100 books like Portugal

By Phil Mailer,

Here are 100 books that Portugal fans have personally recommended if you like Portugal. 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 Silk Roads: A New History of the World

Kenneth W. Harl Author Of Empires of the Steppes: A History of the Nomadic Tribes Who Shaped Civilization

From my list on how the nomadic peoples enriched and shaped civilizations across Eurasia.

Who am I?

I am a Professor Emeritus of Classical and Byzantine History, and I was fascinated by Attila and the Hun and Genghis Khan from early childhood when I decided that I would become a historian. I set out to write the history of the Eurasian nomads from their perspective, and so convey their neglected history to a wider readership.

Kenneth's book list on how the nomadic peoples enriched and shaped civilizations across Eurasia

Kenneth W. Harl Why did Kenneth love this book?

A literate history of the economic and religious history of Europe, the Middle East, and adjacent Eursian steppes from fifth century B.C. down to the opening of the twenty-first century. I found the book a delight to read.

The first ten chapters are complementary to my work Empires of the Steppes. Professor Frankopan, however, continues the story to emergence of the global economy based on oceanic trade. The excellent analysis of colonial rivalries of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is a must reading for understanding the geopolitical role of Eurasia today the Belt and Road initiative of China.

By Peter Frankopan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The No. 1 Sunday Times and international bestseller - a major reassessment of world history in light of the economic and political renaissance in the re-emerging east For centuries, fame and fortune was to be found in the west - in the New World of the Americas. Today, it is the east which calls out to those in search of adventure and riches. The region stretching from eastern Europe and sweeping right across Central Asia deep into China and India, is taking centre stage in international politics, commerce and culture - and is shaping the modern world. This region, the…


Book cover of Salazar: The Dictator Who Refused to Die

Wendy Lee Hermance Author Of Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

From my list on why Portugal is weird.

Who am I?

Wendy Lee Hermance was heard on National Public Radio (NPR) stations with her Missouri Folklore series in the 1980s. She earned a journalism degree from Stephens College, served as Editor and Features Writer for Midwestern and Southern university and regional publications, then settled into writing real estate contracts. In 2012 she attended University of Sydney, earning a master’s degree by research thesis. Her books include Where I’m Going with this Poem, a memoir in poetry and prose. Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat marks her return to feature writing as collections of narrative non-fiction stories.

Wendy's book list on why Portugal is weird

Wendy Lee Hermance Why did Wendy love this book?

My neighbor, who owns the local agricultural store where I buy honey, told me almost casually that his father died in prison under Salazar. 

Gallagher has written 15 books on world history and politics, so I chose his to understand the dictator´s lasting impact on society. Salazar hung with dictator Franco strategically as a shield against Hitler, who he told to lay off all European Jews with Portuguese names because “Portugal does not recognize racial distinctions.” Personally above reproach Salazar was tolerant of homosexuality and promiscuity in others, and he welcomed back exiled and imprisoned opponents into regime leadership. Exploitations by the professional guilds Salazar built exist today, but so does social value on correct and ethical behaviour. 

Maybe my neighbor´s father stole a pig.

By Tom Gallagher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fifty years after his death, Portugal's Salazar remains a controversial and enigmatic figure, whose conservative and authoritarian legacy still divides opinion. Some see him as a reactionary and oppressive figure who kept Portugal backward, while others praise his honesty, patriotism and dedication to duty. Contemporary radicals are wary of his unabashed elitism and scepticism about social progress, but many conservatives give credit to his persistent warnings about the threats to Western civilisation from runaway materialism and endless experimentation.

For a dictator, Salazar's end was anti-climactic-a domestic accident. But during his nearly four decades in power, he survived less through reliance…


Book cover of Hunting Midnight

Wendy Lee Hermance Author Of Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

From my list on why Portugal is weird.

Who am I?

Wendy Lee Hermance was heard on National Public Radio (NPR) stations with her Missouri Folklore series in the 1980s. She earned a journalism degree from Stephens College, served as Editor and Features Writer for Midwestern and Southern university and regional publications, then settled into writing real estate contracts. In 2012 she attended University of Sydney, earning a master’s degree by research thesis. Her books include Where I’m Going with this Poem, a memoir in poetry and prose. Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat marks her return to feature writing as collections of narrative non-fiction stories.

Wendy's book list on why Portugal is weird

Wendy Lee Hermance Why did Wendy love this book?

Portugal: The Impossible Revolution? a 1990s dissertation on rainfall patterns, and Richard Zimler's 1998 best-seller, The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon were the only books on Portugal I could find with useful content - more than enough to book a flight. Zimler´s second novel about the Zarco family connected with me because it connects Portugal with South Carolina, where I lived for decades. It was the first book to explain Portugal as weird—confusing, full of contradictions—because Portugal is not one country, but a mosaic of world cultures. For example, the main character´s father also went back and forth to Africa in the 18th century, which was mind-blowing to me. Zimler's depiction of the bond between former African slave Midnight, and John Zarco, each a survivor of state-sponsored violence was deeply moving. The book's period atmosphere, magical occurrences, and bird markets primed me to expect the same here. Which I have. 

By Richard Zimler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Zimler's dazzling tale, John Zarco Stewart is an impish child of bold inquisitiveness, the unwitting inheritor of a faith shrouded in 300 years of secrecy. Dark and bitter events put an end to his innocence and almost destroy him, but he is healed by the arrival in his household of a mysterious young man from Africa.

Midnight is a freed slave brought to Porto by John's seafaring father, and he becomes John's greatest friend, ultimately determining the course of his life. But as John grows to manhood Midnight is lost to him, Napoleon's armies invade Portugal, and John's fragile…


Book cover of Unsheltered

Wendy Lee Hermance Author Of Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

From my list on why Portugal is weird.

Who am I?

Wendy Lee Hermance was heard on National Public Radio (NPR) stations with her Missouri Folklore series in the 1980s. She earned a journalism degree from Stephens College, served as Editor and Features Writer for Midwestern and Southern university and regional publications, then settled into writing real estate contracts. In 2012 she attended University of Sydney, earning a master’s degree by research thesis. Her books include Where I’m Going with this Poem, a memoir in poetry and prose. Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat marks her return to feature writing as collections of narrative non-fiction stories.

Wendy's book list on why Portugal is weird

Wendy Lee Hermance Why did Wendy love this book?

As weird as Portugal is, and has been, it may become weirder yet as it absorbs masses of migrants from unexpected places. Unsheltered is fiction that I found accurately portrays the shock and terror of American life for hundreds of millions of families, driving many to migrate. The family portrayed in the book are solidly middle-class, educated professionals. They “did everything right” in the “richest country on the planet,” yet find themselves on a downward slide with no way back to security. Vineland, New Jersey in its present state, and in its 19th-century aspirational origin is the compelling setting. One great thing Kingsolver does is to give hope, creating “new normals” of happiness in frugality.

The Portuguese figured this out ages ago. It's called “soup.”

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE NEW NOVEL FROM ORANGE PRIZE WINNER AND INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER BARBARA KINGSOLVER

2016 Vineland
Meet Willa Knox, a woman who stands braced against an upended world that seems to hold no mercy for her shattered life and family - or the crumbling house that contains her.

1871 Vineland
Thatcher Greenwood, the new science teacher, is a fervent advocate of the work of Charles Darwin, and he is keen to communicate his ideas to his students. But those in power in Thatcher's small town have no desire for a new world order. Thatcher and his teachings are not welcome.

Both Willa…


Book cover of The First Global Village

Louise Ross Author Of Women Who Walk: How 20 Women From 16 Countries Came To Live In Portugal

From my list on historically accurate books about Portugal.

Who am I?

Louise Ross is a non-fiction and fiction writer, speaker, and podcaster. Originally from Australia, she moved abroad in the mid-'80s, living in the UK, France, the US, and since 2014, Portugal. Her book, Women Who Walk: How 20 women from 16 countries came to live in Portugal, (2019), is a collection of mini-memoirs. In 2020, she released the sequel and comparative read, The Winding Road to Portugal: 20 Men from 11 Countries Share Their Stories. Louise lives on the Estoril coastline where she continues to interview women living in Portugal, and around the world, for her podcast, Women Who Walk

Louise's book list on historically accurate books about Portugal

Louise Ross Why did Louise love this book?

I read this book with great curiosity, as it was my first foray into Portuguese history after moving here. Page takes the reader back in time, when Portugal was ‘Rome on the Atlantic,’ and brings us full circle to Portugal’s Carnation Revolution of 1974. In between, there are ample fascinating examples of the cultural cross pollination that occurred as a result of the Portuguese setting sail in the 15th century on their ‘discoveries.’ For instance, we generally associate battered and deep-fried vegetables with Japanese cuisine, and yet it was the Portuguese, the first westerners to enter Japan, who introduced their traditional dish of green beans, fried in a light batter, that ultimately became Japanese tempura. 

By Martin Page,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Portugal is Europe’s south-western extremity, washed by the Atlantic, and warmed by the Mediterranean sun. Alone among Iberia’s ancient kingdoms in its independence from Spain, it is a nation about half the size of Florida, with two-thirds the population. Yet, over centuries, it has influenced the lives of the rest of us far more than many much larger and more powerful countries. The Portuguese gave the English afternoon tea, and Bombay the key to empire. They brought to Africa protection from Malaria, and slave-shipments to America; to India, higher education, curry, and samosas; to Japan, tempura and firearms. Portugal entered…


Book cover of First Thousand Words in Portuguese

Alyson Sheldrake Author Of Living the Dream in the Algarve, Portugal

From my list on moving to Portugal.

Who am I?

Alyson Sheldrake is the author of the award-winning Algarve Blog, and she is also a feature writer for the Tomorrow Magazine in the Algarve. She is an accomplished and sought-after artist working alongside her husband Dave, a professional photographer. She has published three books about their Algarve Adventures: Living the Dream – in the Algarve, Portugal, Living the Quieter Algarve Dream, and her latest book is a new anthology of expat stories entitled A New Life in the Algarve, Portugal. When she is not painting or writing, you can find her walking their rescued Spanish Water Dog called Kat along the riverbank in Aljezur.

Alyson's book list on moving to Portugal

Alyson Sheldrake Why did Alyson love this book?

This is a great book to help you learn some basic Portuguese words quickly. It is also in European Portuguese, unlike many other books that cover the Brazilian language (always something to watch out for when you are looking to learn Portuguese). This is a nicely illustrated book with labelled pictures and scenes that help you start to construct basic sentences – and you have the fun of trying to spot the hidden duck on every page too! I have struggled with learning and recalling Portuguese words, but the basics in this book are easy to remember and cover most everyday situations.

By Heather Amery,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked First Thousand Words in Portuguese as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There are 1000 Portuguese words to learn in this classic word book, great for sharing with young language learners. Each busy scene features the wonderful illustrations of Stephen Cartwright, alongside items to spot, each labelled with their Portuguese name. A fun way to build key Portuguese vocubulary, specially revised and updated to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Usborne Publishing in 2013. Readers can listen to every word read by a native Portuguese speaker at the Usborne Quicklinks Website. Don't forget to spot the Little Yellow Duck on every page!


Book cover of Self

Stuart Aken Author Of An Excess Of ...

From my list on character-driven novels.

Who am I?

I’ve been reading for 69 years, writing fiction for 43 years. I’ve read many more than 10,000 books. In my own writing, I begin with characters I create from combinations of traits and personalities I’ve met in life. I get to know them as friends. I then put them into the setting I’ve devised and given them free rein to develop the story. I know the destination, but the route is left to them. This involves much re-writing once the story is down on paper, but allows me to experience the excitement, concern, fear, love, and delights felt by the characters as I write the tale.

Stuart's book list on character-driven novels

Stuart Aken Why did Stuart love this book?

This story begins in the first person in the company of a young boy. I lived with him through his early teens and schooling, a huge tragedy, and his fate as the isolated offspring of high-flying achievers, his early experiences, and the casual physical and mental cruelty associated with boarding schools.

Abruptly, I was plunged into the life of a young woman in her late teens, still in the first person. Surprisingly, this overnight transition, both physical and mental, caused me only a short pause to reflect on the nature of gender. I travelled with this developing young woman as she experienced love, sex, and the joys and sorrows life throws at a sensitive, intelligent, and creative soul who enters the world of writing. Her journey as a budding novelist struck a real chord with me, having travelled that difficult and demanding route.

By Yann Martel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Edgy, funny and devastating, Self is the fictional autobiography of a young writer at the heart of which is a startling twist. This extraordinary life meanders through a rich, complicated, bittersweet world. The discoveries of childhood give way to the thousand pangs of adolescence, culminating in the sudden shocking news of an accident abroad. And as adulthood begins, indecisively, boundaries are crossed between countries, languages and people . . .


Book cover of Rick Steves Portugal

Alyson Sheldrake Author Of Living the Dream in the Algarve, Portugal

From my list on moving to Portugal.

Who am I?

Alyson Sheldrake is the author of the award-winning Algarve Blog, and she is also a feature writer for the Tomorrow Magazine in the Algarve. She is an accomplished and sought-after artist working alongside her husband Dave, a professional photographer. She has published three books about their Algarve Adventures: Living the Dream – in the Algarve, Portugal, Living the Quieter Algarve Dream, and her latest book is a new anthology of expat stories entitled A New Life in the Algarve, Portugal. When she is not painting or writing, you can find her walking their rescued Spanish Water Dog called Kat along the riverbank in Aljezur.

Alyson's book list on moving to Portugal

Alyson Sheldrake Why did Alyson love this book?

I am often asked for recommendations on where to go and what to see for visitors to Portugal, and I always recommend Rick Steve’s book. He doesn’t just cover the major attractions, he takes you into the small towns and villages, the remote beaches, and the local restaurants and cafés that will introduce you to the ‘real’ Portugal. Top tips, must-see destinations and clever itineraries will help you to pick out the best spots and the most memorable locations of this beautiful place I am proud to call home.

By Rick Steves,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Stroll Lisbon's cobbled lanes, cruise the Douro River, and soak up the sun on Algarve beaches: experience Portugal with Rick Steves! Inside Rick Steves Portugal you'll find:

* Comprehensive coverage for spending a week or more exploring Portugal
* Rick's strategic advice on how to get the most out of your time and money, with rankings of his must-see favorites
* Top sights and hidden gems, from the bone chapel of Evora and the palaces of Sintra to seaside street food and lush vineyards
* How to connect with culture: Chat with friendly locals over a glass of vinho verde,…


Book cover of The History Of The Siege Of Lisbon

Michael David Lukas Author Of The Last Watchman of Old Cairo

From my list on magical historical.

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by history, by the way that the past informs the present, how it makes us who we are. And I’ve found myself drawn, as a reader and as a writer, towards those stories that incorporate some element of magic into the past. I’ve written two magical historical novels. And my third book, which I hope to be finished with soon, is a fabulist tale set in the future, which I like to say is history that hasn’t happened yet. 

Michael's book list on magical historical

Michael David Lukas Why did Michael love this book?

I first read this book nearly twenty years ago and have been thinking about it ever since. It’s a relatively simple story, about a bored proofreader who literally rewrites the history of his hometown. But in the hands of a master storyteller like Saramago, the topic takes on a raft of existential questions about history, place, and our relationship to the past.

By José Saramago,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An editor at a Portuguese publishing house, Raimundo Silva, undertakes to rewrite a crucial episode in Portuguese history as a romantic saga, with the amorous encouragement of his supervisor.


Book cover of Practical Portuguese: Language for Living in Portugal

Alyson Sheldrake Author Of Living the Dream in the Algarve, Portugal

From my list on moving to Portugal.

Who am I?

Alyson Sheldrake is the author of the award-winning Algarve Blog, and she is also a feature writer for the Tomorrow Magazine in the Algarve. She is an accomplished and sought-after artist working alongside her husband Dave, a professional photographer. She has published three books about their Algarve Adventures: Living the Dream – in the Algarve, Portugal, Living the Quieter Algarve Dream, and her latest book is a new anthology of expat stories entitled A New Life in the Algarve, Portugal. When she is not painting or writing, you can find her walking their rescued Spanish Water Dog called Kat along the riverbank in Aljezur.

Alyson's book list on moving to Portugal

Alyson Sheldrake Why did Alyson love this book?

This is a hard book to get hold of, but worth hunting down if you want to begin to speak the Portuguese language with some fluency. Sheila moved to live in Portugal in 1987 and found most of the language guidebooks were of little use to her as she tried to navigate her way around the day-to-day reality of living in the Algarve. This is a book for people who live and work here, rather than a phrasebook that would help you book a taxi or order food at a restaurant while you are on holiday. I have found Portuguese to be a difficult language, but it is worth persevering with, and the locals are friendly and will always help you.

By Sheila Watts,

Why should I read it?

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


5 book lists we think you will like!

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