10 books like Portugal

By Phil Mailer,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Portugal. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Silk Roads

By Peter Frankopan,

Book cover of The Silk Roads: A New History of the World

Even more than the oil curse, the location curse is key to understanding the Middle East. Peter Frankopan’s The Silk Roads is one of the best explorations of what imperial geographers identified as Eurasia, the ancient, much-fought-over land bridge between west and east running from the eastern Mediterranean to the Himalayas of which the modern construct of the “Middle East” is only one, sadly reduced part. Frankopan looks away from today’s association with regimes that are unstable, violent threats to international security and/or human rights, and popularly perceived as somehow peripheral to the interests of the West—to its historic center at the crossroads of civilization.

By tracing the evolution of the vitally interconnected trade routes known as the “Silk Roads", from conveying Chinese luxury goods and Turkic slaves to gold and silver, Iranian oil and Ukrainian wheat, Mongolian rare earths, and transcontinental telecommunications links, he shows how the region has…

The Silk Roads

By Peter Frankopan,

Why should I read it?

6 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…


Salazar

By Tom Gallagher,

Book cover of Salazar: The Dictator Who Refused to Die

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.

Salazar

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…


Hunting Midnight

By Richard Zimler,

Book cover of Hunting Midnight

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. 

Hunting Midnight

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…


Unsheltered

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Book cover of Unsheltered

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.”

Unsheltered

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Why should I read it?

1 author 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…


The First Global Village

By Martin Page,

Book cover of The First Global Village

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. 

The First Global Village

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…


First Thousand Words in Portuguese

By Heather Amery,

Book cover of First Thousand Words in Portuguese

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.

First Thousand Words in Portuguese

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!


Self

By Yann Martel,

Book cover of Self

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.

Self

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 . . .


The Last Kabbalist in Lisbon

By Richard Zimler,

Book cover of The Last Kabbalist in Lisbon

Zimler is an award-winning American writer who has lived in Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city, since 1990. I admire Zimler’s historical fiction for its fact-based accuracy, and The Last Kabbalist is a beauty for that reason. His acclaimed novel details the Portuguese inquisition and the massacre of its Jews in 1506. Via his incisive research and great storytelling, Zimler sheds light on this period of history unknown to many Portuguese; as a result, there is now a Jewish Memorial Plaque in Rossio Square in Lisbon’s city center, honouring the two to five thousand Jews who were massacred. 

The Last Kabbalist in Lisbon

By Richard Zimler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Berekiah Zarco, a young manuscript illustrator, searches for the killer of his uncle Abraham, a renowned kabbalist discovered murdered in a secret synagogue, in a historical mystery set in sixteenthcentury Lisbon, Portugal. Reprint.


Practical Portuguese

By Sheila Watts,

Book cover of Practical Portuguese: Language for Living in Portugal

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.

Practical Portuguese

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.


The Portuguese

By Barry Hatton,

Book cover of The Portuguese: A Modern History

On the back cover, Hatton says that his purpose in writing The Portuguese – and this quote made me smile knowingly, and it’s why I bought the book – “is to describe the idiosyncrasies that make this lovely, and sometimes exasperating country unique and to search for explanations, surveying the historical path that drove the Portuguese to where they now stand.” Hatton succeeds beautifully in his endeavour, offering up 280 pages of an enlightening and scintillating read.

The Portuguese

By Barry Hatton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Portugal is an established member of the European Union, one of the founders of the euro currency and a founding member of NATO. Yet it is an inconspicuous and largely overlooked country on the continent’s southwest rim. Barry Hatton shines a light on this enigmatic corner of Europe by blending historical analysis with entertaining personal anecdotes. He describes the idiosyncrasies that make the Portuguese unique and surveys the eventful path that brought them to where they are today. Portugal, which claims Europe’s oldest fixed borders, measures just 561 by 218 kilometers. Within that space, however, it offers a patchwork of…


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