100 books like Mysterious Britain

By Janet Bord, Colin Bord,

Here are 100 books that Mysterious Britain fans have personally recommended if you like Mysterious Britain. 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 The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

Nick Inman Author Of A Guide to Mystical France: Secrets, Mysteries, Sacred Sites

From my list on seeing what isn’t there (or is it?).

Why am I passionate about this?

A while ago I lived with the extraordinary spiritual Findhorn community in Scotland and that experience opened my eyes to the mysteries that we are and that surround us. Subsequently, I became a professional travel guide writer and as I visited churches and megaliths, it gradually occurred to me that the ancients may have recorded information useful to us if only we could work out how to interpret it. Twenty years ago I settled in France, a country densely packed with extraordinary places. Here, I have been able to deepen my understanding of the universal, greater reality of which we are part.  

Nick's book list on seeing what isn’t there (or is it?)

Nick Inman Why did Nick love this book?

The late great Alan Watts was the master of reminding us not to take reality – or ourselves – at face value. His prose manages to be simple and profound at the same time and he always has his feet on the earth. I could recommend any of his books but this is the one with which I began. No one else can ever tell me who or what I am. My experience of the world is always subjective, whatever science says; and the best way to see accurately is to get to know myself.

By Alan Watts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Book On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are explores an unrecognised but mighty taboo - our tacit conspiracy to ignore who, or what, we really are. Alan Watts, key thinker of Western Zen Buddhism, explains how to reconsider our relationship with the world.

We are in urgent need of a sense of our own existence, which is in accord with the physical facts and which overcomes our feeling of alienation from the universe. In The Book On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Alan Watts asks what causes the illusion of the self as a separate ego…


Book cover of Romanesque

Nick Inman Author Of A Guide to Mystical France: Secrets, Mysteries, Sacred Sites

From my list on seeing what isn’t there (or is it?).

Why am I passionate about this?

A while ago I lived with the extraordinary spiritual Findhorn community in Scotland and that experience opened my eyes to the mysteries that we are and that surround us. Subsequently, I became a professional travel guide writer and as I visited churches and megaliths, it gradually occurred to me that the ancients may have recorded information useful to us if only we could work out how to interpret it. Twenty years ago I settled in France, a country densely packed with extraordinary places. Here, I have been able to deepen my understanding of the universal, greater reality of which we are part.  

Nick's book list on seeing what isn’t there (or is it?)

Nick Inman Why did Nick love this book?

If you want to be pleasingly perplexed for the rest of your life, start looking closely at Romanesque sculpture from the middle ages (preceding the more famous Gothic style). This doorstopper of a book covering all of Romanesque art and architecture is one place to begin. It’s a collection of essays by experts in the field but even if you don't read the text you can just enjoy the lavish photos that point to the most interesting churches to visit in Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Britain, Scandinavia, and central Europe. There is also an excellent pictorial feature explaining the basics of Romanesque building and decoration. 

By Rolf Toman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Romanesque was the first period in medieval art to include all of Europe. It began around 1000 and did not end with the Staufen late Romanesque in Germany and Italy until about the middle of the thirteenth century. The borrowing of particular elements from Roman architecture, including the round arch, which is considered the hallmark of the Romanesque, led to the coining of the term "Romanesque.'? The majority of the works of architecture, sculpture and painting discussed in this volume can be properly understood only in the context of a Christian view of the world, and Christian way of…


Book cover of The Illustrated Signs & Symbols Sourcebook

Nick Inman Author Of A Guide to Mystical France: Secrets, Mysteries, Sacred Sites

From my list on seeing what isn’t there (or is it?).

Why am I passionate about this?

A while ago I lived with the extraordinary spiritual Findhorn community in Scotland and that experience opened my eyes to the mysteries that we are and that surround us. Subsequently, I became a professional travel guide writer and as I visited churches and megaliths, it gradually occurred to me that the ancients may have recorded information useful to us if only we could work out how to interpret it. Twenty years ago I settled in France, a country densely packed with extraordinary places. Here, I have been able to deepen my understanding of the universal, greater reality of which we are part.  

Nick's book list on seeing what isn’t there (or is it?)

Nick Inman Why did Nick love this book?

Every mystery hunter needs a guide to symbols and this profusely illustrated book is the best I have found so far. Symbols, by definition, point directly to the non-obvious aspects of a greater reality. In religious buildings they are a way to escape the material and approach the numinous, which is beyond the scope of words. Sometimes the meaning of a symbol is clear but in other cases the explanation has been forgotten and you need suggestions as how to interpret it. This is where this book comes in.  

By Adele Nozedar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Illustrated Signs & Symbols Sourcebook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The book is in excellent condition.


Book cover of The Earth Spirit: Its Ways, Shrines and Mysteries

Nick Inman Author Of A Guide to Mystical France: Secrets, Mysteries, Sacred Sites

From my list on seeing what isn’t there (or is it?).

Why am I passionate about this?

A while ago I lived with the extraordinary spiritual Findhorn community in Scotland and that experience opened my eyes to the mysteries that we are and that surround us. Subsequently, I became a professional travel guide writer and as I visited churches and megaliths, it gradually occurred to me that the ancients may have recorded information useful to us if only we could work out how to interpret it. Twenty years ago I settled in France, a country densely packed with extraordinary places. Here, I have been able to deepen my understanding of the universal, greater reality of which we are part.  

Nick's book list on seeing what isn’t there (or is it?)

Nick Inman Why did Nick love this book?

John Michell needs to be mentioned somewhere on my list for his pioneering work into seeing the earth as a living creature with which human beings interact. This is part of a legendary series of illustrated books, Art and the Imagination, which gives serious treatment to subjects that are too often treated in a less rigorous way. Each has an expert introduction and extended picture captions. Other titles cover astrology, alchemy, the Holy Grail, Tao, Zen, the mythical spiral, and sacred geoometry.

By John Michell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Discusses how various ancient cultures worshipped the Earth and shows wells, sacred rocks, standing stones, and symbolic earthworks.


Book cover of Nine Lives Of John Ogilby

Nancy Blanton Author Of When Starlings Fly as One

From my list on Ireland in the 17th century.

Why am I passionate about this?

Nancy Blanton is an American author of Irish descent. She’s written three award-winning Irish historical novels and has a fourth underway. A former journalist, her focus on the 17th century derives from a history lesson about Oliver Cromwell, weariness of Tudor stories, decades of enlightening research, and a little help from supportive friends in County Cork.

Nancy's book list on Ireland in the 17th century

Nancy Blanton Why did Nancy love this book?

While not specifically about Ireland, this is a most fascinating tale and true story about a man who started as a dancer, ran theater in Ireland, became a soldier, sea captain and so much more before he went on to publish the first road atlas in Britain. It’s the quirky details in this book that make it fun to read and quite informative about life in the 17th century.

By Alan Ereira,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nine Lives Of John Ogilby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Four hundred years ago, every barrister had to dance because dancing put them in harmony with the universe. John Ogilby's first job, in 1612, was to teach them. By the 1670s, he was Charles II's Royal Cosmographer, creating beautiful measured drawings that placed roads on maps for the first time. During the intervening years, Ogilby had travelled through fire and plague, war and shipwreck; had been an impresario in Dublin, a poet in London, a soldier and sea captain, as well as a secret agent, publisher and scientific geographer. The world of his youth had been blown up and turned…


Book cover of Mud, Blood and Poppycock: Britain and the Great War

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles Author Of Goodbye, Piccadilly

From my list on most readable books on World War 1.

Why am I passionate about this?

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles is the author of the internationally acclaimed Morland Dynasty books. Five volumes of this comprehensive historical series focus on WW1, covering the military campaigns and the politics behind them. With the approach of the WW1 centennials, she was asked to write about the period again, this time from the point of view of the people who stayed at home. The result was the six-volume series, War At Home, which views the war from a more personal perspective, through the eyes of the fictional Hunter family, their servants, and friends.

Cynthia's book list on most readable books on World War 1

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles Why did Cynthia love this book?

The shout line on the jacket is “This will overturn everything you thought you knew about…The First World War”, and it certainly delivers. No other conflict has been so misrepresented, and for most people, their idea of it comes straight from Blackadder Goes Forth. But men did not spend months at a time in the trenches; a whole generation did not die; the generals were not cowardly, incompetent fools.

When I first began to write about WW1 for my Morland Dynasty series, I knew as little as anyone, and what I thought I knew was all wrong! By the time I was researching for War At Home, I knew a lot more, but Corrigan opens my eyes to many more subjects. Informative, well-researched, but above all wonderfully readable, this book should be required reading for anyone who is interested in what really happened, not just the made-for-tv version.

By Gordon Corrigan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The true story of how Britain won the First World War.

The popular view of the First World War remains that of BLACKADDER: incompetent generals sending brave soldiers to their deaths. Alan Clark quoted a German general's remark that the British soldiers were 'lions led by donkeys'. But he made it up.

Indeed, many established 'facts' about 1914-18 turn out to be myths woven in the 1960s by young historians on the make. Gordon Corrigan's brilliant, witty history reveals how out of touch we have become with the soldiers of 1914-18. They simply would not recognize the way their generation…


Book cover of The Horrible Peace: British Veterans and the End of the Napoleonic Wars

Roger Knight Author Of Convoys: The British Struggle Against Napoleonic Europe and America

From my list on history to change your ideas on the Napoleonic Wars.

Why am I passionate about this?

For fifty years I've studied the British sailing navy, fascinated by its workings, the slow communications, the vagaries of the winds and tides. In parallel with my work in archives, I've sailed in most of the European waters described in Convoys. I worked at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, for 27 years, leaving as Deputy Director in 2000. Since then, I've taught postgraduates and written about Nelson and the British government (Britain against Napoleon), and became convinced that Britain came very close to being defeated by Napoleonic France. If Napoleon had not thrown it all away by his invasion of Russia in 1812, I might be writing this in French, with a very different script! 

Roger's book list on history to change your ideas on the Napoleonic Wars

Roger Knight Why did Roger love this book?

This is a fine new study looking at the lasting impact of the wars from 1815, particularly at the tens of thousands of men who had served in the army and navy.

Although Britain was in much better shape than the Continental economies, more than twenty years of warfare had changed life and industry, and there were few jobs for the returning soldiers and seamen. It led to domestic protest and violence on the streets, sometimes with veterans fighting regular troops and militia. You could not get further from the glossy fiction of C.S. Forester and Patrick O'Brian.

By Evan Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Few battles in world history provide a cleaner dividing line than Waterloo: before, there was Napoleon; after, there was the Pax Britannica. While Waterloo marked France's defeat and Britain's ascendance as an imperial power, the war was far from over for many soldiers and sailors, who were forced to contend with the lasting effects of battlefield trauma, the realities of an impossibly tight labour market, and growing social unrest. The Horrible Peace details a story of distress and discontent, of victory complicated by volcanism, and of the challenges facing Britain at the beginning of its victorious century.

Examining the process…


Book cover of Sport and the British: A Modern History

Robert Colls Author Of This Sporting Life: Sport and Liberty in England, 1760-1960

From my list on sport history from someone who is mad for history.

Why am I passionate about this?

One reason is that I belong to Europe's leading sports institute, the International Centre for Sport History and Culture at De Montfort University in England. The other reason is that I’m mad about all history, not just sports history. I am currently a Professor of History at De Montfort University, Leicester. Before that, I was a Professor of English History at Leicester University.

Robert's book list on sport history from someone who is mad for history

Robert Colls Why did Robert love this book?

Before Holt, the history of the British and their relationship with sport was just a muddy field with some green patches near the press box. Then Holt came along to drain the land, roll the turf, and set the boundaries. Most of all, he explained how modern sport was invented in the leafy streets of the suburban South and the wastes and alleyways of the industrial North. An absolute classic. First published in 1990, a new edition is on its way.

By Richard Holt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This lively and deeply researched history - the first of its kind - goes beyond the great names and moments to explain how British sport has changed since 1800, and what it has meant to ordinary people. It shows how the way we play reflects not just our lives as citizens of a predominantly urban and industrial world, but what is especially distinctive about British sport. Innovators in abandoning traditional, often brutal sports, and in establishing a code of `fair
play', the British were also pioneers in popular sports and in the promotion of organized spectator events.

Modern media coverage…


Book cover of The Rise and Fall of the British Nation: A Twentieth-Century History

John Tilston Author Of Meanjin to Brisvegas: Snapshots of Brisbane's Journey from Colonial Backwater to New World City

From my list on British history beyond cliche, ideology, and spin.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a former journalist. I’m nosey. I like to know what’s going on around me. I like to know how the place I live in has evolved. I was born in the UK, but was taken to southern Africa as a child, so grew up with English parents in a colony of the former British empire. I moved to another former colony - Australia. I worked and lived in London for several years. In all of these places I have been fascinated by the history that shaped them. The books I have recommended and the research I did on my own have all helped me understand my place in the universe.

John's book list on British history beyond cliche, ideology, and spin

John Tilston Why did John love this book?

The Brexit debate in Britain became bogged down in sentiment and myths.

All sorts of people brought up features of imagined history and former glories. Much of it was baloney, but it was not always possible to detect. This scholarly, evidence-based book guided me to a new understanding and appreciation of how my homeland developed over the 20th Century; it overturned some long-held assumptions.

I don’t believe anyone who wishes to understand those times can ignore this book.

By David Edgerton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rise and Fall of the British Nation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Forget almost everything you thought you knew about Britain ... You will not find a better informed history' David Goodhart, Evening Standard

'A striking new perspective on our past' Piers Brendon, Literary Review

From the acclaimed author of Britain's War Machine and The Shock of the Old, a bold reassessment of Britain's twentieth century.

It is usual to see the United Kingdom as an island of continuity in an otherwise convulsed and unstable Europe; its political history a smooth sequence of administrations, from building a welfare state to coping with decline. Nobody would dream of writing the history of Germany,…


Book cover of The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution and the Fate of the Empire

Jack N. Rakove Author Of Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution

From my list on the Revolutionary War and why the British lost it.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became a historian of the American Revolution back in the early 1970s and have been working on that subject ever since. Most of my writings pivot on national politics, the origins of the Constitution, and James Madison. But explaining why the Revolution occurred and why it took the course it did remain subjects that still fascinate me.

Jack's book list on the Revolutionary War and why the British lost it

Jack N. Rakove Why did Jack love this book?

The vast majority of books on the Revolutionary War are written by Americans, and they predictably focus on the conflict from the Patriot side. But throughout the war, the strategic initiative rested with Britain, not the United States. Through a series of brilliant biographical chapters, O’Shaughnessy traces the history of the war and the evolution of British strategy, and its ultimate failure, from the imperial side.

By Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Men Who Lost America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The loss of America was a stunning and unexpected defeat for the powerful British Empire. Common wisdom has held that incompetent military commanders and political leaders in Britain must have been to blame, but were they? This intriguing book makes a different argument. Weaving together the personal stories of ten prominent men who directed the British dimension of the war, historian Andrew O'Shaughnessy dispels the incompetence myth and uncovers the real reasons that rebellious colonials were able to achieve their surprising victory. In interlinked biographical chapters, the author follows the course of the war from the perspectives of King George…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and presidential biography?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the United Kingdom, Ireland, and presidential biography.

The United Kingdom Explore 565 books about the United Kingdom
Ireland Explore 282 books about Ireland
Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography