91 books like Graffiti and the Literary Landscape in Roman Pompeii

By Kristina Milnor,

Here are 91 books that Graffiti and the Literary Landscape in Roman Pompeii fans have personally recommended if you like Graffiti and the Literary Landscape in Roman Pompeii. 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 The Complete Pompeii

Virginia Campbell Author Of The Tombs of Pompeii: Organization, Space, and Society

From my list on Pompeii and what we know about this Roman city.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first visited Pompeii on a school trip when I was 17. I have a clear memory of standing in the Forum and thinking it was the most amazing place I had ever been. Decades later, that feeling remains, and the sites destroyed by Vesuvius have become the focus of my research on ancient Rome. I have excavated in Pompeii, conducted epigraphic fieldwork in Herculaneum, and taught students at multiple universities around the UK about the cities, the people who lived there, and their destruction. I am fundamentally interested in the people, how they lived their lives, and have published widely on tombs, epigraphy, and politics in Pompeii.

Virginia's book list on Pompeii and what we know about this Roman city

Virginia Campbell Why did Virginia love this book?

Probably the best and most approachable overview of the history and archaeology of Pompeii, good for the armchair enthusiast and student alike. It is clear, concise, and well-illustrated, and unlike many such books that appeal to a more general audience, it is authored by an expert who has been working on site and teaching about Pompeii for most of her career.

By Joanne Berry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This profusely illustrated volume, the latest instalment in Thames & Hudson's bestselling Complete series, is the most up-to-date, comprehensive and authoritative account of the most important archaeological site in the world. Nine chapters cover the rise and fall of Pompeii and all aspects of its life, including reconstructions of the daily lives of the town's inhabitants, the dramatic story of Pompeii's destruction through the words of Roman writers and the spectacular remains of volcanic debris and damage. It is sure to become the standard account for tourist, traveller, student and scholar alike.


Book cover of The Brothel of Pompeii: Sex, Class, and Gender at the Margins of Roman Society

Eve D'Ambra Author Of Roman Women

From my list on women in Ancient Rome that cut the clichés.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of ancient art at Vassar College where I teach Roman art and archaeology. I have published widely in the field and traveled extensively in the Mediterranean. My first encounters with Roman art occurred as a child in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC where I would stand before Roman portrait heads because their faces seemed stern and grim, yet ordinary and matter-of-fact. I have continued to observe Roman portraits over the years, but admit that I still sometimes find them daunting.

Eve's book list on women in Ancient Rome that cut the clichés

Eve D'Ambra Why did Eve love this book?

Tourists, who are marched through the only designated, purposely-built brothel in Pompeii, stare at the cubicles with built-in masonry beds and wall paintings depicting sexual acts. Richardson pieces together an array of evidence, from various finds and graffiti to the early excavation reports, to assess the experiences of both the male clients and the female prostitutes. According to Richardson, more than sex was provided by the women of the brothel. This book imaginatively reconstructs the activities of the brothel in an intriguing way.

By Sarah Levin-Richardson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this book, Sarah Levin-Richardson offers the first authoritative examination of Pompeii's purpose-built brothel, the only verifiable brothel from Greco-Roman antiquity. Taking readers on a tour of all of the structure's evidence, including the rarely seen upper floor, she illuminates the subculture housed within its walls. Here, prostitutes could flout the norms of society and proclaim themselves sexual subjects and agents, while servile clients were allowed to act as 'real men'. Prostitutes and clients also exchanged gifts, greetings, jokes, taunts, and praise. Written in a clear, engaging style, and accompanied by an ample illustration program and translations of humorous and…


Book cover of Resurrecting Pompeii

Virginia Campbell Author Of The Tombs of Pompeii: Organization, Space, and Society

From my list on Pompeii and what we know about this Roman city.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first visited Pompeii on a school trip when I was 17. I have a clear memory of standing in the Forum and thinking it was the most amazing place I had ever been. Decades later, that feeling remains, and the sites destroyed by Vesuvius have become the focus of my research on ancient Rome. I have excavated in Pompeii, conducted epigraphic fieldwork in Herculaneum, and taught students at multiple universities around the UK about the cities, the people who lived there, and their destruction. I am fundamentally interested in the people, how they lived their lives, and have published widely on tombs, epigraphy, and politics in Pompeii.

Virginia's book list on Pompeii and what we know about this Roman city

Virginia Campbell Why did Virginia love this book?

More often than not, people forget that the Vesuvian sites are, as gruesome as it sounds, large mass burials – not just of the cities themselves, but of people. The human remains of Pompeii (and by extension, Herculaneum) have been ignored or treated like some kind of circus attraction for centuries. What Lazar does is open your eyes to just how much information there is to be found from the casts and skeletons, and the potential to learn so much more about people and life in the first century. Her work is groundbreaking.

By Estelle Lazer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Resurrecting Pompeii provides an in-depth study of a unique site from antiquity with information about a population who all died from the same known cause within a short period of time.

Pompeii has been continuously excavated and studied since 1748. Early scholars working in Pompeii and other sites associated with the AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius were seduced by the wealth of artefacts and wall paintings yielded by the site. This meant that the less visually attractive evidence, such as human skeletal remains, were largely ignored.

Recognizing the important contribution of the human skeletal evidence to the archaeology of…


Book cover of Discovering the Gardens of Pompeii: Memoirs of a Garden Archaeologist

Virginia Campbell Author Of The Tombs of Pompeii: Organization, Space, and Society

From my list on Pompeii and what we know about this Roman city.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first visited Pompeii on a school trip when I was 17. I have a clear memory of standing in the Forum and thinking it was the most amazing place I had ever been. Decades later, that feeling remains, and the sites destroyed by Vesuvius have become the focus of my research on ancient Rome. I have excavated in Pompeii, conducted epigraphic fieldwork in Herculaneum, and taught students at multiple universities around the UK about the cities, the people who lived there, and their destruction. I am fundamentally interested in the people, how they lived their lives, and have published widely on tombs, epigraphy, and politics in Pompeii.

Virginia's book list on Pompeii and what we know about this Roman city

Virginia Campbell Why did Virginia love this book?

It’s difficult to imagine any discussion of Pompeii (or Roman gardens) without mentioning Jashemski. She quite literally wrote the book(s) on gardens, and her archaeological approach to plant remains revolutionised how botanical evidence is collected. This book, published after her death, is a memoir more than anything, detailing her work, her travels, and her vast experience of working in Pompeii. It is, in many ways, a love letter to the place that somewhat unexpectedly became the focus her life.

By Wilhelmina Feemster Jashemski,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

These memoirs, illustrated with over 400 photo­graphs, will delight anyone interested in gardens or in the Roman world. They tell the human and the scientific story of how a woman from a small town in Nebraska learned more about the gardens of Pompeii than anyone thought possible. A master raconteur, professor of ancient history and teacher of a popular general humanities class at the University of Maryland, Wilhelmina Jashemski will fascinate both the Pompeian expert and the newcomer to the subject.

She set out in 1955 with her husband, Stanley Jashemski, to explore the gardens of the Roman empire with…


Book cover of A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii

Steven A. McKay Author Of The Druid

From my list on what you should read after Steven A. McKay's The Druid.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Scotland in 1977 and always enjoyed studying history – well, the interesting bits, not so much what they taught us in school. My first book in the Forest Lord series, Wolf’s Head, was set in medieval England and it’s a fast-paced, violent retelling of the Robin Hood legends. I’ve since sold over 130,000 books in the past few years. As a working class man from a little village in Scotland, I’m honestly amazed at how many people enjoy my writing.

Steven's book list on what you should read after Steven A. McKay's The Druid

Steven A. McKay Why did Steven love this book?

A collection of interlinked short stories about the volcanic destruction of Pompeii which works better than I thought it would. A lot better, as this is one of the most moving books I’ve ever read, bringing me to tears in places. Six authors, all looking at the doom of quite different characters, from gladiators to senators to a pregnant woman and more, you expect the whole thing to be utterly depressing but, somehow, it isn’t. I must admit I read this when I was in a very fragile state of mind having just suffered a terrible tragedy of my own, so it’s possible that affected my reading of A Day of Fire and how I responded to it, but I know it was extremely well written and I was so glad to have read it. I think you should too.

By Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, Sophie Perinot , Vicky Alvear Shecter , Kate Quinn , E. Knight

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Pompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain's wrath . . . and these are their stories: A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii's flourishing streets. An heiress dreads her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire. An ex-legionary stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished. A crippled senator welcomes death, until…


Book cover of Pompeii

Gordon Anthony Author Of In the Shadow of the Wall

From my list on Roman history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have had a lifelong love of history, especially ancient history, and have spent years studying it for both interest and pleasure. I also love stories, so I decided to put my knowledge of Roman history to good use, providing what I hope is an authentic backdrop to my novels.

Gordon's book list on Roman history

Gordon Anthony Why did Gordon love this book?

We all love Mary Beard, and this superb book looks into the daily life of the people who lived in Pompeii before its destruction, revealing plenty of fascinating detail, and excellent explanation and commentary. Definitely one of the best books about daily life in an ordinary Roman town.

By Mary Beard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The ruins of Pompeii, buried by an explosion of Vesuvius in 79 CE, offer the best evidence we have of everyday life in the Roman empire. This remarkable book rises to the challenge of making sense of those remains, as well as exploding many myths: the very date of the eruption, probably a few months later than usually thought; or the hygiene of the baths which must have been hotbeds of germs; or the legendary number of brothels, most likely only one; or the massive death count, maybe less than ten per cent of the population.

An extraordinary and involving…


Book cover of The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found

Josiah Osgood Author Of Rome and the Making of a World State, 150 BCE–20 CE

From my list on the grit and glamor of Ancient Rome.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of ancient Rome. My interest was sparked in my high school Latin classes. On my first trip to Rome, several years later, I truly fell in love. I could see the famed orator delivering his fierce attacks against Catiline amid the grand temples of the Forum and its surrounding hills. I could imagine myself standing in a crowd, listening. In Washington DC, where I now live and teach at Georgetown University, there are classical buildings all around to keep me inspired. I have written a number of books about Roman political history and have also translated the biographer Suetonius and the historian Sallust.

Josiah's book list on the grit and glamor of Ancient Rome

Josiah Osgood Why did Josiah love this book?

No city of the Roman world survives more fully than Pompeii in southern Italy. Baths, bars, houses, and temples have been recovered, along with pots and pans, foodstuffs, medical instruments, and skeletons with evidence of an appallingly high rate of disease. For a knowledgeable and witty guide to the city you can’t beat Mary Beard, who helps us see it was not all marble columns and pretty paintings. I especially love her description of the House of the Tragic Poet, in which Edward Bulwer-Lytton set an early scene of his novel The Last Days of Pompeii, a dinner party hosted by the character Glaucus. Beard reveals that just behind this house was a cloth-processing workshop in which the main agent used would have been human urine. “In the background to Glaucus’ elegant dinner party,” writes Beard, “there must have been a distinctly nasty odor.”        

By Mary Beard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Pompeii is the most famous archaeological site in the world, visited by more than two million people each year. Yet it is also one of the most puzzling, with an intriguing and sometimes violent history, from the sixth century BCE to the present day.

Destroyed by Vesuvius in 79 CE, the ruins of Pompeii offer the best evidence we have of life in the Roman Empire. But the eruptions are only part of the story. In The Fires of Vesuvius, acclaimed historian Mary Beard makes sense of the remains. She explores what kind of town it was-more like Calcutta or…


Book cover of Pompeii

Flora Johnston Author Of The Paris Peacemakers

From my list on historical fiction books with a new take on a famous event.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by stories from the past. I worked for many years in museums and heritage, telling Scotland’s stories through exhibitions and nonfiction publications, but I was always drawn to the question best answered through historical fiction – what did that feel like? Well-researched historical fiction can take us right into the lives of people who lived through the dramatic events we read about in academic books. I found that each of the novels on my list transported me to a different time and place, and I hope you enjoy them, too.

Flora's book list on historical fiction books with a new take on a famous event

Flora Johnston Why did Flora love this book?

I picked up this book from the shelf of a holiday cottage and was hooked immediately. I love books which interweave personal human stories with big events.

The ordinary loves and lives of the people of Pompeii are unfolding as the mountain above them begins to behave strangely. Of course, we, the readers, know the disaster that is about to occur, which only adds to the suspense. Unputdownable.

By Robert Harris,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Pompeii as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A pulse-rate-speeding masterpiece' Sunday Times

'A stunning novel . . . the subtlety and power of its construction holds our attention to the end' The Times

During a sweltering week in late August, as Rome's richest citizens relax in their villas around Pompeii and Herculaneum, there are ominous warnings that something is going wrong. Wells and springs are failing, a man has disappeared, and now the greatest aqueduct in the world - the mighty Aqua Augusta - has suddenly ceased to flow . . .

Through the eyes of four characters - a young engineer, an adolescent girl, a corrupt…


Book cover of Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age

Neil Cochrane Author Of The Story of the Hundred Promises

From my list on healing your heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

Between my upbringing and my personal flavors of mental health, I spent a good portion of my adult life trying to perfect myself, whether by suppressing my queerness or by going to extremes with the facets of my personality that others liked best. The last five or six years have been devoted to unpacking those thought processes, and reclaiming a life guided by kindness towards myself and others. I believe books are crucial to the introspection, expansion, and connection we all crave so much; I know they’ve been indispensable to me in rediscovering my own heart.

Neil's book list on healing your heart

Neil Cochrane Why did Neil love this book?

This book became an instant favorite for the way it zeroes in on each of the four titular cities—only one of which I’d ever heard of—and sifts its layers in a way that makes it feel alive from top to bottom. Reading through it was a beautiful reminder of how little we know about the past, and yet, how similar our ancestors are to us in the things that are important to them. The gift of this book is its curiosity and tenderness towards its subjects, and it inspires the same open-mindedness. 

By Annalee Newitz,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Four Lost Cities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Four Lost Cities, acclaimed science journalist Annalee Newitz takes readers on an entertaining and mind-bending adventure into the deep history of urban life. Investigating across the centuries and around the world, Newitz explores the rise and fall of four ancient cities, each the centre of a sophisticated civilisation: the Neolithic site of Catalhoeyuk in Central Turkey, the Roman town of Pompeii on Italy's southern coast, the medieval megacity of Angkor in Cambodia and the indigenous American metropolis Cahokia, which stood beside the Mississippi River where East St. Louis is today.

Newitz travels to all four sites and investigates the…


Book cover of The Last Days of Pompeii

Judith Harris Author Of Pompeii Awakened: A Story of Rediscovery

From my list on the joys of life in classical antiquity.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a freelance journalist in Italy, I covered, for Time magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and others, tough topics: terrorism, the Mafia, the heroin traffic which passed via Sicilian laboratories to the U.S. At a certain point I found this overly negative. After taking a course in Rome on archaeology, by chance I was asked to direct a BBC half-hour documentary on Pompeii. In so doing, I realized that it was  time to focus upon the many positive elements of Italian life and history. From that life-changing documentary came this book on Pompeii, on which I worked for five rewarding years. My next book was on historical Venice.

Judith's book list on the joys of life in classical antiquity

Judith Harris Why did Judith love this book?

Edward Bulwer Lytton's influential 19th century novel The Last Days of Pompeii was inspired by a painting he had seen in Milan. He immediately rushed to Pompeii, where his book was published in 1834, by coincidence exactly when Vesuvius erupted. It became an immediate success and is still being published. As Benjamen Disraeli wrote that November, "A trembling spectator, I watched the artists till I was overcome by the phantasma, and was glad to find myself once more in the solitude of my armchair." Available in economic form. The book became an immediate success and is still being adapted to today's media.

By Edward Bulwer-Lytton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873) was a prolific novelist, poet and playwright in his day; in modern times, his work is considered much as Lovecraft described: “large doses of turgid rhetoric and empty romanticism.”

Originally published in 1834, "The Last Days of Pompeii" itself was probably the first novelization of the catastrophic event.  The city was rediscovered in the mid-1700s and archaeological excavations followed soon after.  Bulwer-Lytton was inspired to write his novel by the painting The Last Day of Pompeii by Karl Briullov, painted in the early 1830s.

"The Last Days of Pompeii" tells the story of the Athenian Glaucus, his…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Pompeii, graffiti, and the Roman Empire?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Pompeii, graffiti, and the Roman Empire.

Pompeii Explore 20 books about Pompeii
Graffiti Explore 11 books about graffiti
The Roman Empire Explore 167 books about the Roman Empire