100 books like In a Dark Wood Wandering

By Hella S. Haasse,

Here are 100 books that In a Dark Wood Wandering fans have personally recommended if you like In a Dark Wood Wandering. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ 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 A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

Charlotte Gray Author Of Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons: The Lives of Jennie Jerome Churchill and Sara Delano Roosevelt

From my list on history books by women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I recall my younger self looking at the reading lists on Oxford University history courses, and asking, “Where are all the women?” I have always wanted to know what it was like to be there, in any century up to the present. How did families form and pass on their values, what did people wear and eat, when (and if) children learned to read, and what were people’s daily routines? Political, military, and economic history is important, but I have flourished in the social history trenches. I discovered women writers and historians have more acute antennae for the details I wanted, even when writing about wars and dynasties.

Charlotte's book list on history books by women

Charlotte Gray Why did Charlotte love this book?

Who knew that an account of a disappeared medieval world could be so gripping?

I’ve always regarded history as a literary and intellectual exercise, and Pulitzer-winning Barbara Tuchman has been my model ever since I picked up this absorbing history of a Europe riven by war, climate catastrophes, plague, and religious schisms.

Academic historians might denigrate Tuchman’s approach, but through pen-portraits and narrative momentum, Tuchman immersed me in a world that had subtle echoes of today.

By Barbara W. Tuchman,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked A Distant Mirror as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The fourteenth century was a time of fabled crusades and chivalry, glittering cathedrals and grand castles. It was also a time of ferocity and spiritual agony, a world of chaos and the plague.

Here, Barbara Tuchman masterfully reveals the two contradictory images of the age, examining the great rhythms of history and the grain and texture of domestic life as it was lived: what childhood was like; what marriage meant; how money, taxes and war dominated the lives of serf, noble and clergy alike.

Granting her subjects their loyalties, treacheries and guilty passions, Tuchman recreates the lives of proud cardinals,…


Book cover of Christine de Pizan: Her Life and Works

Tania Bayard Author Of In The Presence of Evil

From my list on a remarkable medieval woman, Christine de Pizan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an art historian and a horticulturist, specializing in the art, architecture, and gardens of the Middle Ages, and I’ve published a number of books on these subjects. But I’ve always loved mystery stories, and I dreamed of writing one of my own. When I discovered Christine de Pizan, an extraordinary personage who defied all the stereotypes about medieval women, I decided to write a series of mystery novels featuring her as the sleuth.

Tania's book list on a remarkable medieval woman, Christine de Pizan

Tania Bayard Why did Tania love this book?

This is the book to which I turn for all the details of Christine’s life. Willard shows that Christine, who lived from 1364-1430, was an immensely courageous woman who, against all odds in an age that disparaged the female sex, succeeded in making her living as a writer and gained so much respect among the nobility that she was able to comment with impunity on the major political events of her time.

By Charity Cannon Willard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Readers will learn a great deal about Paris during the most tumultuous days of the Hundred Years' War, about the culture of Renaissance France, and most of all about this unusual and heroic woman."―Virginia Quarterly

A biography of France's first woman of letters, who lived from 1364-1429. Among her works is the classic defense of women, The Book of the City of Ladies.

Book cover of The Waning of the Middle Ages: A Study of the Forms of Life, Thought and Art in France and The Netherlands in the XIVth and XVth Centuries

Tania Bayard Author Of In The Presence of Evil

From my list on a remarkable medieval woman, Christine de Pizan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an art historian and a horticulturist, specializing in the art, architecture, and gardens of the Middle Ages, and I’ve published a number of books on these subjects. But I’ve always loved mystery stories, and I dreamed of writing one of my own. When I discovered Christine de Pizan, an extraordinary personage who defied all the stereotypes about medieval women, I decided to write a series of mystery novels featuring her as the sleuth.

Tania's book list on a remarkable medieval woman, Christine de Pizan

Tania Bayard Why did Tania love this book?

I love this classic study in which Huizinga vividly portrays the colorful era in which my heroin, Christine de Pizan, lived. Huizinga shows that late medieval society was full of striking contradictions, among them chivalry vs cruelty, courtly love vs vengeance, blissful visions of heaven vs horrific visions of Hell. 

By Johan Huizinga,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“To the world when it was half a thousand years younger,” Huizinga begins, “the outline of all things seemed more clearly marked than to us.” Life seemed to consist in extremes—a fierce religious asceticism and an unrestrained licentiousness, ferocious judicial punishments and great popular waves of pity and mercy, the most horrible crimes and the most extravagant acts of saintliness—and everywhere a sea of tears, for men have never wept so unrestrainedly as in those centuries.

First published in 1924, this brilliant portrait of the life, thought, and art in France and the Netherlands in the 14th and 15th centuries…


Book cover of Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris

Tania Bayard Author Of In The Presence of Evil

From my list on a remarkable medieval woman, Christine de Pizan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an art historian and a horticulturist, specializing in the art, architecture, and gardens of the Middle Ages, and I’ve published a number of books on these subjects. But I’ve always loved mystery stories, and I dreamed of writing one of my own. When I discovered Christine de Pizan, an extraordinary personage who defied all the stereotypes about medieval women, I decided to write a series of mystery novels featuring her as the sleuth.

Tania's book list on a remarkable medieval woman, Christine de Pizan

Tania Bayard Why did Tania love this book?

Jager’s book is an indispensable source for facts about a famous murder that is the inspiration for one of my future Christine de Pizan novels. In 1407 Duke Jean of Burgundy, known as Jean the Fearless, ordered his henchmen to murder Duke Louis of Orléans, who was his cousin as well as the king’s brother. The provost of France was able to identify Jean as the instigator of the crime, and in my novel Jean takes his revenge by having one of his minions kidnap the provost’s daughter.

By Eric Jager,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A riveting true story of murder and detection in 15th-century Paris, by one of the most brilliant medievalists of his generation.

On a chilly November night in 1407, Louis of Orleans was murdered by a band of masked men. The crime stunned and paralyzed France since Louis had often ruled in place of his brother King Charles, who had gone mad. As panic seized Paris, an investigation began. In charge was the Provost of Paris, Guillaume de Tignonville, the city's chief law enforcement officer--and one of history's first detectives. As de Tignonville began to investigate, he realized that his hunt…


Book cover of Guta Saga: The History of the Gotlanders

Judith Jesch Author Of The Viking Diaspora

From my list on medieval books about Viking Islands.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Professor of Viking Studies at the University of Nottingham and have been teaching, researching, and writing about all aspects of the Viking Age and its aftermath for many years. My particular expertise is in the poetry, sagas, and runic writings of medieval Scandinavia. To understand these, it has been important to me to follow in the footsteps of the Vikings from the Baltic to North America, to see the places they were familiar with, and to experience the traces of their culture in those places. These books tell the stories which will guide the armchair traveller on the same voyages.

Judith's book list on medieval books about Viking Islands

Judith Jesch Why did Judith love this book?

According to this medieval tale, the Baltic island of Gotland was once so enchanted that it sank into the sea during the day and rose up again at night. From these mythical origins, this short saga, written in the special dialect of the island, tells how Gotland became populated, how some of them went east to Russia and Byzantium, how they exchanged their heathen idols for the Christian religion, and their relationship with the King of Sweden. It’s a rare literary insight into the Vikings’ eastern settlements and adventures.

By Christine Peel (translator),

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of The Case for Women in Medieval Culture

Albrecht Classen Author Of Tracing the Trails in the Medieval World: Epistemological Explorations, Orientation, and Mapping in Medieval Literature

From my list on the labyrinth of life through a medieval lens.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a medievalist with a focus on German and European literature. Already with my Ph.D. diss. in 1987, I endeavored to explore interdisciplinary, interlingual connections (German-Italian), and much of my subsequent work (119 scholarly books so far) has continued with this focus. I have developed a large profile of studies on cultural, literary, social, religious, and economic aspects of the pre-modern era. In the last two decades or so, I have researched many concepts pertaining to the history of mentality, emotions, everyday-life conditions, and now also on transcultural and global aspects before 1800. Numerous books and articles have dealt with gender issues, communication, and historical and social conditions as expressed in literature. 

Albrecht's book list on the labyrinth of life through a medieval lens

Albrecht Classen Why did Albrecht love this book?

Contrary to our common assumptions, women in the Middle Ages were not simply muted or repressed. Much depended on the social, economic, religious, and cultural circumstances. Blamires brings to light a wealth of documents that confirm the much more complex conditions for women in the pre-modern age, many of whom received considerable respect if not admiration.

By Alcuin Blamires,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Case for Women in Medieval Culture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Misogyny is of course not the whole story of medieval discourse on women: medieval culture also envisaged a case for women. But hitherto studies of profeminine attitudes in that periods culture have tended to concentrate on courtly literature or on female visionary writings or on attempts to transcend misogyny by major authors such as Christine de Pizan and Chaucer. This book sets out to demonstrate something different: that there existed from early in the Middle
Ages a corpus of substantial traditions in defence of women, on which the more familiar authors drew, and that this corpus itself consolidated strands of…


Book cover of Women, Work, and Life Cycle in a Medieval Economy: Women in York and Yorkshire C.1300-1520

Candace Robb Author Of The Riverwoman's Dragon

From my list on medieval York.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing the Owen Archer mysteries, set in and around the city of York in the late 14th century, for 30 years, ever since falling in love with the city of York on a visit. As I studied medieval literature and culture in graduate school, with a special interest in Chaucer, I’ve focused my research on the period in which he lived. I’ve spent months walking the streets of the city, hiking through the countryside, and meeting with local historians. Besides the 13 Owen Archer mysteries I’ve also published 3 Kate Clifford mysteries covering Richard II’s downfall, both series grounded in the politics and culture of medieval York and Yorkshire. 

Candace's book list on medieval York

Candace Robb Why did Candace love this book?

A classic cited in every title on my list, Goldberg’s book provides a glimpse into the lives of women in the area, both rural and urban. The book grew out of the question, How far was marriage a necessity for medieval women? His focus is on women in the north, with its unique labor issues. To answer the question he examines the economy and how women participated in it, with an emphasis on the changes brought on by the decline in population after the Black Death in the later 14th century.

He covers tradeswomen, servants, prostitutes, farm laborers, with glimpses into the lives they led and how the different groups made choices about marriage. Women in York and Yorkshire chose to enter the workforce, often delaying marriage until it offered a clear advantage, and their economic independence offered them an advantage in making decisions about their future. Gives a…

By P.J.P. Goldberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women, Work, and Life Cycle in a Medieval Economy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is an innovative analysis of the relationship between women's economic opportunity and marriage in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It is based on an intensive study of York and Yorkshire, but also utilizes evidence from other parts of England and continental Europe.

P. J. P. Goldberg explores the role of women in the economy and the part that marriage played in their lives. Importantly, he challenges the Wrigley and Schofield thesis of nuptiality: his analysis of the demography of marriage demonstrates that in late medieval Yorkshire, women participated strongly in the labour force, deferring marriage or avoiding it entirely.…


Book cover of How the Irish Saved Civilization

Angela R. Hughes Author Of Elanor and the Song of the Bard: The Once and Future Chronicles, Book 1

From my list on historical fantasy with twists on Arthurian legend.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by the fantastic since childhood—ever since I read my first book, The Princess & the Goblin. As a young adult, I lived on the Emerald Isle of Ireland and I fell in love with the history and legends of the British Isles. Stories of King Arthur, Saint Patrick, and the mighty warrior Cu Chulainn inspired my imagination. Now through years of studying Arthurian Legend and Celtic Mythos—I write historical fantasy filled with the ageless inspirations of the ancient Celtic world.

Angela's book list on historical fantasy with twists on Arthurian legend

Angela R. Hughes Why did Angela love this book?

As someone who loves history, particularly Celtic history, this one hit me in a really special place in my heart. This little-known history of the Celtic Saints, and particularly Saint Patrick really opened my eyes. It details how Celtic monks quietly saved the written word while barbarians and Vikings burnt Roman literature—which would have made all western thought—even the bible on the threat of extinction. It dazzled me to be given a much bigger perspective on the infamous Book of Kells, and even how schools throughout the western world originated because of these men that hid behind the chaos of the times. All this history by itself was amazing to learn, but even more, the author wrote with wit and charm that made it a fun read.

By Thomas Cahill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How the Irish Saved Civilization as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Shamelessly engaging, effortlessly scholarly, utterly refreshing history of the Irish soul and its huge contribution to Western culture' Thomas Keneally

Ireland played the central role in maintaining European culture when the dark ages settled on Europe in the fifth century: as Rome was sacked by Visigoths and its empire collapsed, Ireland became 'the isle of saints and scholars' that enabled the classical and religious heritage to be saved.

In his compelling and entertaining narrative, Thomas Cahill tells the story of how Irish monks and scrines copied the mauscripts of both pagan and Christian writers, including Homer and Aristotle, while libraries…


Book cover of Magic in Medieval Manuscripts

Anne Lawrence-Mathers Author Of The True History of Merlin the Magician

From my list on Merlin and magic.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by magic and its history since I was at school. One of my first Saturday jobs was as a shelf stacker in Portsmouth Central Library, and I was delighted to discover that the library had a special collection on the occult and magic. I spent as much time dipping into the books as I did shelving them! That interest was sharpened by holiday visits to places with links to magical people and events in the past – and I am very grateful for the patience of my family. I now research and teach medieval magic at Reading University and enjoy discussing spells and instruction manuals on various types of magic.  

Anne's book list on Merlin and magic

Anne Lawrence-Mathers Why did Anne love this book?

Sophie Page is an expert on magic in medieval Europe and in this book she was given free rein to choose fascinating images from the British Library’s collection of medieval manuscripts. 

As somebody who studies medieval manuscripts myself, and loves them as works of art as well as for the historical records they contain, this book is irresistible. 

It’s a little like being given a guided tour through an exhibition on the subject, by someone who really knows how alchemy and astrology – or even necromancy and sorcery – were performed. 

If you want to know how to summon a demon or uncover hidden treasure, you’ll find places to start in this book! 

By Sophie Page,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Magic existed in diverse forms in the Middle Ages: from simple charms to complex and subversive demonic magic. Its negative characteristics were defined by theologians who sought to isolate undesirable rituals and beliefs, but there were also many who believed that the condemned texts and practices were valuable and compatible with orthodox piety. Magic in Medieval Manuscripts explores the place of magic in the medieval world and the contradictory responses it evoked, through an exploration of images and texts in British Library manuscripts. These range from representations of the magician, wise-woman and witch to charms against lightning, wax images for…


Book cover of The Devil’s Historians: How Modern Extremists Abuse the Medieval Past

K. Patrick Fazioli Author Of The Mirror of the Medieval: An Anthropology of the Western Historical Imagination

From my list on the use and abuse of the medieval past.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m not ashamed to admit that my childhood fascination with the distant past was sparked by hours of leafing through The Kingfisher Illustrated History of the World and countless viewings of the “Indiana Jones” movies. Today, I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities at Mercy College and an archaeologist specializing in the eastern Alpine region during Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. The author of three books and numerous scholarly articles, my research interests include ceramic technology, social identity, and the appropriation of the medieval past by modern ideologies.    

K.'s book list on the use and abuse of the medieval past

K. Patrick Fazioli Why did K. love this book?

If you want to understand why everything you think you know about the Middle Ages is (probably) wrong, go pick up a copy of The Devil’s Historians, which chronicles how everyone from the Brothers Grimm and George R. R. Martin to ISIS and Donald Trump have invented a medieval past that reflects their own ideological preoccupations rather than historical reality. With chapters on nationalism, gender, race, and religion, Amy Kaufman and Paul Sturtevant’s book sharply contrasts the one-dimensional Middle Ages found in pop culture and political propaganda with the more complicated, even contradictory, medieval world revealed by contemporary scholarship. 

By Amy Kaufman, Paul Sturtevant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Devil’s Historians as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Amy S. Kaufman and Paul B. Sturtevant examine the many ways in which the medieval past has been manipulated to promote discrimination, oppression, and murder. Tracing the fetish for "medieval times" behind toxic ideologies like nationalism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, misogyny, and white supremacy, Kaufman and Sturtevant show us how the Middle Ages have been twisted for political purposes in every century that followed. The Devil's Historians casts aside the myth of an oppressive, patriarchal medieval monoculture and reveals a medieval world not often shown in popular culture: one that is diverse, thriving, courageous, compelling, and complex.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Middle Ages, Europe, and France?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Middle Ages, Europe, and France.

The Middle Ages Explore 409 books about the Middle Ages
Europe Explore 900 books about Europe
France Explore 885 books about France