100 books like Folk Dress in Europe and Anatolia

By Linda M. Welters (editor),

Here are 100 books that Folk Dress in Europe and Anatolia fans have personally recommended if you like Folk Dress in Europe and Anatolia. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath

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 first picked up this book hoping to find whether Western Europe ever had agrarian fertility rituals/beliefs equivalent to those I was studying in Eastern Europe. But then I simply couldn’t stop reading, because it was so compellingly written as well as chock full of fascinating information relating to my interests. Ginzburg presents both the historical records and his deeply perceptive insights into the processes by which age-old farmers’ customs (including dancing), aimed simply at having enough food for the year, were reinterpreted as evil witchery and Satanism by Roman Catholic officials attempting to eradicate everything outside the Christian church as they knew it. (Eastern Orthodox officials, with far more territory to convert, confined themselves largely to condemning murder, adultery, and incest, and reallocating people’s entrenched customs to Christian saints.)

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

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Italian


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 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 The Ottoman Empire and the World Around It

Emrah Sahin Author Of Faithful Encounters: Authorities and American Missionaries in the Ottoman Empire

From my list on understanding the Ottoman Empire and the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

Emrah Sahin is a specialist in the history of religious interactions and international operations in Islam and Muslim-Christian relations. He received a Ph.D. from McGill University, a Social Science and Humanities Research Award from Canada, the Sabancı International Research Award from Turkey, and the Teacher of the Year Award from the University of Florida. He is currently with the University of Florida as a board member in Global Islamic Studies, an affiliate in History, a lecturer in European Studies, a college-wide advisor, and the coordinator of the federal Global Officer program.

Emrah's book list on understanding the Ottoman Empire and the world

Emrah Sahin Why did Emrah love this book?

This archive-powered gem is about moments when people and things moved between Europe and the Middle East not harder than today. From Islamic laws to foreign affairs, slaves to pilgrims, archival sources to further study, it is for readers to observe the trees without losing sight of the Ottoman forestry. 

By Suraiya Faroqhi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ottoman Empire and the World Around It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Islamic law the world was made up of the House of Islam and the House of War with the Ottoman Sultan - the perceived successor to the Caliphs - supreme ruler of the Islamic world. However, Suraiya Faroqhi demonstrates that there was no iron curtain between the Ottoman and other worlds but rather a long-established network of diplomatic, financial, cultural and religious connections. These extended to the empires of Asia and the modern states of Europe. Faroqhi's book is based on a huge study of original and early modern sources, including diplomatic records, travel and geographical writing, as well…


Book cover of The Last Berserker

Ethan Bale Author Of Hawker and the King's Jewel

From my list on medieval epic adventures.

Why am I passionate about this?

Long before I started my career in journalism I was a voracious reader of historical novels. I devoured epic adventure about medieval Europe and eventually got involved in European martial arts: fighting in full armour in tournaments and melees. My love of history finally won out over my day job of defence reporting and I began penning novels. The books I most enjoy are more than just battle tales, they’re about people. Good historical fiction isn’t just about the history. It needs more than volleys of arrows and swinging swords, it needs characters you care about. These books combine authenticity with passionate, compelling writing and unique characters you won’t soon forget.

Ethan's book list on medieval epic adventures

Ethan Bale Why did Ethan love this book?

Like the Vikings? Want to read about real Vikings? Angus Donald’s first in a series takes you to the harsh realities of 8th century Europe and portrays the Vikings in all their aspects, both violent and noble.

He wears his impeccable research lightly though and it’s an explosive journey that is most compelling when dealing with the culture clash between Charlemagne’s growing empire and the Viking Dane warriors who listen to the beat of their own drum.

“Beserkers” were a caste of Vikings who would supposedly work themselves into a fearsome frenzy of blood rage in battle. But Donald goes deeper than stereotypes, showing the mystical and religious underpinnings of this class of warrior and in so doing bringing reason, emotion, and honor to their struggles. 

By Angus Donald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Donald is a writer not only at the top of his game, but of the game' Giles Kristian, author of the Raven series
'Donald delivers a masterclass' Theodore Brun, author of A Burning Sea
'A gory, gleeful treat' The Times

The greatest warriors are forged in the flamesTwo pagan fighters

771AD, Northern Europe. Bjarki Bloodhand and Tor Hildarsdottir are journeying south into Saxony. Their destination is the Irminsul, the One Tree that links the Nine Worlds of the Middle-Realm. In this most holy place, they hope to learn how to summon their animal spirits so they can enter the ranks…


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 Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment

Tomek Jankowski Author Of Eastern Europe! Everything You Need to Know About the History (and More) of a Region that Shaped Our World and Still Does

From my list on understanding your Eastern European Grandma.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born into a family with an Eastern European heritage, and lived and studied in the region for some years – including during the period of the collapse of the communist regimes. I am comfortable in Polish and Hungarian, and more vaguely functional in Russian and German – with Bulgarian a distant last. My undergraduate degree in history included an Eastern European specialization (including a paper co-administered between American and Hungarian institutions), and my graduate degree in economics included a focus on emerging economies. In my “day job” as a business analyst, I deal frequently with the business landscape in the region. I am married to a Pole, and have family in Poland.    

Tomek's book list on understanding your Eastern European Grandma

Tomek Jankowski Why did Tomek love this book?

Again, this may be a bit dense reading but Wolff tackles the very notion of “Eastern Europe.”

The Enlightenment was a philosophical movement that began in the mid-17th century and lasted until about 1800, and it focused on remaking politics. Enlightenment thinkers believed in change and progress, that Europeans were not doomed to suffer under the tyranny of feudal kings.

Wolff explores how these Enlightenment thinkers celebrated an Age of Progress in Western Europe – but were less impressed with the Eastern half. For thinkers like Voltaire, “Eastern Europe” came to mean backward, under-developed, superstitious, and violent Europe.

These thinkers began using this term, “Eastern Europe” in the 1770s to mean “the Other Europe,” like an embarrassing, unwanted sibling. Wolff describes how these attitudes shaped Western policies towards Eastern Europe. 

By Larry Wolff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is a wide-ranging intellectual history of how, in the 18th century, Europe came to be conceived as divided into "Western Europe" and "Eastern Europe". The author argues that this conceptual reorientation from the previously accepted "Northern" and "Southern" was a work of cultural construction and intellectual artifice created by the philosophes of the Enlightenment. He shows how the philosophers viewed the continent from the perspective of Paris and deliberately cultivated an idea of the backwardness of "Eastern Europe" the more readily to affirm the importance of "Western Europe".


Book cover of Dark Star

Patrick W. O'Bryon Author Of Corridor of Darkness

From my list on espionage and resistance in Hitler's Third Reich.

Why am I passionate about this?

While a graduate student and then an army interpreter in Germany, I listened to reminiscences from both Third Reich military veterans and former French resistance fighters. Their tales picked up where my father's stories of pre-war European life always ended, and my fascination with this history knew no bounds. On occasion I would conceal my American identity and mentally play the spy as I traversed Europe solo. A dozen years later upon the death of my father, I learned from my mother his great secret: he had concealed his wartime life as an American spy inside the Reich. His private journals telling of bravery and intrigue inspire each of my novels.

Patrick's book list on espionage and resistance in Hitler's Third Reich

Patrick W. O'Bryon Why did Patrick love this book?

As the first in his series of novels on the 1930s in Europe, Alan Furst's Night Soldier tends to earn the most critical praise, but Dark Star remains my personal favoriteFurst masters the noir ambiance and moral ambiguity of Europe as war approaches, where everyday people are drawn into the world of espionage and intrigue. His settings often lie outside the main urban centers of Paris and Berlin in the remote reaches of Eastern Europe. Furst's novels are impeccably researched for accurate detail-one of my must-haves in historical fiction-and each book will draw you to read the next in his series.

By Alan Furst,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Andre Szara, survivor of the Polish pogroms and the Russian civil wars, is a journalist working for Pravda in 1937. War in Europe is already underway and Szara is co-opted to join the NKVD, the Soviet secret intelligence agency. He does his best to survive the tango of pre-war politics by calmly obeying orders and keeping his nose clean. But when he is sent to retrieve a battered briefcase the plot thickens and is drawn into even more complex intrigues.

Szara becomes a full-time spymaster and as deputy director of a Paris network, he finds his own star rising when…


Book cover of Life in Medieval Europe: Fact and Fiction

Madina Papadopoulos Author Of The Step-Spinsters

From my list on transporting you to medieval life.

Why am I passionate about this?

Madina Papadopoulos is a New Orleans-born, New York-based freelance writer and author. She is currently working on the sequel to The Step-Spinsters, the first in the Unspun Fairytale series, which retells classic princess stories set in the late Middle Ages. She studied French and Italian at Tulane University and received her MFA in screenwriting at UCLA. After teaching foreign languages at the university level, as well as in childhood and elementary school programs, she developed and illustrated foreign language coloring workbooks for preschoolers. As a freelance writer, she focuses on food, drinks, and entertainment.

Madina's book list on transporting you to medieval life

Madina Papadopoulos Why did Madina love this book?

Dani​​èle Cybulskie, AKA “the 5 Minute Medievalist,” is a Medieval Influencer with books, a podcast, and blogs, all offering the world quickly digestible knowledge of this millennium in history. In her book, Life in Medieval Europe, Fact and Fiction, she takes us through a fun game of True or False. The grouping of the Middle Ages spans a confusingly long time, from around the late 400s to the late 1400s. Various traditions can be fit into those thousand years, one would think that by sheer probability most of our Medieval stereotypes would fit into one of those centuries. Interestingly enough, a good amount of what films set in Medieval Times is hilariously incorrect. Pick it up and start your guessing.

By Danièle Cybulskie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Have you ever found yourself watching a show or reading a novel and wondering what life was really like in the Middle Ages? What did people actually eat? Were they really filthy? And did they ever get to marry for love?

In Medieval Europe in Fact and Fiction, you'll find fast and fun answers to all your secret questions, from eating and drinking to sex and love. Find out whether people bathed, what they did when they got sick, and what actually happened to people accused of crimes. Learn about medieval table manners, tournaments, and toothpaste, and find out if…


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