. Like many of the authors on my list, I’ve said yes to just about anything and lived with people from every walk of life. I’m an expert in making mistakes, but I have done one thing well, and that’s learning from people who think differently than I do. 

Nolan's book list on nonfiction for travelers to make you laugh and cry

Nolan Yuma Why did Nolan love this book?

Okay, fine, this book isn’t actually nonfiction, but it’s so accurate and believable that it may as well be. You might not question Clarke’s life choices, but you’ll question Paul West, the protagonist. Have you ever wanted to know what it’s like to be a bureaucrat? Neither have I. But that didn’t stop me from reading this book. As someone who has had to deal with funcionarios  (Spanish government employees), bureaucrats aren’t high on my list as people I’d invite to a dinner party, but this book gave me a chance to learn about their lives at a safe distance. I learned something new and laughed out loud on almost every page.

By Stephen Clarke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE POST-BREXIT EDITION - brand new chapters with extra EU chaos for Englishman Paul West.

An Englishman, Paul West, goes to Brussels to work for a French MEP. There he gets an insider's view of what really goes on in the massive madhouse that is the EU Parliament. With the referendum on the horizon, things are even more hysterical than usual.

When the Brexit result comes in, Paul has to make a decision. If he wants to work in Europe, should he apply for a French passport?

But can an Englishman really become French?
Can he sing the bloodthirsty 'Marseillaise'?…


Book cover of The Illuminated Manuscript

Joyce DiPastena Author Of Illuminations of the Heart

From my list on medieval illumination.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been in love with the Middle Ages ever since my mother handed me a copy of The Conquering Family, by Thomas B. Costain, when I was in the 7th grade. Eventually, I went on to earn a degree in history from the University of Arizona. In addition to the many colorful characters who impacted the medieval world, I became entranced with the art of the time period, particularly manuscript paintings. Their beauty, reverence, whimsy, even their occasional naughtiness, are, to me, simply enchanting! It was impossible not to share my love of this artform in at least one of my novels. Below are some of the books that helped me on my writing journey.

Joyce's book list on medieval illumination

Joyce DiPastena Why did Joyce love this book?

Any time you pick up a book with Illuminated Manuscript anywhere in the title, you know you’re in for a visual feast. If you’re just starting out with this unique medieval art form, this book is an excellent introduction. It’s not too long, so it won’t overwhelm you. This book provided the foundation for my first steps into researching medieval illumination for my historical romantic novel. What is illumination? Why were books illuminated and what types of books were considered worthy of illumination? Who were some of the most famous medieval illuminators? (Perhaps my heroine’s father had studied with one.) What kind of patrons might my heroine have encountered in her father’s workshop?

This book ignited my imagination while helping me discover the best answers for my story. (NOTE: So much of this art has been digitized that most of the B&W photos are now easy to find in color…

By Janet Backhouse,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The British Library houses one of the world's great collections of illuminated manuscripts, and Janet Backhouse has drawn on this resource to make a selection of examples that span over 800 years of medieval book production.


Book cover of The Transformation of European Politics 1763-1848

Philip Dwyer Author Of Napoleon: The Path to Power 1769 - 1799

From my list on the Napoleonic Wars and their impact on Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an Australian historian specializing in the French Revolution and Napoleon. I have spent a goodly part of my career writing a three-volume biography of Napoleon, alongside chapters, articles, and edited books that aimed at reassessing the man and the period. Working on Napoleon and the French as occupiers led me into the history of massacre and more broadly into the history of violence. I studied under the preeminent French Napoleonic scholar, Jean Tulard, at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV.

Philip's book list on the Napoleonic Wars and their impact on Europe

Philip Dwyer Why did Philip love this book?

This masterful analysis of European foreign policy encompasses a period slightly larger than the life of Napoleon, but the core of the book is the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. On first reading this I was struck not only by the depth and breadth of Schroeder’s knowledge, but also by his uncanny ability to question standard interpretations and to present an original and oftentimes provocative evaluation. This book made me think about how best to write history. Elegantly written, this is an accomplished tome that will be read by students of foreign policy for many years to come. 

By Paul W. Schroeder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Transformation of European Politics 1763-1848 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the only modern study of European politics to cover the entire timespan from the end of the Seven Years' War in 1763 to the revolutionary year of 1848. Paul Schroeder's comprehensive and authoritative volume charts the course of international history over this turbulent period, in which the map of Europe was redrawn time and again. Professor Schroeder examines the wars, political crises, and diplomatic opportunities of the age, many of which - the
Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, the Congress of Vienna and its aftermath - had far-reaching consequences for modern Europe.

Professor Schroeder provides a new account of…


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