100 books like The Arts of Intimacy

By Jerrilynn D. Dodds, María Rosa Menocal, Abigail Krasner Balbale

Here are 100 books that The Arts of Intimacy fans have personally recommended if you like The Arts of Intimacy. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain

Steven Nightingale Author Of Granada: A Pomegranate in the Hand of God

From my list on the truth about Spanish history.

Who am I?

I am a writer who lived in the city of Granada for almost four years, in the uncanny barrio of the Albayzin. The daily blessings of life there are powerful and cumulative, and I wrote a book in honor of such luminosity; and I wrote it, as well, because most of us have been lied to about Spanish history. But the truth, like the poetry of Garcia Lorca, cannot be suppressed. In my sojourn in Spain, and in my visits over the years, I have found Granada to be a treasure-house of stories and poetry; and in flamenco singing, the home of one of the most powerful art-forms of music in the world.

Steven's book list on the truth about Spanish history

Steven Nightingale Why did Steven love this book?

The whole of Spanish history is contentious, with hardly a fact not subject to challenge or attack. But slowly, clarity and understanding have come forth, and finally, in this volume, the extraordinary scholar Paul Preston gives us the facts about the campaigns of extermination in the Spanish Civil War. Anyone who wants a solid, grounded, informed understanding of this miserable time of slaughter needs this book. Painful reading, and all the more necessary for that.

By Paul Preston,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Evoking such classics as Anne Applebaum's Gulag and Robert Conquest's The Great Terror, The Spanish Holocaust sheds light on one of the darkest and most unexamined eras of modern European history. As Spain finally reclaims its historical memory, a full picture can now be drawn of the atrocities of Franco's Spain-from torture and judicial murders to the abuse of women and children. Paul Preston provides an unforgettable account of the systematic terror carried out by Spain's fascist government.


Book cover of The Legacy of Muslim Spain Volume 1

Steven Nightingale Author Of Granada: A Pomegranate in the Hand of God

From my list on the truth about Spanish history.

Who am I?

I am a writer who lived in the city of Granada for almost four years, in the uncanny barrio of the Albayzin. The daily blessings of life there are powerful and cumulative, and I wrote a book in honor of such luminosity; and I wrote it, as well, because most of us have been lied to about Spanish history. But the truth, like the poetry of Garcia Lorca, cannot be suppressed. In my sojourn in Spain, and in my visits over the years, I have found Granada to be a treasure-house of stories and poetry; and in flamenco singing, the home of one of the most powerful art-forms of music in the world.

Steven's book list on the truth about Spanish history

Steven Nightingale Why did Steven love this book?

Incomparable. In the long effort by scholars to establish the facts about the brilliant period of Al-Andalus—711-1492—this book is a breakthrough and a marvel. Salma Khadra Jayyusi assembled the leading scholars in the field on a whole host of subjects, and the two volumes have everything from meditations on broad historical themes to detailed accounts of book-making, ceramics, and techniques of dyeing and weaving silk. No serious reader of the history of Spain should have to live without these two extraordinary volumes.

Book cover of God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215

Steven Nightingale Author Of Granada: A Pomegranate in the Hand of God

From my list on the truth about Spanish history.

Who am I?

I am a writer who lived in the city of Granada for almost four years, in the uncanny barrio of the Albayzin. The daily blessings of life there are powerful and cumulative, and I wrote a book in honor of such luminosity; and I wrote it, as well, because most of us have been lied to about Spanish history. But the truth, like the poetry of Garcia Lorca, cannot be suppressed. In my sojourn in Spain, and in my visits over the years, I have found Granada to be a treasure-house of stories and poetry; and in flamenco singing, the home of one of the most powerful art-forms of music in the world.

Steven's book list on the truth about Spanish history

Steven Nightingale Why did Steven love this book?

The perfect book, beautifully written, for anyone who wants to understand Spain and Al-Andalus in the context of medieval European history. Most of us are taught the history of Medieval Europe to the strange exclusion of the brilliant culture of Al-Andalus, but it remains the case that the whole history of Europe cannot be understood without knowing the contributions of the convivencia across a very wide spectrum of subjects—commerce, mathematics, agriculture, philosophy, and medicine, to name a few. 

By David Levering Lewis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked God's Crucible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Resonating as profoundly today as when it was first published to widespread critical acclaim a decade ago, God's Crucible is a bold portrait of Islamic Spain and the birth of modern Europe from one of our greatest historians. David Levering Lewis's narrative, filled with accounts of some of the most epic battles in world history, reveals how cosmopolitan, Muslim al-Andalus flourished-a beacon of cooperation and tolerance-while proto-Europe floundered in opposition to Islam, making virtues out of hereditary aristocracy, religious intolerance, perpetual war and slavery. This masterful history begins with the fall of the Persian and Roman empires, followed by the…


Book cover of The Spanish Inquisition

Steven Nightingale Author Of Granada: A Pomegranate in the Hand of God

From my list on the truth about Spanish history.

Who am I?

I am a writer who lived in the city of Granada for almost four years, in the uncanny barrio of the Albayzin. The daily blessings of life there are powerful and cumulative, and I wrote a book in honor of such luminosity; and I wrote it, as well, because most of us have been lied to about Spanish history. But the truth, like the poetry of Garcia Lorca, cannot be suppressed. In my sojourn in Spain, and in my visits over the years, I have found Granada to be a treasure-house of stories and poetry; and in flamenco singing, the home of one of the most powerful art-forms of music in the world.

Steven's book list on the truth about Spanish history

Steven Nightingale Why did Steven love this book?

It is always good to have a close, thoughtful comprehensive examination of a mythical institution. This book corrects some of the legends and does us the important service of showing how the Inquisition was not merely dark and atrocious. With its violent and administrative mix of ideology and politics, it provided to the world a model for evil, and its influence is evident throughout subsequent history, from the show trials of Stalinist Russia to various totalitarian movements worldwide.

By Joseph Pérez, Janet Lloyd (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the story of 350 years of terror. Established by papal bull in 1478, the first task of the Spanish Inquisition was to question Jewish converts to Christianity and to expose and execute those found guilty of reversion. Authorities then turned on Spanish Jews in general, sending 300,000 into exile. Next in line were humanists and Lutherans. No rank was exempt. Children informed on their parents, merchants on their rivals, and priests upon their bishops. Those denounced were guilty unless they could prove their innocence. Nearly 32,000 people were publicly burned at the stake; the "fortunate" ones were flogged,…


Book cover of Exotic Nation: Maurophilia and the Construction of Early Modern Spain

Teresa Tinsley Author Of Reconciliation and Resistance in Early Modern Spain: Hernando de Baeza and the Catholic Monarchs

From my list on memories of Moorish Spain.

Who am I?

I am an avid Hispanist and have for a long time been fascinated by the mix of cultures in medieval Spain. Soon after 9-11, I was forced to take part in a barefoot ritual of security checks on arriving at Zaragoza airport to see something of the Moorish heritage there, and it hit me how important the way we tell the story of ‘Moors and Christians’ is to our own times. My own experience as a linguist and of living abroad made me particularly interested in people who are able to see both sides of a story and transfer between cultures. This is what I researched further in my Ph.D. in relation to the demise of Muslim Granada. 

Teresa's book list on memories of Moorish Spain

Teresa Tinsley Why did Teresa love this book?

This is a book that made me think again about the ‘Moorishness’ of Spain.

How to square the repression and ultimate expulsion of people of Muslim origin in the early sixteen hundreds with the obvious delight taken in aspects of their material culture such as architecture, fashion, and horsemanship, not to mention the sympathetic portrayal of Moorish characters in sixteenth-century Spanish literature?

It’s a well-argued book full of fascinating examples which examine and enlighten this paradox. 

By Barbara Fuchs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the Western imagination, Spain often evokes the colorful culture of al-Andalus, the Iberian region once ruled by Muslims. Tourist brochures inviting visitors to sunny and romantic Andalusia, home of the ingenious gardens and intricate arabesques of Granada's Alhambra Palace, are not the first texts to trade on Spain's relationship to its Moorish past. Despite the fall of Granada to the Catholic Monarchs in 1492 and the subsequent repression of Islam in Spain, Moorish civilization continued to influence both the reality and the perception of the Christian nation that emerged in place of al-Andalus.

In Exotic Nation, Barbara Fuchs explores…


Book cover of Juana the Mad: Sovereignty and Dynasty in Renaissance Europe

Amanda Scott Author Of The Basque Seroras: Local Religion, Gender, and Power in Northern Iberia, 1550-1800

From my list on Spain’s golden age.

Who am I?

I was a stubborn teenager, and growing up, I vocally declared I would never set foot in Spain. The Spanish Empire was oppressive! It was full of religious fanatics! Yet… in college I took a course on Spain’s Golden Age, and for the first time I saw a different side of history, full of paradoxes and contradictions, Inquisitors and female mystics, bumbling priests and powerful nuns, decadence and poverty, emperors, tricksters, artists, pirates, scientists, and everything in between. Spain of the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries was extraordinarily complex and far from one-dimensional. Now, years later, I have travelled to Spain over twenty times, lived in Pamplona, and I am a historian of early modern Spain at Penn State University.

Amanda's book list on Spain’s golden age

Amanda Scott Why did Amanda love this book?

This older book remains one of my favorites because it challenges a number of easy assumptions about queenship, mental illness, and political strategy.  Juana was the third child of Isabella and Ferdinand, trained and educated to marry for diplomatic alliance, but never expected to reign in her own right. Yet early modern dynastic strategy was at the mercy of mortality and fertility, and Juana eventually became the unlikely monarch of Spain and the mother of the powerful line of Habsburg kings of Spain. Juana is typically dismissed as mentally unstable following the death of her husband. This book reexamines this stereotype, arguing that her eccentric behavior may have been strategic given the limitations placed upon her by her family, and deployed intentionally to protect herself and her children’s inheritance.

By Bethany Aram,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Born to Isabel and Ferdinand, the Catholic Monarchs whose marriage united the realms of Castile and Aragon, Juana "the Mad" (1479-1555) is one of the most infamous but least studied monarchs of the Renaissance. Conventional accounts of Juana portray her as a sullen woman prone to depression, a jealous wife insanely in love with her husband, and an incompetent queen who was deemed by her father, husband, and son, unable to govern herself much less her kingdoms. But was Juana truly mad or the victim of manipulative family members who desired to rule in her stead? Drawing upon recent scholarship…


Book cover of The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain

Hussein Fancy Author Of The Mercenary Mediterranean: Sovereignty, Religion, and Violence in the Medieval Crown of Aragon

From my list on capturing the paradoxes of medieval Spain.

Who am I?

Hussein Fancy is a Professor of History at Yale University where he teaches medieval history with a particular focus on medieval Spain and North Africa. His research, writing, and teaching focus on the entwined histories of not only Jews, Christians, and Muslims but also Latin and Arabic in the Middle Ages. He has traveled and lived extensively in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.

Hussein's book list on capturing the paradoxes of medieval Spain

Hussein Fancy Why did Hussein love this book?

If there’s only one that I could recommend, it’s this brilliant, beautiful, and vexing book by María Rosa Menocal, Sterling Professor at Yale University. In a compelling and artful manner, Menocal tells the story of medieval Spain from the arrival of the first Umayyad rulers to Cervantes. Beyond being a useful introduction to the fascinating history, Menocal makes the argument that a culture of tolerance existed in medieval Spain, one that transcended religious and ethnic differences. The principal engine of this culture, she suggests, was the Arabic language. Menocal’s book has received as much praise as criticism, a testament to its enduring power and the contentious quality of medieval Spain.

By María Rosa Menocal,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Ornament of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A rich and thriving culture where literature, science and religious tolerance flourished for 700 years is the subject of this enthralling history of medieval Spain.

Living side by side in the Andalusian kingdoms, the 'peoples of the book' produced statesmen, poets and philosophers who influenced the rest of Europe in dramatic ways, giving it the first translations of Plato and Aristotle, love songs and secular poetry plus remarkable feats of architecture and technology. This evocative account explores the lost history whose legacy and lessons have a powerful resonance in today's world.


Book cover of Tormented Voices: Power, Crisis, and Humanity in Rural Catalonia, 1140-1200

Justine Firnhaber-Baker Author Of The Jacquerie of 1358: A French Peasants' Revolt

From my list on medieval peasants.

Who am I?

I am professor of medieval history at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. As a PhD student, I was electrified by the historian E. P. Thompson’s call to rescue the masses ‘from the enormous condescension of posterity’, but it’s often only when peasants revolt, as they did outside Paris in 1358, that we get much evidence about the masses in the Middle Ages. I loved writing The Jacquerie of 1358 because it allowed me to get very close to the men (and a few women) who risked everything to make their society a more just and equal one. It was a privilege, and a pleasure, to tell their story.

Justine's book list on medieval peasants

Justine Firnhaber-Baker Why did Justine love this book?

Tormented Voices often brings me close to tears. Although based on records from 800 years ago, it feels very immediate in its account of the lordly oppression that often blighted peasants’ lives.

The records detail villagers’ complaints against knights who had violently forced them to hand over grain, money, or animals. The villagers say that heads were broken, a woman’s nose cut off, houses made uninhabitable, and so on. The villagers employed scribes to write out these complaints to send to their Count-King in Barcelona, but we don’t know if he even replied, let alone if anything was ever done.

By restoring the peasants’ voices, the book does what it can to right the wrongs done to them so long ago. 

By Thomas N. Bisson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Mute in life as in death, peasants of remote history rarely speak to us in their own voices. But Thomas Bisson's engagement with the records of several hundred twelfth-century people of rural Catalonia enables us to hear these voices. The peasants' allegations of abuse while in the service of their common lord the Count of Barcelona and his son the King reveal a unique perspective on the meaning of power both by those who felt and feared it, and by those who wielded it. These records-original parchments, dating much earlier than other comparable records of European peasant life-name peasants in…


Book cover of The Visigoths in History and Legend

David M. Gwynn Author Of The Goths: Lost Civilizations

From my list on the Goths of history and legend.

Who am I?

Born and raised in New Zealand, about as far from the Roman world as one can get, I got hooked on history as a child and began university life as an ancient and medieval double major, studying everything from the classical Greeks and Romans to Charlemagne and the Crusades. By the time I came to Oxford to write my PhD, I decided that my greatest interest lay in the dramatic transformation which saw classical antiquity evolve into medieval Christendom. I've been fortunate enough to write and teach about many different aspects of that transformation and I'm currently Associate Professor in Ancient and Late Antique History at Royal Holloway, in the University of London. 

David's book list on the Goths of history and legend

David M. Gwynn Why did David love this book?

The Visigothic kingdom of Spain was long dismissed in older books as a barbaric backwater, the darkest point of the so-called Dark Ages. Yet it was, in truth, a vibrant cultural centre for more than two centuries, until falling to the forces of Islam in 711. Hillgarth’s fascinating book gives an excellent short survey of Visigothic history, and then explores how the legends surrounding the Goths were developed and exploited by later Spanish generations, from the Christian Reconquista and the sixteenth-century Golden Age to modern times. This creation of an idealized Gothic past provided inspiration and a sense of identity in Spain, in sharp contrast to Italy where the Goths were depicted during the Renaissance as the savage destroyers of classical civilization.

By J.N. Hillgarth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book explores one of the central myths of Spain: the idea that Spanish culture arose from that of the Visigoths. It begins with a sketch of Visigothic history, then proceeds to explore attitudes towards the Goths and legends and myths that developed around them from late antiquity to the twentieth century; such ideas proved influential among those who saw the Goths as their spiritual, if not literal, ancestors. The focus is on the myth of the Goths as expressed in literature of a broadly historical nature; many authors have played a significant role in forming and shaping this myth,…


Book cover of Trickster Travels: A Sixteenth-Century Muslim Between Worlds

Teresa Tinsley Author Of Reconciliation and Resistance in Early Modern Spain: Hernando de Baeza and the Catholic Monarchs

From my list on memories of Moorish Spain.

Who am I?

I am an avid Hispanist and have for a long time been fascinated by the mix of cultures in medieval Spain. Soon after 9-11, I was forced to take part in a barefoot ritual of security checks on arriving at Zaragoza airport to see something of the Moorish heritage there, and it hit me how important the way we tell the story of ‘Moors and Christians’ is to our own times. My own experience as a linguist and of living abroad made me particularly interested in people who are able to see both sides of a story and transfer between cultures. This is what I researched further in my Ph.D. in relation to the demise of Muslim Granada. 

Teresa's book list on memories of Moorish Spain

Teresa Tinsley Why did Teresa love this book?

This must be one of the best biographies ever!

It’s an academic take on the story of Leo the African, novelised by Amin Maalouf, and it brings out his complex identity and the richness of interconnected Mediterranean cultures in a way that is totally relevant to today.

It really made me think about the limitations of what we call national or religious identity and the almost infinite ability of human beings to adapt, chameleon-like, to different circumstances and cultures. 

By Natalie Zemon Davis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Al-Hasan al-Wazzan - born in Granada to a Muslim family that in 1492 went to Morocco - became famous as the great Renaissance writer Leo Africanus, author of the first geography of Africa to be published in Europe (in 1550). He had been captured by Christian pirates in the Mediterranean and imprisoned by the Pope; when he was released and baptized, he lived a European life of scholarship as the Christian writer Giovanni Leone; by 1527, it is likely that he returned to North Africa and to the language, culture, and faith in which he had been raised. Natalie Zemon…


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