100 books like Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres

By Henry Adams,

Here are 100 books that Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres fans have personally recommended if you like Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres. 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 The Nomad: Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt

Louisa Waugh Author Of Hearing Birds Fly: A Nomadic Year in Mongolia

From my list on the intimate lives of landscapes.

Why am I passionate about this?

Louisa Waugh is a writer, blogger, and the prize-winning author of three non-fiction books: Hearing Birds Fly, Selling Olga, and Meet Me in Gaza. She has lived and worked in the Middle East, Central and West Africa, and is a conflict adviser for an international peace-building organisation. She blogs at The Waugh Zone and currently lives in Brighton, on the southern English coast, where she kayaks and drinks red wine on the beach, usually not at the same time.

Louisa's book list on the intimate lives of landscapes

Louisa Waugh Why did Louisa love this book?

Isabelle Eberhardt was born in 1877. She was “a crossdresser and sensualist, an experienced drug taker and a transgressor of boundaries”. Born in Switzerland, she crossed the Sahara Desert on horseback dressed as a male marabout, driven by a hunger for nomadic adventures, and for love. Isabelle’s evocative diaries are intense, beautifully written, self-centred and dramatic, occasionally very funny. She fell madly in love with the Sahara, was accused of being a spy, married a young Algerian soldier, and drowned in a desert flash flood at the age of 27. This book is about a short life that burned radiantly and the desiccated landscape that mirrored her intensity.

By Isabelle Eberhardt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Eberhardt's journal chronicles the daring adventures of a late 19th-century European woman who traveled the Sahara desert disguised as an Arab man and adopted Islam. Includes a glossary. Previously published in English by Virago Press in 1987, and as The Passionate Nomad by Virago/Beacon Press in 19


Book cover of In Patagonia

Nicholas Shakespeare Author Of Ian Fleming: The Complete Man

From my list on post-war Latin America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a British novelist and biographer who lived on and off in Latin America from the 1960s to the late 1980s. I was a boy in Brazil during the Death Squads; an adolescent in Argentina during the Dirty War; and a young journalist in Peru during the Shining Path insurgency, publishing a reportage for Granta on my search for Abimael Guzman. I gave the 2010 Borges Lecture and have written two novels set in Peru, the second of which, The Dancer Upstairs, was chosen as the best novel of 1995 by the American Libraries Association and turned into a film by John Malkovich.

Nicholas' book list on post-war Latin America

Nicholas Shakespeare Why did Nicholas love this book?

Neither novel nor travel book, this classic journey defies category.

Purportedly a quest for a scrap of giant slothskin, which the author finds in a cave in southern Chile, it zig-zags through time and space, alighting on travellers from Magellan to Butch Cassidy, while trampling down conventional boundaries.

“Everyone says: ‘Are you writing a novel?’ No, I’m writing a story and I do rather insist that things must be called stories. That seems to me to be what they are. I don’t quite know the meaning of the word novel.” 

By Bruce Chatwin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The book that redefined travel writing' Guardian

Bruce Chatwin sets off on a journey through South America in this wistful classic travel book

With its unique, roving structure and beautiful descriptions, In Patagonia offers an original take on the age-old adventure tale. Bruce Chatwin's journey to a remote country in search of a strange beast brings along with it a cast of fascinating characters. Their stories delay him on the road, but will have you tearing through to the book's end.

'It is hard to pin down what makes In Patagonia so unique, but, in the end, it is Chatwin's…


Book cover of Video Night in Kathmandu: And Other Reports from the Not-So-Far-East

Francesca Spencer Author Of Welcome to the State of Kuwait

From my list on capturing culture through observation and humour.

Why am I passionate about this?

Funny stuff happens all the time in my wafty, solo-travelling life. Sometimes that funny stuff will only become apparent after the proverbial dust has settled and I’m no longer in imminent danger or at my wit’s end: the hilarity of a situation reveals itself when I’m telling the story. Travelling alone puts you in a vulnerable position of being open to ‘the moment’ far more so than when you are travelling with someone else. I get a sense of place and people and write about what happens true to my voice which is intrinsically connected to my funny bone—an intention to capture culture through accurate observation and tragi-comic humour. 

Francesca's book list on capturing culture through observation and humour

Francesca Spencer Why did Francesca love this book?

I read Video Night in Kathmandu when I was travelling in India the first time around. It was an education in East-West relations and opened my eyes to travel being a huge privilege. I also learned to arrive in a new place with, as far as possible, no expectations. Pico Iyer is incredibly insightful and draws attention to the fluidity of culture. He acknowledges his Indian roots and how your own cultural heritage can’t help but colour your experience of a place: something to be mindful of. The video mentioned in the title is Rambo, rammed full of western hegemonic ideals, which, weirdly, was a smash hit everywhere in Asia. Iyer’s observations are absolutely on point, entertaining, highlighting the bizarre which, of course, is very funny, as well as thought-provoking.

By Pico Iyer,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Video Night in Kathmandu as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Pico Iyer began his travels, he wanted to know how Rambo conquered Asia. Why did Dire Straits blast out over Hiroshima, Bruce Springsteen over Bali and Madonna over all? If he was eager to learn where East meets West, how pop culture and imperialism penetrated through the world's most ancient civilisations, then the truths he began to uncover were more startling, more subtle, more complex than he ever anticipated. Who was hustling whom? When did this pursuit of illusions and vested interests, with it's curious mix of innocence and calculation, turn from confrontation into the mating dance? Iyer travelled…


Book cover of Wanderlust: A History of Walking

Jim Miller Author Of Drift

From my list on urban wandering and subterranean history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I teach literature, Labor Studies, and writing at San Diego City College and have written three San Diego-based novels: Drift, Flash, and Last Days in Ocean Beach, along with Under the Perfect Sun: The San Diego Tourists Never See, a radical history of San Diego that I co-wrote with Mike Davis and Kelly Mayhew. Both as a writer and as a daily wanderer on the streets of San Diego, I have a passion for the psychogeography of the city space and a deep curiosity for and love of the people I encounter there.

Jim's book list on urban wandering and subterranean history

Jim Miller Why did Jim love this book?

This book really got to me because it offers a rich and quixotic history of walking that encompasses the Romantics, the French flaneurs, and a host of other wanderers. In her chapter on San Francisco, Solnit re-maps the space of her home city in a way that outlines her own rediscovery and gave me new eyes to see a place that I love.

By Rebecca Solnit,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A passionate, thought provoking exploration of walking as a political and cultural activity, from the author of the memoir Recollections of My Nonexistence

Drawing together many histories--of anatomical evolution and city design, of treadmills and labyrinths, of walking clubs and sexual mores--Rebecca Solnit creates a fascinating portrait of the range of possibilities presented by walking. Arguing that the history of walking includes walking for pleasure as well as for political, aesthetic, and social meaning, Solnit focuses on the walkers whose everyday and extreme acts have shaped our culture, from philosophers to poets to mountaineers. She profiles some of the most…


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 Furta Sacra: Thefts of Relics in the Central Middle Ages

John Tolan Author Of Faces of Muhammad: Western Perceptions of the Prophet of Islam from the Middle Ages to Today

From my list on making you realize you don’t know what religion is.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the 1980s, I was living in Spain, teaching high school. On weekends and vacations, I traveled throughout the country, fascinated with the remnants of its flourishing medieval civilization, where Jews, Christians, and Muslims mingled. When I later became a historian, I focused on the rich history of Jewish-Christian-Muslim contact in Spain and throughout the Mediterranean. I also wanted to understand conflict and prejudice, particularly the historical roots of antisemitism and islamophobia in Europe. I have increasingly realized that classical religious texts need to be reread and contextualized and that we need to rethink our ideas about religion and religious conflict.

John's book list on making you realize you don’t know what religion is

John Tolan Why did John love this book?

In the US, when we think about Christianity, we tend not to think much about saints and when we do, they are at best a sort of role model for piety, an antiquated cast of characters in the history of religion. But to early Christians, saints were powerful patrons. The earliest saints were the martyrs put to death by the pagan Roman state: thrown to the lions, massacred by gladiators, executed at the orders of Roman officials. These saints’ bodies and tombs became objects of veneration, purported to produce miracles. In the middle ages, as Christianity became the dominant force in Europe, everyone wanted to benefit from the proximity to these holy men and women. But if you lived in Northern Europe, you didn’t have access to the hundreds of saintly bodies buried in Spain, Italy, or Provence. What to do? Buy them or steal them! In this fascinating book,…

By Patrick J. Geary,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

To obtain sacred relics, medieval monks plundered tombs, avaricious merchants raided churches, and relic-mongers scoured the Roman catacombs. In a revised edition of Furta Sacra, Patrick Geary considers the social and cultural context for these acts, asking how the relics were perceived and why the thefts met with the approval of medieval Christians.


Book cover of Life in Medieval Europe: Fact and Fiction

Madina Papadopoulos Author Of The Step-Spinsters

From my list on transporting you to medieval life.

Why am I passionate about this?

Madina Papadopoulos is a New Orleans-born, New York-based freelance writer and author. She is currently working on the sequel to The Step-Spinsters, the first in the Unspun Fairytale series, which retells classic princess stories set in the late Middle Ages. She studied French and Italian at Tulane University and received her MFA in screenwriting at UCLA. After teaching foreign languages at the university level, as well as in childhood and elementary school programs, she developed and illustrated foreign language coloring workbooks for preschoolers. As a freelance writer, she focuses on food, drinks, and entertainment.

Madina's book list on transporting you to medieval life

Madina Papadopoulos Why did Madina love this book?

Dani​​èle Cybulskie, AKA “the 5 Minute Medievalist,” is a Medieval Influencer with books, a podcast, and blogs, all offering the world quickly digestible knowledge of this millennium in history. In her book, Life in Medieval Europe, Fact and Fiction, she takes us through a fun game of True or False. The grouping of the Middle Ages spans a confusingly long time, from around the late 400s to the late 1400s. Various traditions can be fit into those thousand years, one would think that by sheer probability most of our Medieval stereotypes would fit into one of those centuries. Interestingly enough, a good amount of what films set in Medieval Times is hilariously incorrect. Pick it up and start your guessing.

By Danièle Cybulskie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Have you ever found yourself watching a show or reading a novel and wondering what life was really like in the Middle Ages? What did people actually eat? Were they really filthy? And did they ever get to marry for love?

In Medieval Europe in Fact and Fiction, you'll find fast and fun answers to all your secret questions, from eating and drinking to sex and love. Find out whether people bathed, what they did when they got sick, and what actually happened to people accused of crimes. Learn about medieval table manners, tournaments, and toothpaste, and find out if…


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 Medieval Women

ffiona Perigrinor Author Of Reluctant Pilgrim: The Book of Margery Kempe's Maidservant

From my list on why you wouldn’t want to travel with Margery Kempe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’d already published a scholarly book about the household of a medieval widow, who was just a decade older than Margery Kempe and lived sixty miles away, so the time, place, and mindset seemed very familiar. As a Jungian Psychoanalyst I’m interested in how individuals find the central meaning in their lives. Clearly for Margery it was the search for God, although she doesn’t appear to have been a kindly soul. When I read that she twice quarreled with her maidservant, I realised the maidservant could tell her own tale. And so she did, and sometimes it seemed she was dictating it to me! Characters really do speak for themselves... 

ffiona's book list on why you wouldn’t want to travel with Margery Kempe

ffiona Perigrinor Why did ffiona love this book?

Eileen Power was a pioneer in Women’s History and this was the first book I read when I went back to university. It’s an inspiring collection of essays on medieval ideas of women, working women in town and country, education, and nunneries. If you’re planning to write a book about women in the Middle Ages, start your research here.

Power refers to many diverse contemporary texts such as The Goodman of Paris and works by Chaucer and Christine de Pisan, which enabled me (or, which will enable you) to portray authentic detail in my own book. The essay on nunneries, which I drew on for my novel, is a summary of her seminal work on medieval English nunneries. There are also forty-two well-chosen illustrations that complement the text.

By Eileen Power,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Throughout her career as a medieval historian, Eileen Power was engaged on a book about women in the Middle Ages. She did not live to write the book but some of the material she collected found its way into her popular lectures on medieval women. These lectures were brought together and edited by M. M. Postan. They reveal the world in which women lived, were educated, worked and worshipped. Power gives a vivid account of the worlds of the lady, the peasant, the townswoman and the nun. The result is a historical yet intimate picture of a period gone by…


Book cover of The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe

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?

Whenever I travel across Europe, I make a point to stop by the local museum or history exhibition to see how the Early Middle Ages are presented to the public. It is striking how often the narrative presumes the continuity of people living today and their “ancestors” who have been dead for a thousand years. In The Myth of Nations, Patrick Geary sets out to show that this idea is not only complete nonsense but also incredibly dangerous in the hands of ethno-nationalist politicians. Part withering polemic and part careful scholarly study, Geary harshly rebukes historians and archaeologists who have helped to collapse the temporal distance between the past and present while offering his own account of the complex and nuanced ways in which social identity operated within the late Roman and early medieval worlds.        

By Patrick J. Geary,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Modern-day Europeans by the millions proudly trace back their national identities to the Celts, Franks, Gauls, Goths, Huns, or Serbs--or some combination of the various peoples who inhabited, traversed, or pillaged their continent more than a thousand years ago. According to Patrick Geary, this is historical nonsense. The idea that national character is fixed for all time in a simpler, distant past is groundless, he argues in this unflinching reconsideration of European nationhood. Few of the peoples that many Europeans honor as sharing their sense of "nation" had comparably homogeneous identities; even the Huns, he points out, were firmly united…


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