100 books like Courtesans and Fishcakes

By James Davidson,

Here are 100 books that Courtesans and Fishcakes fans have personally recommended if you like Courtesans and Fishcakes. 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 The Last of the Wine

Jim Carr Author Of Yesterdays

From my list on wars over the ages.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love history and languages from the first time my school classes opened my eyes to them and it has stayed with me ever since. Learning Latin helped me to understand how these people talked and how they thought and expressed themselves. It didn’t matter what, whether the daily lives of Romans and how they built their empire. It has coloured my thinking, and helped me in writing all my books that take place during the past, whether in Roman life or medieval warfare.

Jim's book list on wars over the ages

Jim Carr Why did Jim love this book?

If you think our wars are long and drawn out, the 25-year war between Athens and Sparta at the time of Athenian power in ancient Greece. The story is told by Alexis, born at a time of plague and the outset of the war. Alexias is born to a rich family and takes part in all the big events that shaped the outcome of the war. The book traces his adventures from his school days and how he witnessed the great naval battle in the Great Harbour, how he was captured and buried his father on his return. There are also references to Alicabides, a prominent figure in Athens at the time.

The Last of the Wine is more than about battles. It also offers great insights into how lived beyond the constant battles that pepper the book and coming to know some of the key Athenian statesmen who come…

By Mary Renault,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Last of the Wine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Athens and Sparta, the mighty city states of ancient Greece, locked together in a quarter century of conflict: the Peloponnesian War. Alexias the Athenian was born, passed through childhood and grew to manhood in those troubled years, that desperate and dangerous epoch when the golden age of Pericles was declining into uncertainty and fear for the future. Of good family, he and his friends are brought up and educated in the things of the intellect and in athletic and martial pursuits. They learn to hunt and to love, to wrestle and to question. And all the time his star of…


Book cover of The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-Heroes of Ancient Greece

Tony Perrottet Author Of The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games

From my list on on the classical world to accompany the Olympics.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a historian, journalist, and travel writer, Tony Perrottet has made a career out of bringing the past to vivid life. Born in Australia, he started writing as a foreign correspondent in South America, where he covered guerrilla wars in Peru, drug running in Colombia, and military rebellions in Argentina. He continues to commute to Athens, Iceland, Tierra del Fuego, and Havana, while contributing to the Smithsonian Magazine, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, amongst others. He has written six books on subjects ranging from classical tourism to the Pope's "pornographic bathroom" in the Vatican, and most recently, ¡Cuba Libre!, an anecdotal account of the Cuban Revolution. His travel stories have been selected seven times for the Best American Travel Writing series, and he is a regular guest on the History Channel, where he has spoken about everything from the Crusades to the birth of disco.

Tony's book list on on the classical world to accompany the Olympics

Tony Perrottet Why did Tony love this book?

Of the over 1,000 independent city-states that made up the Hellenic world -- and competed in the Olympic Games -- Sparta is today the most notorious and influential (after Athens). This book provides a wonderful insight into its extraordinary culture, where Spartan males were brought up in a strict, even ruthless regime of military training, discipline, and self-sacrifice for the communal good -- but where women were given unexpected freedom and power.

By Paul Cartledge,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Spartan legend has inspired and captivated subsequent generations with evidence of its legacy found in both the Roman and British Empires. The Spartans are our ancestors, every bit as much as the Athenians. But while Athens promoted democracy, individualism, culture and society, their great rivals Sparta embodied militarism, totalitarianism, segregation and brutal repression. As ruthless as they were self-sacrificing, their devastatingly successful war rituals made the Spartans the ultimate fighting force, epitomized by Thermopylae. While slave masters to the Helots for over three centuries, Spartan women, such as Helen of Troy, were free to indulge in education, dance and…


Book cover of Feast: Why Humans Share Food

Lizzie Collingham Author Of The Hungry Empire: How Britain's Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World

From my list on food and history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first became interested in food when I was researching my PhD on the use of the body as an instrument of rule in British India. The British in India developed a language of food to demonstrate their power and status. I discovered that food is a rich subject for the historian as it carries a multitude of stories. I have since written five more books exploring these complex stories, always interested in connecting the broad sweep of historical processes to the more intimate level of everyday life and the connections between the food world of the past with the food world of the present.

Lizzie's book list on food and history

Lizzie Collingham Why did Lizzie love this book?

The joy of this book is the way it lays bare the detective work of archaeology. Martin Jones shows us how archaeologists build a picture of the past using fragments of bone; food residues on the inside of cooking pots; grains of pollen; berry seeds and whipworm eggs. He takes us from a group of chimpanzees foraging in Tanzanian fruit trees and the beginnings of sociable eating to the development of cooking among Neanderthals in the Iberian Peninsula and on to a newly-permanent Mesopotamian farming settlement and the competitive dining of a Roman table in Colchester. Organized around the central question of ‘why humans share food’, the book is a history of the meal itself.

By Martin Jones,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Is sharing food such an everyday, unremarkable occurrence?

In fact, the human tendency to sit together peacefully over food is actually rather an extraordinary phenomenon, and one which many species find impossible. It is also a pheonomenon with far-reaching consequences for the global environment and human social evolution.

So how did this strange and powerful behaviour come about? In Feast, Martin Jones uses the latest archaeological methods to illuminate how humans came to share food in the first place and how the human meal has developed since then.

From the earliest evidence of human consumption around half a million years…


Book cover of The Food of Paradise: Exploring Hawaii's Culinary Heritage

Lizzie Collingham Author Of The Hungry Empire: How Britain's Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World

From my list on food and history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first became interested in food when I was researching my PhD on the use of the body as an instrument of rule in British India. The British in India developed a language of food to demonstrate their power and status. I discovered that food is a rich subject for the historian as it carries a multitude of stories. I have since written five more books exploring these complex stories, always interested in connecting the broad sweep of historical processes to the more intimate level of everyday life and the connections between the food world of the past with the food world of the present.

Lizzie's book list on food and history

Lizzie Collingham Why did Lizzie love this book?

I love this book as it enables me to travel vicariously. It is not a conventional travel book, even though it is filled with the stories of a kaleidoscope of Hawaiian people. Nor is it a straightforward cookery book although it contains plenty of recipes for intriguing dishes such as ‘Okinawan Pig’s Feet Soup’ and a biscuit version of bread and butter pudding known as ‘Nihau pudding’. Nor is it a conventional history book although we learn a great deal about Hawaii’s history while Laudan tells us about ‘plate lunches’ and poke (a sort of sushimi), musubi (rice balls), and ‘shave ice’. Instead, The Food of Paradise is a delightful combination of all three genres which captures the flavour (in every sense of the word) of Hawaii.

By Rachel Laudan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Recent winner of a prestigious award from the Julia Child Cookbook Awards, presented by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Lauden was given the 1997 Jane Grigson Award, presented to the book that, more than any other entered in the competition, exemplifies distinguished scholarship.

Hawaii has one of the richest culinary heritages in the United States. Its contemporary regional cuisine, known as "local food" by residents, is a truly amazing fusion of diverse culinary influences. Rachel Laudan takes readers on a thoughtful, wide-ranging tour of Hawaii's farms and gardens, fish auctions and vegetable markets, fairs and carnivals, mom-and-pop stores and…


Book cover of 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement

Amanda Schuster Author Of Signature Cocktails

From my list on making it there from anywhere in New York City.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a lifelong New Yorker and author of two books about drinking in the city—New York Cocktails and Drink Like a Local New York—these are the books about bygone days of city living that I would tell you to read if we met in a bar. You already know the ones by E.B. White, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, or possibly Pete Hamill or Walt Winchell. Those books are fantastic, but these are some “deep cuts” New York City appreciation books that you should also get to know.  

Amanda's book list on making it there from anywhere in New York City

Amanda Schuster Why did Amanda love this book?

Immigrants have the biggest impact on what modern day New Yorkers eat.

This book tells the story of five families from different cultures—German, Irish, Russian (Prussian) Jewish, Lithuanian, and Italian—who at various times all lived at the same tenement on the Lower East Side in the late 19th and early 20th century. Their stories, and the ways their adopted culture evolved since immigrating to America, is told with an examination of the resourceful ways the families earned money, sourced, and shopped for food.

Recipes reveal how certain dishes born out of necessity became iconic staples of American cuisine (for instance, how and why corned beef is an Irish-American, not ethnically Irish dish). 

By Jane Ziegelman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked 97 Orchard as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Social history is, most elementally, food history. Jane Ziegelman had the great idea to zero in on one Lower East Side tenement building, and through it she has crafted a unique and aromatic narrative of New York’s immigrant culture: with bread in the oven, steam rising from pots, and the family gathering round.” — Russell Shorto, author of The Island at the Center of the World

97 Orchard is a richly detailed investigation of the lives and culinary habits—shopping, cooking, and eating—of five families of various ethnicities living at the turn of the twentieth century in one tenement on the…


Book cover of Elinor Fettiplace's Receipt Book: Elizabethan Country House Cooking

Lizzie Collingham Author Of The Hungry Empire: How Britain's Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World

From my list on food and history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first became interested in food when I was researching my PhD on the use of the body as an instrument of rule in British India. The British in India developed a language of food to demonstrate their power and status. I discovered that food is a rich subject for the historian as it carries a multitude of stories. I have since written five more books exploring these complex stories, always interested in connecting the broad sweep of historical processes to the more intimate level of everyday life and the connections between the food world of the past with the food world of the present.

Lizzie's book list on food and history

Lizzie Collingham Why did Lizzie love this book?

In among the diaries and photographs, medal collections, old-fashioned games and mother of pearl counters that Hilary Spurling helped her husband clear from a great-aunt’s London house in the 1970s, she found the seventeenth-century, leather-bound manuscript cookbook of Lady Elinor Fettiplace. Lady Elinor lived with her husband in Appleton manor a few miles south-west of Oxford from 1589 until her death in 1647. The book is one of very few manuscript cookbooks to have survived from this time and from the marginal annotations noting timings and quantities, as well as extra ingredients, it is clear that Lady Elinor used it as a working cookbook. Spurling decided to do the same and followed Lady Elinor ‘round the calendar’ making her ‘Oringe Marmalad’ in January, pickling ‘cowcumbers’ in July, and preparing mutton and rosewater mince pies in December. Through Spurling’s cooking adventures we are transported into the familiar yet strange, rose-water flavoured…

By Hilary Spurling,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Elinor Fettiplace's Receipt Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brilliantly compiled and presented by the celebrated biographer, Hilary Spurling, Elinor Fettiplace's Receipt Book has become a classic in the history of English cooking, and an extraordinarily intimate glimpse into the fabric of everyday Elizabethan life.

'Hilary Spurling has done brilliantly ... Being both a scholar and a cook seems to be a rare combination than one might have expected.' Jane Grigson

'Few cookery books are as important or as fascinating as this ... (Hilary Spurling's) scholarly and practical skills combined make the book much more than an antiquarian curiosity. It is a cookery book to use.' Victoria Glendinning, The…


Book cover of The Nazi Olympics

Tony Perrottet Author Of The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games

From my list on on the classical world to accompany the Olympics.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a historian, journalist, and travel writer, Tony Perrottet has made a career out of bringing the past to vivid life. Born in Australia, he started writing as a foreign correspondent in South America, where he covered guerrilla wars in Peru, drug running in Colombia, and military rebellions in Argentina. He continues to commute to Athens, Iceland, Tierra del Fuego, and Havana, while contributing to the Smithsonian Magazine, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, amongst others. He has written six books on subjects ranging from classical tourism to the Pope's "pornographic bathroom" in the Vatican, and most recently, ¡Cuba Libre!, an anecdotal account of the Cuban Revolution. His travel stories have been selected seven times for the Best American Travel Writing series, and he is a regular guest on the History Channel, where he has spoken about everything from the Crusades to the birth of disco.

Tony's book list on on the classical world to accompany the Olympics

Tony Perrottet Why did Tony love this book?

A juicy account of the most dubious of the modern Olympics, held as a propaganda event in Hitler's Berlin in 1936. For classical history buffs, the most intriguing element is how the Nazis purloined certain "ancient Greek" legacies for their own purposes -- creating the pseudo-tradition of the Olympic torch being carried from Greece, for example, which remains popular to this day. (And of course, it was all captured and glorified by the director Leni Riefenstahl in her film Olympia).

By Richard D. Mandell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Nazi Olympics is the unsurpassed expose of one of the most bizarre festivals in sport history. Not only does it provide incisive portraits of such key figures as Adolf Hitler, Jesse Owens, Leni Riefenstahl, Helen Stephens, Kee Chung Sohn, and Avery Brundage, it also vividly conveys the entire dazzling charade that reinforced and mobilized the hysterical patriotism of the German masses.


Book cover of The Historical Sociology of Japanese Martial Arts

Tony Perrottet Author Of The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games

From my list on on the classical world to accompany the Olympics.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a historian, journalist, and travel writer, Tony Perrottet has made a career out of bringing the past to vivid life. Born in Australia, he started writing as a foreign correspondent in South America, where he covered guerrilla wars in Peru, drug running in Colombia, and military rebellions in Argentina. He continues to commute to Athens, Iceland, Tierra del Fuego, and Havana, while contributing to the Smithsonian Magazine, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, amongst others. He has written six books on subjects ranging from classical tourism to the Pope's "pornographic bathroom" in the Vatican, and most recently, ¡Cuba Libre!, an anecdotal account of the Cuban Revolution. His travel stories have been selected seven times for the Best American Travel Writing series, and he is a regular guest on the History Channel, where he has spoken about everything from the Crusades to the birth of disco.

Tony's book list on on the classical world to accompany the Olympics

Tony Perrottet Why did Tony love this book?

The Eastern tradition of "sports" is entirely different from the Western (indeed, many practitioners of martial arts in the East don't regard them as competitive sports at all, but disciplines where one competes, in a sense, with oneself). I wrote a piece on the history of karate for Smithsonian Magazine, since it is making its debut in Tokyo in August, and found this book (despite its dry and academic title) to be a fascinating introduction to the surprising growth of Japanese martial arts around the world.

By Raúl Sánchez García,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Historical Sociology of Japanese Martial Arts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first long-term historical-sociological analysis of the development of Japanese martial arts.

Uses the theoretical framework of figurational sociology and draws on rich empirical data.

A new contribution to our understanding of the socio-cultural dynamics of state formation.

Considers the neglected role of women in martial arts.

Book cover of Iliad

Steven R. Perkins Author Of Latin for Dummies

From my list on the Greeks and Romans you never read in school.

Why am I passionate about this?

I like books to grab and hold my attention. That’s what I like about music, too, which is why I co-host a heavy metal podcast when I’m not teaching Latin or writing books and articles. Having taught Latin and Classics for over thirty years from middle school through undergrad, I know what people enjoy about the Greco-Roman world and what they often missed out on in school. I love reading this stuff, too, whether prepping for class, doing research for my next publication, or while listening to head-banging greats of the ‘70s and ‘80s, so dig in and get ready to rock with the Romans and groove with the Greeks!

Steven's book list on the Greeks and Romans you never read in school

Steven R. Perkins Why did Steven love this book?

I get it. People read Homer’s Odyssey because of the adventures and gods and monsters, but for me, his best was his first epic poem, The Iliad. The opening word of the story is “rage,” and the action never stops until the last line. From clashing swords to souls sent down to the house of death, this could have been a heavy metal opera if only Homer had played an electric guitar instead of a lyre. I chose the Lombardo translation because it captures best the action and heroism and pulse-pounding excitement that keeps me reading this one over and over.

By Homer, Stanley Lombardo (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Gripping. . . . Lombardo's achievement is all the more striking when you consider the difficulties of his task. . . . [He] manages to be respectful of Homer's dire spirit while providing on nearly every page some wonderfully fresh refashioning of his Greek. The result is a vivid and disarmingly hardbitten reworking of a great classic." -Daniel Mendelsohn, The New York Times Book Review


Book cover of The Satyricon

Andrew Chugg Author Of Alexander's Lovers

From my list on sexual relationships in Greek and Roman antiquity.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I voyaged into the ancient world in the readings of my youth, it led me to realize that the gay-straight divide in modern perceptions of sexuality and relationships is an artifice. It was constructed by the conceit of the ascetic religions that the only legitimate purpose of sex is the production of children within a sanctified marital relationship. In Antiquity, the divide followed a more natural course between the groups who were the sexually active partners (mainly adult men) and those who were sexually passive (mainly women, youths, and eunuchs). My hope is to disperse some of the confusion that the obscuration of this historical reality has caused.

Andrew's book list on sexual relationships in Greek and Roman antiquity

Andrew Chugg Why did Andrew love this book?

Who knew that the emperor Nero appointed an Advisor on Tastefulness, who also penned a bawdy and gritty novel about the adventures of several friends in the Roman Empire in the 1st century AD? Fairly few, and the even more surprising fact is that hundreds of pages of his text survive today. You can still read either in Latin or in English translation about two young men proposing to fight for the affections of the youth Giton and you can join them all in a visit to an archetypal Roman brothel. There is nothing else remaining that provides a more direct and authentic insight into daily experiences and relationships in ancient Rome.

By Petronius, P.G. Walsh (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

`The language is refined, the smile not grave,
My honest tongue recounts how men behave.'

The Satyricon is the most celebrated work of fiction to have survived from the ancient world. It can be described as the first realistic novel, the father of the picaresque genre, and recounts the sleazy progress of a pair of literature scholars as they wander through the cities of the southern Mediterranean. En route they encounter type-figures the author wickedly satirizes - a teacher in higher education, a libidinous priest, a vulgar freedman turned millionaire, a manic
poet, a superstitious sea-captain and a femme fatale.…


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