20 books like Foul Bodies

By Kathleen M. Brown,

Here are 20 books that Foul Bodies fans have personally recommended if you like Foul Bodies. 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 More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave

Carroll Pursell Author Of The Machine in America: A Social History of Technology

From my list on technology interacting with American society.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been teaching and writing in the field of the history of technology for over six decades, and it's not too much to say that the field and my professional career grew up together. The Society for the History of Technology began in 1958, and its journal, Technology and Culture, first appeared the following year. I've watched, and helped encourage, a broadening of the subject from a rather internal concentration on machines and engineering to a widening interest in technology as a social activity with cultural and political, as well as economic, outcomes. In my classes I always assigned not only original documents and scholarly monographs but also memoirs, literature, and films.

Carroll's book list on technology interacting with American society

Carroll Pursell Why did Carroll love this book?

It is hardly news that housework is gendered. But in this classic study Cowan, by taking housewifery seriously as work and kitchen utensils and appliances seriously as technologies, opens up the whole panorama of production and consumption in a domestic setting. The influx of new appliances, and in a more convenient form old materials (such as powdered soap) in the early decades of the 20th century worked to, in a sense, “industrialize” the home. Unlike factory workers, however, housewives were unpaid, isolated, and unspecialized. Their managerial role shrank (hired help disappeared from most homes)  and rather than being drained of meaning, like the work of factory hands, theirs became burdened with portentous implications of love, devotion, and creativity. Finally, as housework became “easy,” standards rose. At one time changing the bed might have amounted to putting the bottom sheet in the wash and the top sheet on the bottom,…

By Ruth Schwartz Cowan,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked More Work for Mother as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this classic work of women's history (winner of the 1984 Dexter Prize from the Society for the History of Technology), Ruth Schwartz Cowan shows how and why modern women devote as much time to housework as did their colonial sisters. In lively and provocative prose, Cowan explains how the modern conveniences,washing machines, white flour, vacuums, commercial cotton,seemed at first to offer working-class women middle-class standards of comfort. Over time, however, it became clear that these gadgets and gizmos mainly replaced work previously conducted by men, children, and servants. Instead of living lives of leisure, middle-class women found themselves struggling…


Book cover of To 'Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women's Lives and Labors After the Civil War

Betsy Wood Author Of Upon the Altar of Work: Child Labor and the Rise of a New American Sectionalism

From my list on to make you excited about labor history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by how ordinary people can change the course of their own lives since I was a child. However, I had no idea until later in life that there were entire fields of study devoted to understanding how this process works historically. When I discovered “new labor history” many years ago, I knew I wanted to be part of it. It was the privilege of a lifetime to study under some of the best labor historians in the world at the University of Chicago. And I can’t describe how I felt when my dissertation won the Herbert Gutman Prize in Labor History. I hope these books spark your interest!

Betsy's book list on to make you excited about labor history

Betsy Wood Why did Betsy love this book?

I’ve always been a sucker for a good labor strike.

But a labor strike of Black women in the South—only a decade removed from slavery—demanding dignity, equality, and a living wage so they could simply “enjoy their freedom” in a region where a rich, white, slaveholding regime was just recently toppled? That’s next-level stuff.

Hunter tells the story of this Black female majority who worked in domestic labor in the years following the Civil War. Can you imagine going to work as a wage-earning domestic laborer in the home of your former owner? And then collectively organizing to demand that “freedom” actually means something in this godforsaken region?

Come for the organized labor protests. Stay for the moment these women pack their bags and move to the North seeking the joy and pleasure they deserve.

By Tera W. Hunter,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked To 'Joy My Freedom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As the Civil War drew to a close, newly emancipated black women workers made their way to Atlanta--the economic hub of the newly emerging urban and industrial south--in order to build an independent and free life on the rubble of their enslaved past. In an original and dramatic work of scholarship, Tera Hunter traces their lives in the postbellum era and reveals the centrality of their labors to the African-American struggle for freedom and justice. Household laborers and washerwomen were constrained by their employers' domestic worlds but constructed their own world of work, play, negotiation, resistance, and community organization.

Hunter…


Book cover of The Chinatown Trunk Mystery: Murder, Miscegenation, and Other Dangerous Encounters in Turn-Of-The-Century New York City

Alison Lefkovitz Author Of Strange Bedfellows: Marriage in the Age of Women's Liberation

From my list on the politics of doing the laundry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I dig into family dramas of the past. But these dramas interest me most when I understand how personal stories intersected with the legal and policy structures that shaped what was possible for families. Overall, I am interested in the many ways that inequality—between races, genders, and classes—began at home. I am now working on a project on sex across class lines in the 20th century United States. I am an associate professor in the Federated History Department at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers-Newark.

Alison's book list on the politics of doing the laundry

Alison Lefkovitz Why did Alison love this book?

Mary Lui’s fascinating book hinges on a hook that nearly always works—a murder mystery. In this case, the victim was Elsie Siegel, a young white woman from a good family who did missionary work with the Chinese American community in New York City. She was the picture of innocence until her body was found bound up in a trunk in a Chinese American man’s apartment. Further investigations uncovered a set of love letters not only to this man but also to another Americanized Chinese immigrant. Seemingly one of her lovers had killed her out of jealousy. What followed was not only a manhunt for her killer but also a backlash against the Chinese American community including the many hand laundries scattered throughout New York City. Elsie Siegel’s death prompted rumors that these laundries allowed widespread assaults against white women and girls. Lui paints us a heartbreaking account of the suffering…

By Mary Ting Yi Lui,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1909, the gruesome murder of nineteen-year-old Elsie Sigel sent shock waves through New York City and the nation at large. The young woman's strangled corpse was discovered inside a trunk in the midtown Manhattan apartment of her reputed former Sunday school student and lover, a Chinese man named Leon Ling. Through the lens of this unsolved murder, Mary Ting Yi Lui offers a fascinating snapshot of social and sexual relations between Chinese and non-Chinese populations in turn-of-the-century New York City. Sigel's murder was more than a notorious crime, Lui contends. It was a clear signal that…


Book cover of Feminism's Forgotten Fight: The Unfinished Struggle for Work and Family

Alison Lefkovitz Author Of Strange Bedfellows: Marriage in the Age of Women's Liberation

From my list on the politics of doing the laundry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I dig into family dramas of the past. But these dramas interest me most when I understand how personal stories intersected with the legal and policy structures that shaped what was possible for families. Overall, I am interested in the many ways that inequality—between races, genders, and classes—began at home. I am now working on a project on sex across class lines in the 20th century United States. I am an associate professor in the Federated History Department at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers-Newark.

Alison's book list on the politics of doing the laundry

Alison Lefkovitz Why did Alison love this book?

Kirsten Swinth’s fantastic new book argues that our understanding of feminism as asking women to have it all is deeply misunderstood. The second wave did want women to be able to balance their lives as homemakers and workers, but not by having a double shift. Instead, they wanted women’s household burden to be shared—by their husbands, by employers, by the government, and by society as a whole. Swinth shows how feminists tried to deploy the philosophy that “the personal is political” against the problem of laundry and other household tasks. Wives’ strategies ranged from household labor strikes (Don’t Iron While the Strike Is Hot! was the motto of the Women’s Strike for Equality) to drawing up their own individual marriage contracts. These homespun contracts delineated a fairer division of household labor between husbands and wives. Swinth shows that despite these measures and some legal successes, women nonetheless mostly retained their…

By Kirsten Swinth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Feminism's Forgotten Fight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A spirited defense of feminism, arguing that the lack of support for working mothers is less a failure of second-wave feminism than a rejection by reactionaries of the sweeping changes they campaigned for.

When people discuss feminism, they often lament its failure to deliver on the promise that women can "have it all." But as Kirsten Swinth argues in this provocative book, it is not feminism that has betrayed women, but a society that balked at making the far-reaching changes for which activists fought. Feminism's Forgotten Fight resurrects the comprehensive vision of feminism's second wave at a time when its…


Book cover of Life On Man

Jessica Snyder Sachs Author Of Good Germs, Bad Germs: Health and Survival in a Bacterial World

From my list on surviving and thriving in a microbial world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm enchanted by ecology – how life on Earth is both a web and a seamless continuum. In my first book, Corpse, I explored the organisms that colonize the human body after death. In Good Germs, Bad Germs, I immersed myself in our symbiotic relationship with the ever-present bacteria that live in us and on us. I’m passionate about understanding how we evolved to survive in a bacterial world and how we must take the long-term view of surviving – and thriving – in their ever-present embrace. My joy has been in exploring the world of science and translating this joy into lay-accessible stories that entertain as well as educate. 

Jessica's book list on surviving and thriving in a microbial world

Jessica Snyder Sachs Why did Jessica love this book?

In Life on Man, the brilliant bacteriologist and renowned professor Theodor Rosebury became the first to introduce the public to the world of bacteria within and around them. He did so with irreverence and humor that shocked and delighted without sacrificing scientific accuracy and prudence. Though our understanding of the bacterial world has progressed light years since Life on Man was first published in 1969, it remains a classic. A must-read for everyone seriously interested in our personal microbiomes.  

By Theodor Rosebury,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Chasing Dirt: The American Pursuit of Cleanliness

Katherine Ashenburg Author Of The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History

From my list on the history of washing our bodies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been drawn to social history, so the chance to learn what people used for toilet paper in the middle ages or how deodorant was invented and popularized in the early 20th century was perfect for me. The three years I spent researching The Dirt on Clean included trips to see the bathing facilities in Pompeii and actually bathing in ancient mineral baths and spas in Hungary, Switzerland, and Germany, and what’s not to like about that?

Katherine's book list on the history of washing our bodies

Katherine Ashenburg Why did Katherine love this book?

How did Americans in the 19th century, who were described by one traveller as “filthy, bordering on the beastly,” transform themselves into arguably the cleanest people in the Western world? Hint: unexpected things such as the rise of hotels, the Civil War, and the growth of advertising are important parts of this journey towards obsessive cleanliness. Hoy charts this surprising transformation with wit and skill.

By Suellen Hoy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Americans in the early 19th century were, as one foreign traveller bluntly put it, "filthy, bordering on the beastly"-perfectly at home in dirty, bug-infested, malodorous surroundings. Many a home swarmed with flies, barnyard animals, dust, and dirt; clothes were seldom washed; men hardly ever shaved or bathed. Yet gradually all this changed, and today, Americans are known worldwide for their obsession with cleanliness-for their sophisticated plumbing, daily
bathing, shiny hair and teeth, and spotless clothes. In Chasing Dirt, Suellen Hoy provides a colorful history of this remarkable transformation from "dreadfully dirty" to "cleaner than clean," ranging from the pre-Civil War…


Book cover of The Conquest of Water: The Advent of Health in the Industrial Age

Katherine Ashenburg Author Of The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History

From my list on the history of washing our bodies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been drawn to social history, so the chance to learn what people used for toilet paper in the middle ages or how deodorant was invented and popularized in the early 20th century was perfect for me. The three years I spent researching The Dirt on Clean included trips to see the bathing facilities in Pompeii and actually bathing in ancient mineral baths and spas in Hungary, Switzerland, and Germany, and what’s not to like about that?

Katherine's book list on the history of washing our bodies

Katherine Ashenburg Why did Katherine love this book?

Europeans had feared water since the Black Death of 1347 when the doctors of the Sorbonne pronounced that people who took warm baths were more susceptible to the plague. There followed what the French historian Jules Michelet called (with some hyperbole) “five hundred years without a bath.” Goubert’s scholarly but always readable book describes the gradual and tentative death of this longstanding myth. Beginning in the 18th century, the emergence of the idea of water as a benefit and not a danger to public health was complicated and touched many areas of life. Goubert is adept at moving from social to cultural to administrative sectors, with just the right balance of theory and anecdotes.

By Jean-Pierre Goubert, Andrew Wilson (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"The preoccupation with water is, according to Jean-Pierre Goubert, one of the subdivisions of the religion of progress. . . . Goubert's research is entirely interdisciplinary, and his procedure is highly original. The first in his field, the author has at all points built up a study which never departs from its faithfulness to texts, documents and facts."--From the introduction

This book is the first major study of the social and cultural conquest of water during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Jean-Pierre Goubert discloses the changing meanings of everyday reality as he explores the transition from water-scarce cultures, in which…


Book cover of Clean and White: A History of Environmental Racism in the United States

Nancy C. Unger Author Of Beyond Nature's Housekeepers: American Women in Environmental History

From my list on American environmental history.

Why am I passionate about this?

History is my passion as well as my profession. I love a good story! When I was teaching courses in environmental history and women’s history, I kept noticing the intriguing intersections, which inspired me to write Beyond Nature’s Housekeepers. Most of my work focuses on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (1877-1920) and includes two award-winning biographies, Fighting Bob La Follette and Belle La Follette Progressive Era Reformer. I’m also the co-editor of A Companion to the Gilded Age and Progressive Era and have written dozens of op-eds and give public talks (some of which can be found in the C-SPAN online library and on YouTube). 

Nancy's book list on American environmental history

Nancy C. Unger Why did Nancy love this book?

The environmental justice movement grew out of recognition of the disproportionate environmental burdens faced by low-income communities, including many communities of color. Zimring provides a detailed and compelling analysis of the long history of environmental racism that the environmental justice movement seeks to remedy. He reveals how ideas about race, hygiene, and waste have shaped where and how people (including Native Americans, immigrant groups, and African Americans) have lived and worked.

By Carl A. Zimring,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Clean and White offers a history of environmental racism in the United States focusing on constructions of race and hygiene
When Joe Biden attempted to compliment Barack Obama by calling him "clean and articulate," he unwittingly tapped into one of the most destructive racial stereotypes in American history. This book tells the history of the corrosive idea that whites are clean and those who are not white are dirty. From the age of Thomas Jefferson to the Memphis Public Workers strike of 1968 through the present day, ideas about race and waste have shaped where people have lived, where people…


Book cover of We Wear Masks

Beth Bacon Author Of Helping Our World Get Well: Covid Vaccines

From my list on for kids about COVID-19.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an author of books for young readers. These days, there’s nothing more important than having conversations about the Coronavirus disease. It can be hard for grown-ups to start a conversation about Covid with their kids. But they can read a book about the subject and invite the kids to respond to what they heard and saw. My book COVID-19 Helpers was the first place winner of the Emery Global Health Institute’s e-book contest back in May 2020. Through the pandemic, I’ve been reading and talking about the virus with kids from around the world. If you're interested in having me read one of my books to your school, clinic, or your daycare center feel free to get in touch. 

Beth's book list on for kids about COVID-19

Beth Bacon Why did Beth love this book?

The whimsical illustrations in this book caught my attention and captured my heart. The colors in this book are lovely pastels and the text is simple so there’s lots of room to admire the images. I am partial to picture books that are simple and emotional. As we continue on for so many months making the extra effort to wear masks in our daily lives, there’s something heartening in seeing pictures of other people happily wearing masks on the pages of this book. The text is written in sets of rhyming pairs, which are sometimes a stretch. I appreciate that this book for young readers shows a diverse group of people all merrily going about their tasks while wearing protective face masks. 

By Marla Lesage,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

We Wear Masks is a fun tool to help children make sense of this new reality and make wearing masks less scary and more relatable.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many children have been introduced to wearing face masks and seeing others in masks. Author and illustrator Marla Lesage normalizes mask-wearing by introducing young readers to artists, ranchers, pilots, welders, scientists and many more people who already wear masks in their day-to-day lives. This delightful, rhyming picture book will help explain to children why wearing a mask is important as we interact with others in our communities. Readers will learn that,…


Book cover of Harry the Dirty Dog

Emma Bland Smith Author Of Odin, Dog Hero of the Fires

From my list on children’s books about dogs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a librarian and author living in San Francisco. Like many children, I grew up on dog books. I read and re-read Lassie Come Home and The Incredible Journey. James Herriot’s memoirs—many of which feature dogs—were my bedtime stories. Today, I often write about animals as a way to build empathy in child readers and teach the values of loyalty, kindness, and friendship. (My picture books include stories about dogs, alligators, wolves, and ducks!) Although I love a good cry over a book, I have chosen mostly happy books for this list of picture and middle-grade books about dogs. I hope the animal-loving child readers in your life enjoy them!

Emma's book list on children’s books about dogs

Emma Bland Smith Why did Emma love this book?

First published in 1956, Harry the Dirty Dog is still around and charming young readers. To avoid a bath, Harry buries the scrubbing brush in the yard and then runs away. He gets into entertaining scrapes and messes, eventually returning home so covered in dirt and soot that he is unrecognizable to his family. Panic! How will Harry convince his family that he is their missing pet? I read this on repeat to my kids when they were young, and today I also read it during library storytimes. The retro art is visually appealing and the story has just-high-enough stakes to keep kids glued to their seats.  

By Gene Zion, Margaret Bloy Graham (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Harry the Dirty Dog as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Harry is a black and white dog who hates having a bath - so when he sees his owner with the dredded bath, he runs away. But in the end, harry gets so dirty that his owners dont recognise him and so he has to beg for the thing he used to dread so much so they let him back into the houshold.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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