100 books like Ecstasies

By Carlo Ginzburg, Carlo Ginzburg, Raymond Rosenthal (translator)

Here are 100 books that Ecstasies fans have personally recommended if you like Ecstasies. 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 Bathhouse at Midnight: An Historical Survey of Magic and Divination in Russia

Elizabeth Wayland Barber Author Of The Dancing Goddesses: Folklore, Archaeology, and the Origins of European Dance

From my list on European dance in female fertility and health.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an information junkie who loves to dance. I fell in love with folk dancing at age 6, European archaeology at 11, linguistics and cognition at 21—and could never drop any of them. My scientist-father always said, “Follow the problem, not the discipline,” and I began to see how these fields could help answer each other’s questions. Words can survive for millennia—with information about what archaeologists don’t find, like oh-so-perishable cloth. Determining how to reconstruct prehistoric textiles (Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years) then led me to trace the origins of various European folk costumes, and finally even to reconstruct something about the origins of the dances themselves.

Elizabeth's book list on European dance in female fertility and health

Elizabeth Wayland Barber Why did Elizabeth love this book?

I chose this book because it is such a wide-ranging compendium of Russian folk beliefs in general (in English!) as well as of Russian customs involved in trying to ensure the fertility and health of crops, farm animals, and women, all desperately needed for the survival of the community. It is these fascinating and picturesque customs that so often get incorporated into dances. Furthermore, the Dancing Goddesses were often pressed into service for divination of the future, especially by young girls worrying about whom they would marry and how many children they would have, or if they would die first. (I accidentally witnessed one of these ceremonies in Danzig in 1993—they have not died!)

By W.F. Ryan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The title of this book refers to the classic time and place for magic, witchcraft, and divination in Russia. The Bathhouse at Midnight, by one of the world's foremost experts on the subject, surveys all forms of magic, both learned and popular, in Russia from the fifth to the eighteenth century. While no book on the subject could be exhaustive, The Bathhouse at Midnight does describe and assess all the literary sources of magic, witchcraft, astrology, alchemy, and divination from Kiev Rus and Imperial Russia, and to some extent Ukraine and Belorussia. Where possible, Ryan identifies the sources of the…


Book cover of Folk Dress in Europe and Anatolia: Beliefs about Protection and Fertility

Elizabeth Wayland Barber Author Of The Dancing Goddesses: Folklore, Archaeology, and the Origins of European Dance

From my list on European dance in female fertility and health.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an information junkie who loves to dance. I fell in love with folk dancing at age 6, European archaeology at 11, linguistics and cognition at 21—and could never drop any of them. My scientist-father always said, “Follow the problem, not the discipline,” and I began to see how these fields could help answer each other’s questions. Words can survive for millennia—with information about what archaeologists don’t find, like oh-so-perishable cloth. Determining how to reconstruct prehistoric textiles (Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years) then led me to trace the origins of various European folk costumes, and finally even to reconstruct something about the origins of the dances themselves.

Elizabeth's book list on European dance in female fertility and health

Elizabeth Wayland Barber Why did Elizabeth love this book?

This book is a rich source of information about how certain attire, especially the “string skirt” and its variants, has traditionally been drafted in Europe to promote women’s health and fertility, a tradition that we can trace back, through evidence, for some 20,000 years. Wonderfully illustrated, the data here range from Greece and Turkey in the south, through Central Europe to Latvia and Norway in the far north, as well as occasionally deep into Eurasia. And of course, such apparel was particularly donned for dancing on occasions where the wearer would be seen by all. (Being a show-off runs deep in humanity!)

By Linda M. Welters (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the Katharine Briggs Folklore Award 2000.Relationships between dress and the body have existed in European and Anatolian folk cultures well into the twentieth century. Traditional cultures have long held the belief that certain articles of dress could protect the body from harm by warding off the 'evil eye,' bring fertility to new brides, or assure human control of supernatural powers. Ritual fringes, archaic motifs, and colors such as black and red were believed to have powerful, magical effects. This absorbing and interdisciplinary book examines dress in a broad range of folk cultures - from Turkey, Greece, and Slovakia…


Book cover of Calus: Symbolic Transformation in Romanian Ritual

Elizabeth Wayland Barber Author Of The Dancing Goddesses: Folklore, Archaeology, and the Origins of European Dance

From my list on European dance in female fertility and health.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an information junkie who loves to dance. I fell in love with folk dancing at age 6, European archaeology at 11, linguistics and cognition at 21—and could never drop any of them. My scientist-father always said, “Follow the problem, not the discipline,” and I began to see how these fields could help answer each other’s questions. Words can survive for millennia—with information about what archaeologists don’t find, like oh-so-perishable cloth. Determining how to reconstruct prehistoric textiles (Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years) then led me to trace the origins of various European folk costumes, and finally even to reconstruct something about the origins of the dances themselves.

Elizabeth's book list on European dance in female fertility and health

Elizabeth Wayland Barber Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Humans also draft dance to help heal body and mind. I loved Kligman’s personal ventures deep into the complex concerns about life and death, fertility and health, found in related pre-Christian rituals in three areas of the Balkans: the Căluşari in SW Romania, the Rusaltsi in NW Bulgaria, and the Kraljevi—often with other names—just west in former Yugoslavia. (The word Rusaltsi comes from Rusalka, a Slavic name for the “dancing goddess”, as does Rusalii, the thrice-yearly festival in their honor.)  Her intriguing study comes from direct observation of the healing rituals, and on personal discussions with the dancers—including one who was particularly vulnerable to trance!  This is also true of L. Danforth’s remarkable account of the firewalkers of SE Bulgaria and northern Greece (Firewalking and Religious Healing). 

By Gail Kligman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Classic ethnography of a rural Romanian village and ritual by the outstanding American scholar of Romania and Romanian culture.


Book cover of Keeping Together in Time: Dance and Drill in Human History

Elizabeth Wayland Barber Author Of The Dancing Goddesses: Folklore, Archaeology, and the Origins of European Dance

From my list on European dance in female fertility and health.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an information junkie who loves to dance. I fell in love with folk dancing at age 6, European archaeology at 11, linguistics and cognition at 21—and could never drop any of them. My scientist-father always said, “Follow the problem, not the discipline,” and I began to see how these fields could help answer each other’s questions. Words can survive for millennia—with information about what archaeologists don’t find, like oh-so-perishable cloth. Determining how to reconstruct prehistoric textiles (Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years) then led me to trace the origins of various European folk costumes, and finally even to reconstruct something about the origins of the dances themselves.

Elizabeth's book list on European dance in female fertility and health

Elizabeth Wayland Barber Why did Elizabeth love this book?

I selected this book because it finally offered me some answers to questions I’d asked myself all my life: Why am I so driven to dance? Why does dancing make me feel so euphoric? McNeill found himself asking this last question when forced to go through endless military close-order drill (a sort of dance!) as a young draftee. Whence these surprisingly positive effects of “keeping together in time”? Over the course of his later life as a historian, he tracked down a fascinating array of anecdotal and cognitive answers.  The relation of this phenomenon to unique details of how the human brain is put together was then further addressed by Oliver Sacks toward the end of his book Musicophilia, where I first learned of McNeill.

By William H. McNeill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Could something as simple and seemingly natural as falling into step have marked us for evolutionary success? In Keeping Together in Time one of the most widely read and respected historians in America pursues the possibility that coordinated rhythmic movement--and the shared feelings it evokes--has been a powerful force in holding human groups together.As he has done for historical phenomena as diverse as warfare, plague, and the pursuit of power, William H. McNeill brings a dazzling breadth and depth of knowledge to his study of dance and drill in human history. From the records of distant and ancient peoples to…


Book cover of Catechism of the Catholic Church

Edward Castronova Author Of Life Is a Game: What Game Design Says about the Human Condition

From my list on tough and practical books for living well.

Why am I passionate about this?

Edward Castronova is a gamer who also has a PhD in Economics and a lifetime of research on games, technology, and society. In this book he applies everything he has learned to the burning questions at the heart of every person’s life: What am I doing here? How am I supposed to live? When Castronova faced those questions himself, the answer was clear: I have been thrown into a game called “Life” and, being a gamer, I should figure out the rules to this game and try to beat it. 

Edward's book list on tough and practical books for living well

Edward Castronova Why did Edward love this book?

Speaking of ancient wisdom: Here you have a manual of right and wrong. You’re not going to agree with all of it, or even most of it. But what I got out of reading this, before I became Catholic, was that some very smart people over the course of hundreds of years had thought through the basic norms of correct action and written them down. The catechism embeds rules for living within a larger framework of reality, built on faith in Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God. Again, most of you aren’t going to believe that, as I didn’t when I first read the Catechism. But the critical thing is the coherence and accountability in this document. Nothing is out of place. Every rule for right action has some connection to the overarching scheme. There are no inconsistencies (this is the church’s theory, not its actions).

And by…

By No author,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Catechism of the Catholic Church as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This statement of the Catholic faith, produced by the Church after consultation throughout the world, reflects the new way that the Catholic Church has been looking at its doctrine since the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s. It should be useful for all those involved in Catholic teaching, writing, preaching and pastoral work. It should also be of significance to all ecumenical relations, Anglicans and other Christian groups.


Book cover of The Medium and the Light: Reflections on Religion

William J. Buxton Author Of Harold Innis on Peter Pond: Biography, Cultural Memory, and the Continental Fur Trade

From my list on By or about the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan (.

Why am I passionate about this?

William J. Buxton is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies and Senior Fellow, Centre for Sensory Studies, at Concordia University Montreal, Qc, Canada. He is also professeur associé au Département d’information et de communication de l’Université Laval, Québec City, Québec, Canada. He has edited and co-edited five books related to the life and works of the Canadian political economist and media theorist, Harold Adams Innis.

William's book list on By or about the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan (

William J. Buxton Why did William love this book?

Mention has often been made of the extent to which Marshall McLuhan was a devout adherent of the Catholic faith. But little has been known about how he viewed the place of religion in the world particularly with reference to the fate of the Catholic Church. This carefully selected collection of McLuhan’s writings on religion provides one with clarifying insights into his views on a broad range of Church-related issues including the nature of conversion, the spiritualism of youth, the impact of technology on liturgy, and Vatican II.  Overall, by revealing that McLuhan viewed faith as a sense, the volume illuminates the connections he made between religion and media.  

By Marshall McLuhan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Say the name Marshall McLuhan and you think of the great discover's explorations of the media. But throughout his life, McLuhan never stopped reflecting profoundly on the nature of God and worship, and on the traditions of the Church. Often other intellectuals and artists would ask him incredulously, "Are you really a Catholic?" He would answer, "Yes, I am a Catholic, the worst kind -- a convert," leaving them more baffled than before. Here, like a golden thread lining his public utterances on the media, are McLuhan's brilliant probes into the nature of conversion, the church's understanding of media, the…


Book cover of The Rose Ring

Gerri Bauer Author Of Growing a Family in Persimmon Hollow

From my list on Catholic historical romance novels from someone who adores them.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love Catholic historical romance novels for what they do and don’t include. They feature history, multiple characters, community and faith that together set a rich stage for love stories. The novels don’t include graphic violence or sex scenes. A former journalist, I started writing in the genre because I couldn’t find what I wanted to read. I’m both traditionally and indie published. I’m a member of the Catholic Writers Guild, as are the authors whose books are listed here. Family and community play important roles in my books. They show how a couple is never an isolated pair but always part of a multilayered world. Just like real life.

Gerri's book list on Catholic historical romance novels from someone who adores them

Gerri Bauer Why did Gerri love this book?

This is a touching story about love and forgiveness, of oneself as well as of others. The novel is partially historical: the narrative shifts between the 1940s and the present day. The storylines are linked by a beautiful rose ring that is important to the heroines in both eras. Both storylines include love, loss, and love re-found, but not before the modern-day heroine must face what her heart is truly telling her. More than one character finds the redemption that true forgiveness can bring, but each also discovers the journey can be challenging. This novel drops a surprise twist in the middle, so keep your eyes open! I had tears in my eyes when the stories converged and brought closure.

By Anne Faye,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Left at the altar by Zach Richards ten years ago, Julia Manning has buried her pain by leading a quiet life working at a bookstore, helping her sister, visiting residents at a local nursing home, and attempting to be a good daughter. When Zach suddenly arrives back in town and her overbearing mother fixes her up with the last man on earth she would ever want to date, Julia is forced to face her past, whether she wants to or not.

A resident at St. Francis Nursing Home, Elizabeth Phelps suffers from dementia and becomes convinced that a ring Julia…


Book cover of Summer at West Castle

Carolyn Astfalk Author Of All in Good Time

From my list on modern-day romantic escapes for frazzled Catholic moms.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a mom of four busy kids in grade school, middle school, high school, and college, reading a novel is my reward at the end of a hectic day. I’ve read hundreds of novels, many of them Christian romances, while sitting at my children’s bedsides. They have to be well-written, no smut, and if the characters are Catholic Christians like me, all the better.

Carolyn's book list on modern-day romantic escapes for frazzled Catholic moms

Carolyn Astfalk Why did Carolyn love this book?

There are a bazillion romances about good girls attracted to bad boys.

Here’s one about a good girl attracted to a good guy, but neither of them can seem to get past his bad boy past. It’s easy to give lip service to redemption – sure, people change! But to build a life on that change? That’s another thing.

There’s a lot of forced proximity in West Castle that helps bring Caitlyn, our good girl (who has her own flaws), and Jared, our bad boy (who is trying so hard to be a better man), together. The romantic tension kept me reading through to the end!

By Theresa Linden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Summer at West Castle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

College student Caitlyn Summer arrives at the Wests’ castle-like house to fill in for their live-in maid. After a recent decision blows her vision of the future, this ideal job and the peaceful surroundings are just what she needs to seek God’s will for her life. That is, until Jarret West, not wanting a repeat of past mistakes, backs out of a summer-long field study overseas and returns home. The two have never gotten along, and unforgettable baggage from the past makes it hard even to be cordial. While Jarret’s faults convince Caitlyn he hasn’t changed, she forces herself to…


Book cover of Virgins

T. Torrest Author Of Remember When

From my list on romance that flashes back to the 1980s and 90s.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a teenager in the 80s (with the big-hair pictures to prove it) and a chain-smoking, bar-hopping, flannel-clad twenty-something in the 90s. I remember everything about those days. Because my brain is basically a pop culture museum, most of my books are nostalgic, geared toward Gen X, and heavily influenced by the John Hughes films from my youth. My novels are always written with humor, heart, and heat… and more than a little sarcasm. Then again, I’m a lifelong Jersey girl, so that might go without saying. I love reading stories with fun, gorgeous heroes and smart, vibrant heroines… so that’s what I write.

T.'s book list on romance that flashes back to the 1980s and 90s

T. Torrest Why did T. love this book?

Gah! Virgins! I should mention that this book was actually written in the 80s and flashes back to the 50s, but in the spirit of this list (and simply because I flipping love it), I’m including it here. Peggy and Sean are two good little Catholic teens navigating their senior year of high school. Sean is slated to enter the priesthood upon graduation, testing the limits of the pair’s carnal restraint in the final days of their relationship. I don’t think there’s a book in the world that has influenced my storytelling more than this one. It’s hot, hilarious, and heartbreaking… and pretty much serves as the blueprint for my own book. Highly recommend.

By Caryl Rivers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Seniors at Immaculate Heart High, Peggy Morrison and Constance Marie Wepplener set out to defy the conventions and strictures of "Nice Catholic Ladyhood," in a bittersweet story of the coming of age


Book cover of Contending with Modernity: Catholic Higher Education in the Twentieth Century

Mark William Roche Author Of The Intellectual Appeal of Catholicism and the Idea of a Catholic University

From my list on Catholic higher education.

Why am I passionate about this?

I moved to the University of Notre Dame in 1997 because I fell in love with its distinctive vision, including its core mission as a Catholic university. A year later I became dean. When during interviews I asked prospective faculty members how they might contribute to the distinctive mission of Notre Dame, broadly understood, I realized that they did not really understand what a Catholic university was, so I gave them my own understanding of Notre Dame and of the idea of a Catholic university. Eventually, I turned my oral answer into a short book, which articulates that vision in ways that should inspire anyone, whether they are Catholic or not. 

Mark's book list on Catholic higher education

Mark William Roche Why did Mark love this book?

I read this book the summer I became dean. 

I wanted to get a sense of the recent history of American Catholic higher education, and this book offered a comprehensive intellectual and institutional history of American Catholic higher education—just what I was looking for and felt I needed as an administrator at a Catholic university.

By Philip Gleason,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How did Catholic colleges and universities deal with the modernization of education and the rise of research universities? In this book, Philip Gleason offers the first comprehensive study of Catholic higher education in the twentieth century, tracing the evolution of responses to an increasingly secular educational system. At the beginning of the century, Catholics accepted modernization in the organizational sphere while resisting it ideologically. Convinced
of the truth of their religious and intellectual position, the restructured Catholic colleges grew rapidly after World War I, committed to educating for a "Catholic Renaissance." This spirit of
militance carried over into the post-World…


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