100 books like Freaks of Fortune

By Jonathan Levy,

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

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Stuff and Money in the Time of the French Revolution

Timothy Alborn Author Of Misers: British Responses to Extreme Saving, 1700-1860

From my list on the strangeness of money.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by money since I was a graduate student when I had even less of it than I do today (as a British historian in the CUNY system). We all carry it in our wallets and have more or less of it in the bank, but it’s also in the air we breathe, suffusing the books we read and the decisions we make. So when I started researching and writing about the British past, money and its associated institutions seemed like an obvious place to start looking. It has yet to let me down, enabling me to discover new things to say about politics, literature, and society.

Timothy's book list on the strangeness of money

Timothy Alborn Why did Timothy love this book?

I love the way this book makes the very old story of the French Revolution new and exciting by telling the parallel story of how so much of the turmoil of that period was etched onto the money that a succession of governments issued.

I learned so much, both from the shifting set of images on French money and the wonderful stories about how a confused populace used this money to the best of their ability, as their paper currency lost both the crowned heads that once adorned it and, in the process, much of its value. Spang ingeniously recounts the revolutionaries’ efforts to paper over a failing revolution with vacuous promises to pay. 

By Rebecca L. Spang,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stuff and Money in the Time of the French Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Louis Gottschalk Prize, American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
A Financial Times Best History Book of the Year
A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of the Year

Rebecca L. Spang, who revolutionized our understanding of the restaurant, has written a new history of money. It uses one of the most infamous examples of monetary innovation, the assignats-a currency initially defined by French revolutionaries as "circulating land"-to demonstrate that money is as much a social and political mediator as it is an economic instrument. Following the assignats from creation to abandonment, Spang shows them to be subject to the same…


Book cover of Travellers' Money

Timothy Alborn Author Of Misers: British Responses to Extreme Saving, 1700-1860

From my list on the strangeness of money.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by money since I was a graduate student when I had even less of it than I do today (as a British historian in the CUNY system). We all carry it in our wallets and have more or less of it in the bank, but it’s also in the air we breathe, suffusing the books we read and the decisions we make. So when I started researching and writing about the British past, money and its associated institutions seemed like an obvious place to start looking. It has yet to let me down, enabling me to discover new things to say about politics, literature, and society.

Timothy's book list on the strangeness of money

Timothy Alborn Why did Timothy love this book?

I remember traveling in Europe as a teenager in the early 1980s, before ATMs and euros, when American Express traveler’s checks allowed me to pay for room and board across a succession of sovereign states.

Booker ends his book where I started my personal monetary journey, telling the fascinating history of how (mostly British) tourists paid their way across Europe and North America, using such strange devices as circular notes and early incarnations of the traveler’s check. The book includes numerous color plates of these pieces of paper, issued by Thomas Cook, Lloyds Bank, and even American Express! I also learned about how far the pound sterling counted as a coin of the world and not just a coin of the realm (answer: not as far as I thought!).

By John Booker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Booker, John


Book cover of The Social Life of Money in the English Past

Timothy Alborn Author Of Misers: British Responses to Extreme Saving, 1700-1860

From my list on the strangeness of money.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by money since I was a graduate student when I had even less of it than I do today (as a British historian in the CUNY system). We all carry it in our wallets and have more or less of it in the bank, but it’s also in the air we breathe, suffusing the books we read and the decisions we make. So when I started researching and writing about the British past, money and its associated institutions seemed like an obvious place to start looking. It has yet to let me down, enabling me to discover new things to say about politics, literature, and society.

Timothy's book list on the strangeness of money

Timothy Alborn Why did Timothy love this book?

Before Valenze published this book, she had mostly written about people—religious visionaries, working-class women, and the like. Since this book appeared in 2006, she has focused on things—specifically milk and, as seen through the eyes of Thomas Malthus, the food that sustains populations.

This book is where these two foci meet, and the book has deeply informed my own work on money and the way I teach British history to my students. My main takeaway from the book is Valenze’s claim that Britain “detoxified” money toward the end of the eighteenth century. Around this time, moralists found cause to focus on its redemptive capacity and shifted their chagrin from money itself to its abuse. Money, she argues, became a measure of status, a judicial incentive (in the form of rewards for wanted criminals), and a vehicle of philanthropy–emerging, alongside the Enlightenment, as “a universal instrument of personal agency.”

By Deborah Valenze,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Social Life of Money in the English Past as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In an age when authoritative definitions of currency were in flux and small change was scarce, money enjoyed a rich and complex social life. Deborah Valenze shows how money became involved in relations between people in ways that moved beyond what we understand as its purely economic functions. This highly original investigation covers the formative period of commercial and financial development in England between 1630 and 1800. In a series of interwoven essays, Valenze examines religious prohibitions related to avarice, early theories of political economy and exchange practices of the Atlantic economy. In applying monetary measurements to women, servants, colonial…


Book cover of Forging Nations: Currency, Power, and Nationality in Britain and Ireland since 1603

Timothy Alborn Author Of Misers: British Responses to Extreme Saving, 1700-1860

From my list on the strangeness of money.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by money since I was a graduate student when I had even less of it than I do today (as a British historian in the CUNY system). We all carry it in our wallets and have more or less of it in the bank, but it’s also in the air we breathe, suffusing the books we read and the decisions we make. So when I started researching and writing about the British past, money and its associated institutions seemed like an obvious place to start looking. It has yet to let me down, enabling me to discover new things to say about politics, literature, and society.

Timothy's book list on the strangeness of money

Timothy Alborn Why did Timothy love this book?

When I got wind of this book, I had just finished writing a book about gold and money in Britain from the 1750s to the 1850s. Although I knew about the long history of British money prior to the 1750s and also about its complicated history down to the present, I jumped at the chance to read the whole story laid out between two covers. Blaazer deftly accomplishes this task, with a special focus on the strikingly different paths that money took in Britain’s three corners of Ireland, Scotland, and England (not so much on Wales, as is so often the case in such histories!).

How a country manages its money, it turns out, says much about how it governs its people—ranging from willful indifference in Ireland to consistent policies in England and Scotland that favored the wealthy (and especially the bankers) over the middling classes. A final advantage of…

By David Blaazer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Forging Nations, Blaazer studies the relationships between money, power, and nationality in England, Scotland, and Ireland from the first attempts to unify their currencies following the Union of the Crowns in 1603 to the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis. Through successive crises spanning four centuries, Forging Nations examines critical struggles over monetary power between the state and its creditors, and within and between nations during the long, multifaceted process of creating the United Kingdom as a monetary as well as a political union. It shows how and why centuries of monetary dysfunction and conflict eventually gave way to…


Book cover of American Empire: A Global History

Marc-William Palen Author Of The 'Conspiracy' of Free Trade: The Anglo-American Struggle over Empire and Economic Globalisation, 1846-1896

From my list on late-19th-century American capitalism and empire.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian based in England, raised in Texas. While undertaking a summertime spoken Latin course at the Vatican in 2001 I found myself in the midst of Italian protests against that year’s G8 summit in Genoa. The strength of the anti-globalization movement, and the violent response from the Carabinieri, sparked an early interest in the historical controversies surrounding globalization and US foreign policy. Ten years later, I had a PhD in History from the University of Texas at Austin and the first draft of what would become my book, The “Conspiracy” of Free Trade

Marc-William's book list on late-19th-century American capitalism and empire

Marc-William Palen Why did Marc-William love this book?

American Empire is a magisterial book from one of the founders of the field of global history—and the person most responsible for starting me on my career path as a historian.

This doorstopper of a book by one of the preeminent historians of our age will take you on a globe-trotting journey of the American Empire. The growth of Gilded Age capitalism plays an important part within it, as do the rival European powers.

By A. G. Hopkins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A new history of the United States that turns American exceptionalism on its head American Empire is a panoramic work of scholarship that presents a bold new global perspective on the history of the United States. Drawing on his expertise in economic history and the imperial histories of Britain and Europe, A. G. Hopkins takes readers from the colonial era to today to show how, far from diverging, the United States and Western Europe followed similar trajectories throughout this long period, and how America's dependency on Britain and Europe extended much later into the nineteenth century than previously understood. In…


Book cover of After Capitalism

Tom Malleson Author Of Against Inequality: The Practical and Ethical Case for Abolishing the Superrich

From my list on economic inequality and how to fix it.

Why am I passionate about this?

There are many big problems in the world today–racism, war, climate change, unaccountable governments, exploitative corporations, and so on. But when you scratch the surface of almost any serious problem, what you find is that the root of the problem is inequality: a minority of people are rich and powerful, while those who suffer the most are typically poor and powerless. I’m so passionate about inequality because, in my eyes, it constitutes the heart and soul of what’s wrong with our world and the key to making things better.

Tom's book list on economic inequality and how to fix it

Tom Malleson Why did Tom love this book?

Margaret Thatcher famously argued that “there is no alternative;” this book is the ultimate rebuttal.

I read this for the first time as an undergrad, and it forever changed me. What’s so powerful about it is that Schweickart lays out a simple but powerful model for a fundamentally different kind of society–a democratic socialist society based on economic democracy. He then carefully demonstrates that this alternative is not only feasible but that it would work far better than capitalism in pretty well every regard.

For anyone who has been searching for a clear and coherent alternative–this book is for you. 

By David Schweickart,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Since first published in 2002, After Capitalism has offered students and political activists alike a coherent vision of a viable and desirable alternative to capitalism. David Schweickart calls this system Economic Democracy, a successor-system to capitalism which preserves the efficiency strengths of a market economy while extending democracy to the workplace and to the structures of investment finance. In the second edition, Schweickart recognizes that increased globalization of companies has created greater than ever interdependent economies and the debate about the desirability of entrepreneurship is escalating. The new edition includes a new preface, completely updated data, reorganized chapters, and new…


Book cover of The Annual Migration Of Clouds

Michael J. DeLuca Author Of Night Roll

From my list on community-building amid the ruins of capitalism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been in love with ecological writing, the effort to communicate love for and grief over the destruction of the profound beauty of the natural world, since I wrote my first play about rainforest clear-cutting in fifth grade—if not before. In 2016, I started Reckoning, a nonprofit journal of creative writing about environmental justice, because I wanted to encourage others doing this work, to provide an independent platform for it in ways profit-driven traditional publishing wasn't, and to build a community where those writers could share and inspire each other. Seven years later, that community defines me; it's the most rewarding thing I've ever done.

Michael's book list on community-building amid the ruins of capitalism

Michael J. DeLuca Why did Michael love this book?

Another short novel about people forging community in a world rendered almost unrecognizable by climate collapse and the devastating consequences of environmental injustice, this one provides a close focus on what it's like to be young, lost, and angry in the ruins of choices made before you were born. Nobody trying to live forward in these uncertain times should be without that perspective. As a parent struggling to come to terms with sending a kid out to grow up in this world, I know I've been desperate for it, and Mohamed's intensely close point of view makes it impossible not to inhabit. It's scary, but essential.

By Premee Mohamed,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Annual Migration Of Clouds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A novella set in post–climate disaster Alberta; a woman infected with a mysterious parasite must choose whether to pursue a rare opportunity far from home or stay and help rebuild her community


The world is nothing like it once was: climate disasters have wracked the continent, causing food shortages, ending industry, and leaving little behind. Then came Cad, mysterious mind-altering fungi that invade the bodies of the now scattered citizenry. Reid, a young woman who carries this parasite, has been given a chance to get away — to move to one of the last remnants of pre-disaster society — but…


Book cover of Artisans in Europe, 1300-1914

Henry C. Clark Author Of Compass of Society: Commerce and Absolutism in Old-Regime France

From my list on understanding where “capitalism” came from.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have long found it mysterious how we can live in what is truly one interconnected global order. Traders, merchants, deal-makers have long been viewed with suspicion. I wrote Compass of Society to explore how one country, France, with its tradition of land-based elites, could contemplate remaking itself as a “commercial society.” Adam Smith said that even in his time, everyone “becomes in some measure a merchant, and the society itself... a commercial society.” Revisionists are finding high levels of commercialization even in premodern China and India. In this list, I picked five of my favorite books that reshaped our understanding of where European “capitalism” came from.

Henry's book list on understanding where “capitalism” came from

Henry C. Clark Why did Henry love this book?

Though sometimes described as a “textbook,” this authoritative, lucidly written, and altogether reliable synthesis—covering much of Europe—is actually a fine way to learn about the guild masters who dominated pre-industrial labor. Their paradoxical condition comes through clearly: employers and employees, they were at once seamlessly integrated into the social hierarchy and ruthlessly exclusionary toward outsiders. They touted a timeless, divinely sanctioned order, while also being true wheelers and dealers for their own honor and interests, leading to levels of entrepreneurship and inequality amongst their own ranks that would surprise many.

By James R. Farr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Artisans in Europe, 1300-1914 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is a survey of the history of work in general and of European urban artisans in particular, from the late middle ages to the era of industrialization. Unlike traditional histories of work and craftsmen, this book offers a multi-faceted understanding of artisan experience situated in the artisans' culture. It treats economic and institutional topics, but also devotes considerable attention to the changing ideologies of work, the role of government regulation in the world of work, the social history of craftspeople, the artisan in rebellion against the various authorities in his world, and the ceremonial and leisure life of…


Book cover of Telling the Map

Michael J. DeLuca Author Of Night Roll

From my list on community-building amid the ruins of capitalism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been in love with ecological writing, the effort to communicate love for and grief over the destruction of the profound beauty of the natural world, since I wrote my first play about rainforest clear-cutting in fifth grade—if not before. In 2016, I started Reckoning, a nonprofit journal of creative writing about environmental justice, because I wanted to encourage others doing this work, to provide an independent platform for it in ways profit-driven traditional publishing wasn't, and to build a community where those writers could share and inspire each other. Seven years later, that community defines me; it's the most rewarding thing I've ever done.

Michael's book list on community-building amid the ruins of capitalism

Michael J. DeLuca Why did Michael love this book?

Christopher Rowe's prose is beautiful, vivid, and engrossing. His vision of a future mid-South dominated by rogue artificial intelligence conceals amid its wild phantasmagoria a surprisingly perceptive tenderness for the ways people cling together as they struggle to adapt and make space for each other in a complex and massively changed world. These stories also communicate an engrossing, evangelical love for bikes and cycling like nothing else I've read.

By Christopher Rowe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

There are ten stories here including one readers have waited ten long years for: in new novel-la The Border State Rowe revisits the world of his much-lauded story The Voluntary State. Competitive cyclists twins Michael and Maggie have trained all their lives to race internationally. One thing holds them back: their mother who years before crossed the border into Tennessee.

Praise for Christopher Rowe:

"Rowe's stories are the kind of thing you want on a cold, winter's night when the fire starts burning low. Terrific."
Justina Robson (Glorious Angels)

"As good as he is now, he'll keep getting better. Read…


Book cover of The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism Before Its Triumph

William Caferro Author Of Petrarch's War: Florence and the Black Death in Context

From my list on economic history and testing assumptions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began this veil as a mathematics major and a first generation college student. It was not easy and I had no great plans or ambitions. I was good at math. But as I read books like these, and many others, I changed my horizons altogether, saw a place for myself and a purpose previously lacking. Economic History resembles my first love of math, but with persons and human behavior included. The latter is endlessly fascinating, as is the tendency of “experts” to misread and make broad assumptions that I, ever skeptical, wish to test where I can. I like being engaged intellectually for its own sake, and, from books like Tristram Shandy, have always endeavored to take my work seriously, but not myself as a human being.

William's book list on economic history and testing assumptions

William Caferro Why did William love this book?

The book is, like the others I have recommended, decidedly distinctive and untraditional. It traces the convoluted history of capitalist thought prior to its advent (which is itself the subject of ceaseless debate). Reducing forces to “passion” and “order” made me look at a complicated subject in a new way.

By Albert O. Hirschman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this volume, Albert Hirschman reconstructs the intellectual climate of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to illuminate the intricate ideological transformation that occurred, wherein the pursuit of material interests--so long condemned as the deadly sin of avarice--was assigned the role of containing the unruly and destructive passions of man. Hirschman here offers a new interpretation for the rise of capitalism, one that emphasizes the continuities between old and new, in contrast to the assumption of a sharp break that is a common feature of both Marxian and Weberian thinking. Among the insights presented here is the ironical finding that capitalism…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in capitalism, economics, and philosophy?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about capitalism, economics, and philosophy.

Capitalism Explore 201 books about capitalism
Economics Explore 392 books about economics
Philosophy Explore 1,649 books about philosophy