10 books like Danube

By Claudio Magris, Patrick Creagh (translator),

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

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Daily Life in Late Antiquity

By Kristina Sessa,

Book cover of Daily Life in Late Antiquity

This is the only book on the list that relates directly to my main topic of research, but that is a strong recommendation in itself. In truth, there are lots of books about ‘late antiquity’ (or ‘the later Roman Empire’), and many of them are very good indeed. But they also tell a familiar story in familiar ways: they discuss politics, military actions, transforming towns, and (increasingly) plague and climate change. Sessa’s book deals with all of these themes in some way, but flips the whole thing on its head. This book looks at the period from the bottom up, thinking about the lived experiences of women and children, of country-dwellers, and those who inhabited the less glamorous corners of the empire. Reading this made me think again about lots of topics that I thought I knew well. It is also accessibly written and introduces a sometimes complex period very…

Daily Life in Late Antiquity

By Kristina Sessa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Daily Life in Late Antiquity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Daily Life in Late Antiquity is the first comprehensive study of lived experience in the Late Roman Empire, from c.250-600 CE. Each of the six topical chapters highlight historical 'everyday' people, spaces, and objects, whose lives operate as windows into the late ancient economy, social relations, military service, religious systems, cultural habits, and the material environment. However, it is nevertheless grounded in late ancient primary sources - many of which are available in accessible English translations - and the most recent, cutting-edge scholarship by specialists in fields such as archaeology, social history, religious studies, and environmental history. From Manichean rituals…


Cultural Amnesia

By Clive James,

Book cover of Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts

Clive James will probably be remembered in this country for his moving poem Red Maple, and for a decade’s worth of wry commentary talking about the Japanese Gameshow, ‘Endurance’ on TV, but his essays and literary criticism were every bit as significant (and often just as funny). Cultural Amnesia is a peculiar collection of short essays on important literary, cultural, and historical figures of the past, which James compiled over the course of his life. Many of the subjects will be familiar to everyone: Charlie Chaplin, Coco Chanel, Adolf Hitler, but many will not (but should be): Egon Friedell was an extraordinary man of letters who encapsulated Vienna at its most sparkling, but who killed himself when the Nazis arrived; Ricarda Huch was a brilliant historian of Germany who went into voluntary exile at around the same time. As these examples suggest, the struggle between cultural and totalitarianism is…

Cultural Amnesia

By Clive James,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This international bestseller is an encyclopedic A-Z masterpiece-the perfect introduction to the very core of Western humanism. Clive James rescues, or occasionally destroys, the careers of many of the greatest thinkers, humanists, musicians, artists, and philosophers of the twentieth century. Soaring to Montaigne-like heights, Cultural Amnesia is precisely the book to burnish these memories of a Western civilization that James fears is nearly lost.


Beards

By Reginald Reynolds,

Book cover of Beards

I came across this book unexpectedly in an American bookstore, and have since given it as a gift countless times. In essence, Reynolds provides a survey of human history through facial hair, creating a rambling, eccentric overview and proposing all sorts of improbable theories, many of which are probably right. The bookseller’s note on the back cover of my copy lists it as ‘History (?)’, which seems about right, but it has definitely made me think about history in a different way. I also now have a beard of my own (not connected).

Reynolds also wrote a similarly inspiring book about toilets.  

Beards

By Reginald Reynolds,

Why should I read it?

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


Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

By James Agee, Walker Evans,

Book cover of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men: Three Tenant Families

This isn’t really a history book, but it made me think about many aspects of society and writing in a wholly new way. In 1936, Fortune Magazine commissioned the writer James Agee and the photographer Walker Evans to produce an extended article on families in Alabama during the tail end of the Great Depression. The task proved to be impossible, not just because the topic was too vast to fit into a single article, but also because of the complex responses that both men felt towards the task at hand and the families with whom they worked. The result was the long study Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, which is made up of Agee’s thoughts and reflections, and of Evans’s justly famous images. This is a tough read: not because the language is difficult (it isn’t), but because of the challenges of the theme, and of Agee’s struggles…

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

By James Agee, Walker Evans,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Let Us Now Praise Famous Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1936, Agee and Evans set out on assignement for Fortune magazine to explore the daily lives of sharecroppers in the South. Their journey would prove an extraordinary collaboration and a watershed literary event when in 1941 Let Us Now Praise Famous Men was first published to enourmous critical acclaim. This unspairing record of place, of the people who shaped the land, and of the rhythm of their lives today stands as one of the most influential books of the twentieth century.


Between the Woods and the Water

By Patrick Leigh Fermor,

Book cover of Between the Woods and the Water: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Middle Danube to the Iron Gates

This book is the second in a trilogy about a long journey Fermor made—mostly on foot—from Holland to Istanbul in 1934, when he was nineteen years old. Fermor wrote the books from memory many years afterward, so their veracity is open to question, but his imagination and skill aren't: he might resent the comparison, but his books gave me the same thrills as an adult that I remember from my parents reading The Lord of the Rings to me as a child. Though all three are astounding, Between the Woods and the Water is my favorite— it begins as he crosses the Danube into Hungary from the west, follows him across Romania, and ends up in the Balkans, a region that would soon be transformed (and, in part, erased) by World War II. Fermor knows that too, but he doesn't mention it: he lets the places he walks through and…

Between the Woods and the Water

By Patrick Leigh Fermor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Between the Woods and the Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The acclaimed travel writer's youthful journey - as an 18-year-old - across 1930s Europe by foot began in A Time of Gifts, which covered the author's exacting journey from the Lowlands as far as Hungary.

Picking up from the very spot on a bridge across the Danube where his readers last saw him, we travel on with him across the great Hungarian Plain on horseback, and over the Romanian border to Transylvania.

The trip was an exploration of a continent which was already showing signs of the holocaust which was to come. Although frequently praised for his lyrical writing, Fermor's…


The Pharaoh's Shadow

By Anthony Sattin,

Book cover of The Pharaoh's Shadow: Travels in Ancient and Modern Egypt

Egyptology is a strange subject in that, even though you wouldn’t know it from the name, it really only concerns one aspect of Egypt – its ancient past – and it’s quite possible to develop an expertise in the field without having any familiarity with Egypt of the present day. One might become an expert in reading the hieroglyphic script, or in distinguishing an Old Kingdom statue from one sculpted in the New Kingdom, all without ever even visiting Egypt itself. Although this is an unintended consequence, it does rather foster the false idea that ancient Egypt is entirely unconnected from modern Egypt. But while more than a thousand years have passed since anyone worshipped the ancient gods or wrote anything in the ancient script, the two are very much connected of course – the natural environment, the land, and the climate are essentially unchanged, the modern people are the…

The Pharaoh's Shadow

By Anthony Sattin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a ruined temple along the Nile, Anthony Sattin sees a woman praying to the gods of ancient Egypt to bless her with a child. Later that day, a policeman stops his taxi to ask to borrow a mobile phone to call his mother. The ancient rubs up against the modern just as dramatically as when Flaubert wrote, 'Egypt is a wonderful place for contrasts - splendid things gleam in the dust". Anthony Sattin has tracked down extraordinary examples of ancient survivals in the hurly-burly of modern Egypt.


A Land of Two Halves

By Joe Bennett,

Book cover of A Land of Two Halves

I don’t really get why Joe Bennett isn’t more famous as a travel writer. The Briton passes through the world with a detached cynicism that results in sheer hilarity. If that’s not enough, this book has a thread: the challenge of hitch-hiking around New Zealand, his adopted homeland. A country that had a cameo part to play in my own Outback truck driver mission. A country with which I have a love-hate relationship. (I love its beauty and old-world charm; I hate it because I’m South African and its rugby team is too keen on beating mine.) Like me, Bennett’s first impressions of the Antipodes came from dead-of-night sports broadcasts. Like me, Bennett wrote about how (in)accurate those were in his book. I think we’d get on…

A Land of Two Halves

By Joe Bennett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Land of Two Halves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After ten years in New Zealand, Joe Bennett asked himself what on earth he was doing there. Other than his dogs, what was it about these two small islands on the edge of the world that had kept him - an otherwise restless traveller - for really much longer than they seemed to deserve? Bennett thought he'd better pack his bag and find out. Hitching around both the intriguingly named North and South Islands, with an eye for oddity and a taste for conversation, Bennett began to remind himself of the reasons New Zealand is quietly seducing the rest of…


The Geography of Bliss

By Eric Weiner,

Book cover of The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World

The USA is unique in that our Declaration of Independence identifies the happiness of citizens as a goal when organizing the country. The Geography of Bliss asks why all countries are not similarly organized. This book is a fun romp as the author visits different countries that have radically different happiness levels and seeks to find out why. A key finding from the book is that a rich cultural life increases happiness. This is consistent with my research that has shown its connections to, and experiences with, other people that account for most differences in happiness. This book made me think about what communities can do to foster social connections that drive up happiness levels. 

The Geography of Bliss

By Eric Weiner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What makes a nation happy? Is one country's sense of happiness the same as another's? In the last two decades, psychologists and economists have learned a lot about who's happy and who isn't. The Dutch are, the Romanians aren't, and Americans are somewhere in between...

After years of going to the world's least happy countries, Eric Weiner, a veteran foreign correspondent, decided to travel and evaluate each country's different sense of happiness and discover the nation that seemed happiest of all.

*He discovers the relationship between money and happiness in tiny and extremely wealthy Qatar (and it's not a good…


Travels with Charley in Search of America

By John Steinbeck,

Book cover of Travels with Charley in Search of America

This is the story of Steinbeck traveling around the country for three months in a truck camper with his dog Charlie. The aging writer set out to rediscover the real America that he had been writing about his whole career. In the process he not only gains a new understanding of the country but of himself. For me, it was fascinating looking at the United States through 1960 eyes and realizing that while much has changed, we still face many of the same issues they dealt with then. Like my own experiences it was also a wonderful reminder that we grow from taking on challenging adventures. 

Travels with Charley in Search of America

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Travels with Charley in Search of America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An intimate journey across America, as told by one of its most beloved writers

To hear the speech of the real America, to smell the grass and the trees, to see the colors and the light-these were John Steinbeck's goals as he set out, at the age of fifty-eight, to rediscover the country he had been writing about for so many years.

With Charley, his French poodle, Steinbeck drives the interstates and the country roads, dines with truckers, encounters bears at Yellowstone and old friends in San Francisco. Along the way he reflects on the American character, racial hostility, the…


Blue Highways

By William Least Heat-Moon,

Book cover of Blue Highways: A Journey into America

Ah, the lure of the back roads, the unbeaten paths, the “blue highways”—to use the term popularized by William Least Heat-Moon in his stirring, soulful travel book of that name. From the first pages, I heard the song of the open road as I read, and the music didn’t stop until the last paragraph. Kerouac’s novel was published the year before I was born. Least Heat-Moon’s book appeared a quarter-century later, when I was a young man yearning to find myself on the open road. Blue Highways was cathartic: it showed me that a journey on America’s back roads—and a book about that journey—was still possible in an America that had changed significantly since Kerouac’s time.

Blue Highways

By William Least Heat-Moon,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Blue Highways as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hailed as a masterpiece of American travel writing, Blue Highways is an unforgettable journey along our nation's backroads.
William Least Heat-Moon set out with little more than the need to put home behind him and a sense of curiosity about "those little towns that get on the map -- if they get on at all -- only because some cartographer has a blank space to fill: Remote, Oregon; Simplicity, Virginia; New Freedom, Pennsylvania; New Hope, Tennessee; Why, Arizona; Whynot, Mississippi."
His adventures, his discoveries, and his recollections of the extraordinary people he encountered along the way amount to a revelation…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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