100 books like Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts

By Christopher De Hamel,

Here are 100 books that Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts fans have personally recommended if you like Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Blood and Roses: One Family's Struggle and Triumph During the Tumultuous Wars of the Roses

Marion Turner Author Of Chaucer: A European Life

From my list on medieval life.

Who am I?

Marion Turner is a Professor of English Literature at Oxford University where she teaches medieval literature. Her critically-acclaimed biography of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer was picked as a Book of the Year by the Times, the Sunday Times, the New Statesman, and the TLS, and has been hailed as ‘an absolute triumph,’ and a ‘masterpiece.’ It won the British Academy Rose Mary Crawshay Prize and the English Association Beatrice White Prize, and was shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize.

Marion's book list on medieval life

Marion Turner Why did Marion love this book?

This book tells the story of the wars of the Roses through the lens of one family – the Pastons. This family left an extraordinary archive of letters, and it included many fascinating characters, especially women. The Paston women fought off sieges on their houses, wrote Valentine letters to their husbands, ran off with servants, and managed complicated household finances. As a family, the Pastons were social climbers, who tried to get on at court and to improve their position. Through them, we hear about high politics, but also about the domestic life and loves of the gentry in the fifteenth century. In this book, Helen Castor writes a kind of family biography, expansive, gripping, and detailed. It is both first-class research and a great story.

By Helen Castor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A gripping family saga. . . . Page-turners are rarely written by scholars of the 15th century, but Castor wears her learning admirably lightly. Blood and Roses is nothing less than a ripping yarn.” —The Indepedent (London)

The Wars of the Roses tore England asunder. Over the course of thirty years, four kings lost their thrones, countless men lost their lives on the battlefield or their heads on the block, and others found themselves suddenly flush with gold. Yet until now, little has been written about the ordinary people who lived through this extraordinary time.

Blood and Roses is a…


Book cover of Medieval Bodies: Life, Death and Art in the Middle Ages

Coirle Mooney Author Of My Lady's Shadow: Power and intrigue in Medieval France

From my list on escape the everyday into sensuous landscapes.

Who am I?

In the Spring of 2006, I went to the south of France searching for troubadours. It was my MA year and my thesis was looking at the influence of the courtly love tradition on Chaucer’s writing. Troubadours (and the female, trobairitz) were nowhere to be found. The closest I came was a café named Le Troubadour. However, evidence of their lyrics was there in the beauty and lushness of Languedoc in spring. I'm always drawn to the poetry, landscapes, and love stories of the past and have experienced how these connections enrich my life. I've completed a PhD in seventeenth-century literature and become an historical fiction novelist and a devotee of history and historical fiction. 

Coirle's book list on escape the everyday into sensuous landscapes

Coirle Mooney Why did Coirle love this book?

This non-fiction book is a marvellous study of the Medieval mindset.

With suberb illustrations, both in drawing and words, containing great humour, extraordinary beliefs, fantastical creatures, and surprising passion, dipping into this book is an uplifting experience. Were people really so very different then?

Dive into this book and enter the landscape, anthropology, and metamorphosis of Medieval times. With a narrative style that is precise, yet playful, the author captures this elusive period into a net of riches for our pleasure, entertainment, and education.

By Jack Hartnell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Just like us, medieval men and women worried about growing old, got blisters and indigestion, fell in love, and had children. And yet their lives were full of miraculous and richly metaphorical experiences radically different from our own, unfolding in a world where deadly wounds might be healed overnight by divine intervention, or where the heart of a king, plucked from his corpse, could be held aloft as a powerful symbol of political rule.

In this richly illustrated and unusual history, Jack Hartnell uncovers the fascinating ways in which people thought about, explored, and experienced their physical selves in the…


Book cover of Growing Up in Medieval London: The Experience of Childhood in History

Marion Turner Author Of Chaucer: A European Life

From my list on medieval life.

Who am I?

Marion Turner is a Professor of English Literature at Oxford University where she teaches medieval literature. Her critically-acclaimed biography of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer was picked as a Book of the Year by the Times, the Sunday Times, the New Statesman, and the TLS, and has been hailed as ‘an absolute triumph,’ and a ‘masterpiece.’ It won the British Academy Rose Mary Crawshay Prize and the English Association Beatrice White Prize, and was shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize.

Marion's book list on medieval life

Marion Turner Why did Marion love this book?

I learnt so much from this book when I was writing my biography of Chaucer. It is hard to find out information about childhood in history, and yet it is impossible to try to understand a society if we don’t know how children were brought up, what games they played, how they were educated, what adolescence was like. This book tells us about all those things. You can find out about how children learnt to read, what happened to orphans, the opportunities for pre-marital sex. Looking at a wide range of historical records and literary texts, Hanawalt pieces together a remarkably complete picture of medieval childhood. Looking at causes of death, for example, tells her where male and female children spent their time and what they were likely to be doing (boys were more likely to be outside). And archaeological finds reveal what kinds of toys children played with. Fascinating…

By Barbara A. Hanawalt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Barbara Hanawalt's acclaimed history The Ties That Bound first appeared, it was hailed for its unprecedented research and vivid re-creation of medieval life. David Levine, writing in The New York Times Book Review, called Hanawalt's book "as stimulating for the questions it asks as for the answers it provides" and he concluded that "one comes away from this stimulating book with the same sense of wonder that Thomas Hardy's Angel Clare felt [:]
'The impressionable peasant leads a larger, fuller, more dramatic life than the pachydermatous king.'"
Now, in Growing Up in Medieval London, Hanawalt again reveals the larger,…


Book cover of Making a Living in the Middle Ages: The People of Britain 850-1520

Marion Turner Author Of Chaucer: A European Life

From my list on medieval life.

Who am I?

Marion Turner is a Professor of English Literature at Oxford University where she teaches medieval literature. Her critically-acclaimed biography of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer was picked as a Book of the Year by the Times, the Sunday Times, the New Statesman, and the TLS, and has been hailed as ‘an absolute triumph,’ and a ‘masterpiece.’ It won the British Academy Rose Mary Crawshay Prize and the English Association Beatrice White Prize, and was shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize.

Marion's book list on medieval life

Marion Turner Why did Marion love this book?

For me, this isn’t a book that I read cover to cover; it is a book that I very frequently refer to when I want information. This is my go-to book when I want to check how much a labourer was paid, and what that money would buy, for example. It is an economic history and, as such, helps you to understand the fundamentals of how medieval society worked and was put together. So you can find out not only about the life of an aristocrat, but about the life of a peasant, free or unfree, and about life in the countryside as well as life in towns or in great households. It covers almost 700 years of history, so it also demonstrates how much changed across this long and varied period – starting hundreds of years before the Norman Conquest, and ending in the reign of Henry VIII, when…

By Christopher Dyer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Making a Living in the Middle Ages as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dramatic social and economic change during the middle ages altered the lives of the people of Britain in far-reaching ways, from the structure of their families to the ways they made their livings. In this masterly book, preeminent medieval historian Christopher Dyer presents a fresh view of the British economy from the ninth to the sixteenth century and a vivid new account of medieval life. He begins his volume with the formation of towns and villages in the ninth and tenth centuries and ends with the inflation, population rise, and colonial expansion of the sixteenth century.

This is a book…


Book cover of The World of Aldus Manutius: Business and Scholarship in Renaissance Venice

Ross King Author Of The Bookseller of Florence: The Story of the Manuscripts That Illuminated the Renaissance

From my list on books about books.

Who am I?

Ross King is the author of numerous books about Italian and French art and architecture, including Brunelleschi’s Dome, Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling, and Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies. As a full-time writer, he spends much of his time in libraries, archives, and the among piles of books on his overcrowded shelves.

Ross' book list on books about books

Ross King Why did Ross love this book?

More than forty years after its first publication, this biographical study is still one the best things ever written on Manutius—arguably the most important printer in history after Gutenberg. Lowry shows how this obscure teacher of Greek moved to Venice in 1490 and became not only a printer and designer of genius but also a shrewd businessman whose publications put the wisdom of the Greeks and Romans into the hands of everyday readers. As Lowry explains, the concerns of Manutius ring an all-too-modern tone: how to disseminate information without “the debasement and dilution of learning” and “the spread only of confusion, obscenity, and heresy.”

By Martin Lowry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hardcover, green cloth, 1st U.S. Edition, a clean bright copy in dust jacket that has minor dust soil, light wear and is now protected in a clear Brodart cover. Contents clean and unmarked, 350pp, includes bibliography, index, b/w illustrations, notes at the end of each chapter. Publisher's statements: "The relationship between Renaissance scholarship and printing is the subject of this fascinating biographical study. The book centers on the life and work of Aldus Manutius (1450-1515), printer and man of letters--his background, his business practices, and his impact on the intellectual life of the times. Martin Lowry discusses the structure of…


Book cover of The Book on the Bookshelf

Arthur der Weduwen Author Of The Library: A Fragile History

From my list on the history of the library.

Who am I?

I am a historian at the University of St Andrews, and an expert in the history of books, media, and communication. My working life has revolved around libraries: I stacked shelves at my local university library while I was an undergraduate, and have since worked as a researcher in some hundred reading rooms in twenty countries (and I am therefore the proud owner of many library cards, expired and current). I am also an avid book collector, and have a growing collection of seventeenth and eighteenth-century books, mostly printed in my native Netherlands. Writing a history of libraries was an enjoyable tribute to those fine institutions, historic and present.

Arthur's book list on the history of the library

Arthur der Weduwen Why did Arthur love this book?

Why do our libraries, those at home, at university, or in the public library network, look the way they do? Many people would agree that books are best stored upright on shelves, spine out, but how did we come to that conclusion? This delightful book offers all the answers, and incidentally reveals more than you could ever think of to ask about the manner in which we take care of, store, and display books. It might even give you some inspiration on how to arrange your own collection.

By Henry Petroski,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Book on the Bookshelf as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

He has been called "the poet laureate of technology" and a writer who is "erudite, witty, thoughtful, and accessible." Now Henry Petroski turns to the subject of books and bookshelves, and wonders whether it was inevitable that books would come to be arranged vertically as they are today on horizontal shelves. As we learn how the ancient scroll became the codex became the volume we are used to, we explore the ways in which the housing of books evolved. Petroski takes us into the pre-Gutenberg world, where books were so scarce they were chained to lecterns for security. He explains…


Book cover of The Swerve: How the World Became Modern

Benjamin Hoffmann Author Of The Paradoxes of Posterity

From my list on why people write books.

Who am I?

I grew up in Bordeaux, a city that became prominent during the eighteenth century. My hometown inspired my love of eighteenth-century French studies, which led me to the Sorbonne, then to Yale University where I earned a PhD. Today, I am an Associate Professor at The Ohio State University. I am the author of eight novels and monographs published in France and the US, including American Pandemonium, Posthumous America, and Sentinel Island. My work explores numerous genres to question a number of recurring themes: exile and the representation of otherness; nostalgia and the experience of bereavement; the social impact of new technologies; America’s history and its troubled present.

Benjamin's book list on why people write books

Benjamin Hoffmann Why did Benjamin love this book?

While The Swerve is not exactly a book about posterity, it nonetheless provides a wonderful case study of a text that remained on the verge of destruction for centuries, before going on to play a tremendously influential role in shaping our modern world. This book is none other than On The Nature of Things by Lucretius –one of the foundational texts of Western culture, whose impact was postponed to the fifteenth century, as it would not have seen the light of day without its serendipitous rediscovery in a German monastery by Poggio Bracciolini (1380-1459). This gripping work offers a fascinating example of the delayed reception of a prominent cultural object, a proof of its extraordinary resilience, and, at the same time, an illustration of the role played by chance and accidents on the transmission of texts to posterity. 

By Stephen Greenblatt,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Swerve as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the winter of 1417, a short, genial, cannily alert man in his late thirties plucked a very old manuscript off a dusty shelf in a remote monastery, saw with excitement what he had discovered, and ordered that it be copied. He was Poggio Bracciolini, the greatest book hunter of the Renaissance. His discovery, Lucretius' ancient poem On the Nature of Things, had been almost entirely lost to history for more than a thousand years.

It was a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas: that the universe functions without the aid of gods, that religious fear is damaging to…


Book cover of The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books: Christopher Columbus, His Son, and the Quest to Build the World's Greatest Library

Andrew Pettegree Author Of The Library: A Fragile History

From my list on the history of communication.

Who am I?

I started academic life as a historian of the Protestant Reformation, and gradually shifted to the history of communication, in the process creating a major online resource documenting publications from all over the world in the first two centuries of printing, the Universal Short Title Catalogue. After several works on books, news, and information culture I teamed up with another St Andrews colleague, Arthur der Weduwen, to enjoy the pleasures of co-authorship: this book, a history of libraries and book collecting, is our fourth collaboration.

Andrew's book list on the history of communication

Andrew Pettegree Why did Andrew love this book?

What do you do if your father has just discovered whole new continents? In the case of Hernando, son of Christopher Columbus, the answer was to conquer a new world of his own: the new universe of printed books. In this beautifully written and accessible study, Edward Wilson-Lee explores Hernando’s quixotic yet determined attempt to emulate the library of ancient Alexandria by creating a universal library of print. It does not end well.

By Edward Wilson-Lee,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This impeccably researched and “adventure-packed” (The Washington Post) account of the obsessive quest by Christopher Columbus’s son to create the greatest library in the world is “the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters” (NPR) and offers a vivid picture of Europe on the verge of becoming modern.

At the peak of the Age of Exploration, Hernando Colón sailed with his father Christopher Columbus on his final voyage to the New World, a journey that ended in disaster, bloody mutiny, and shipwreck. After Columbus’s death in 1506, eighteen-year-old Hernando sought to continue—and surpass—his father’s campaign to explore the boundaries of the known world…


Book cover of The Making of the Middle Ages

David Horspool Author Of Richard III: A Ruler and his Reputation

From my list on to show you why medieval isn’t an insult.

Who am I?

I've been fascinated by medieval history ever since I played hide and seek around Welsh castles as a boy. At university – a medieval invention, of course – I was able to sit at the feet of some of the finest historians of the Middle Ages, experts like Maurice Keen and Patrick Wormald. As a writer, I have tackled medieval subjects like Alfred the Great and Richard III, as well as the history of English rebellion. I have come to realise that the Middle Ages could be cruel and violent, just like our own time, but that they were also a time of extraordinary achievements that form the foundations of the world we live in.

David's book list on to show you why medieval isn’t an insult

David Horspool Why did David love this book?

This was the first book to open my eyes to the strangeness and sophistication of medieval life. To an English reader, its focus on the European Middle Ages is revelatory, as is its concentration on writers and travellers rather than kings and knights. At the time he wrote the book, the brilliant Richard Southern was hospitalized with tuberculosis. The book seems to be a distillation of a lifelong passion, which, fortunately, he was able to pursue for another four decades.

By R.W. Southern,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Making of the Middle Ages as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A distinguished Oxford historian presents an absorbing study of the main personalities and the influences that molded the history of Western Europe from the late tenth to the early thirteenth century, describing the chief forms of social, political, and religious organization.
"A book of rare value."-Sidney Painter, American Historical Review


Book cover of Autumntide of the Middle Ages

Larry Silver Author Of Europe Views the World, 1500-1700

From my list on values in European historical periods.

Who am I?

A retired professor, an art historian who taught at Berkeley, Northwestern, and the University of Pennsylvania. Since my main interest is the emergence of Europe from the late Middle Ages and into the Early Modern period around 1500, I naturally gravitate to non-fiction books that engage with the shifting interests and values of that era, and my own books include similar efforts to discuss visual art in relation to religion, literature, politics, and wider contemporary cultural movements. Among my own books I would cite: Rubens, Velázquez, and the King of Spain (with Aneta Georgievska-Shine); Europe Views the World, 1500-1700; and the forthcoming Art and Dis-Illusion in the Long Sixteenth Century.

Larry's book list on values in European historical periods

Larry Silver Why did Larry love this book?

One of the great works of historical recreation, which reads like a novel but is based on a voluminous study of texts, art, and history. Huizinga recreates the violent tenor and pervasive Christian spirituality of late medieval life, as well as a corresponding chivalric secular side, lived out by French and Burgundian nobility.

By Johan Huizinga, Diane Webb (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Autumntide of the Middle Ages as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This new English translation of Huizinga’s Autumntide of the Middle Ages (Herfsttij der Middeleeuwen) celebrates the centenary of a book that still ranks as one of the most perceptive and in¿uential analyses of the late medieval period. Its wide-ranging discussion of fourteenth and ¿fteenth century France and the Low Countries makes it a classic study of life, culture, and thought in medieval society. The new and now unabridged translation of the original text captures the impact of Huizinga’s deep scholarship and powerful language. The translation is based on the Dutch edition of 1941 – the last edition Huizinga worked on.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Middle Ages, illuminated manuscripts, and Europe?

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, illuminated manuscripts, and Europe.

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