100 books like The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini

By Benvenuto Cellini,

Here are 100 books that The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini fans have personally recommended if you like The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini. 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 Decameron

Justin Jaron Lewis Author Of Imagining Holiness: Classic Hasidic Tales in Modern Times

From my list on people telling each other stories.

Who am I?

Nearly forty years ago, as a young poet, I started going to a storytelling circle in Toronto, thinking it would be a good venue to recite my poems. What I heard there awakened something in me. When I was a child, my parents read me wonder tales, and I soon began to read them on my own. Now I was hearing these stories, the way they were heard for millennia before anyone wrote them down. Today, I am a storyteller, I am married, and I am a professor who teaches a course on storytelling and writes about stories – all because of those weekly gatherings years ago and the storytellers there.

Justin's book list on people telling each other stories

Justin Jaron Lewis Why did Justin love this book?

I’m including one book from long ago and far away – fourteenth-century Italy – because it leaped out at me from the bookshelf.

The Decameron is the most artistically complete written story about face-to-face storytelling – though I also love its rivals, One Thousand and One Nights and The Canterbury Tales!

The book opens with the bubonic plague that devastated Florence in 1348. Ten wealthy young friends, women and men, leave the stricken city to vacation in the countryside. While servants prepare lavish meals, the friends spend their days relaxing, dancing – and telling naughty stories. The narrator delights in describing their reactions to each other’s storytelling.

Yes, stories can be holy and powerful, but sometimes we just need them to clown around for us! Many translations are available – read one that feels playful. 

By Giovanni Boccaccio,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1348, as the Black Death ravages their city, ten young Florentines take refuge in the countryside...

Taken from the Greek, meaning 'ten-day event', Boccaccio's Decameron sees his characters amuse themselves by each telling a story a day, for the ten days of their confinement - a hundred stories of love and adventure, life and death, and surprising twists of fate. Less preoccupied with abstract concepts of morality or religion than earthly values, the tales range from the bawdy Peronella, hiding her lover in a tub, to Ser Cepperallo, who, despite his unholy effrontery, becomes a Saint.…


Book cover of De honesta voluptate

Peter Elbling Author Of The Food Taster

From my list on the brilliance of the Italian Renaissance.

Who am I?

Folk-singing was my first vocation, but I made a sudden left turn into comedy, becoming one-half of The Times Square Two. After a few years touring the world, I settled in Hollywood and became an actor, writer, and director. I was inspired to write The Food Taster by the maître d’ of a famous restaurant in Los Angeles. When I complained that my meal had made me ill, he smiled and said I should get myself a food taster.

Peter's book list on the brilliance of the Italian Renaissance

Peter Elbling Why did Peter love this book?

Researching the trials and tribulations of a Renaissance food taster meant that I had to become familiar with the court cuisine of the period, the ingredients used in their preparation, and most vitally, the politics of the kitchen. I was delighted to find that many of Platina’s recipes can still be enjoyed today; I have made cabbage stuffed with walnuts, chicken fried with diced lemon, and my personal favorite, cherry cheesecake.

By Platina,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Aretino's Dialogues

Peter Elbling Author Of The Food Taster

From my list on the brilliance of the Italian Renaissance.

Who am I?

Folk-singing was my first vocation, but I made a sudden left turn into comedy, becoming one-half of The Times Square Two. After a few years touring the world, I settled in Hollywood and became an actor, writer, and director. I was inspired to write The Food Taster by the maître d’ of a famous restaurant in Los Angeles. When I complained that my meal had made me ill, he smiled and said I should get myself a food taster.

Peter's book list on the brilliance of the Italian Renaissance

Peter Elbling Why did Peter love this book?

I highly recommend the works of Pietro Aretino. I love satire, and Aretino was a satirist for the ages. I admired his raw courage, for he spared no one—including kings and popes—on his way to earning the title “Scourge of Princes.” He died in his early sixties, reportedly from “laughing too much.” I cannot imagine an epitaph I would rather have engraved on my headstone.

By Pietro Aretino,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

tales from Counter-Renaissance Rome


Book cover of The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy

Peter Elbling Author Of The Food Taster

From my list on the brilliance of the Italian Renaissance.

Who am I?

Folk-singing was my first vocation, but I made a sudden left turn into comedy, becoming one-half of The Times Square Two. After a few years touring the world, I settled in Hollywood and became an actor, writer, and director. I was inspired to write The Food Taster by the maître d’ of a famous restaurant in Los Angeles. When I complained that my meal had made me ill, he smiled and said I should get myself a food taster.

Peter's book list on the brilliance of the Italian Renaissance

Peter Elbling Why did Peter love this book?

Burckhardt’s encyclopedia became my bible. Whatever I needed to know about the clothing, or the buildings, or the politics—or anything else about that period, I only had to open Burckhardt’s book, and it was all there for me. The information was easy to find and eminently readable; and while I am hardly a scholar of the Renaissance, after devouring his book a thousand times I believe I can now call myself an honorable student.

By Jacob Burckhardt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For nineteenth-century Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt, the Italian Renaissance was nothing less than the beginning of the modern world - a world in which flourishing individualism and the competition for fame radically transformed science, the arts, and politics. In this landmark work he depicts the Italian city-states of Florence, Venice and Rome as providing the seeds of a new form of society, and traces the rise of the creative individual, from Dante to Michelangelo. A fascinating description of an era of cultural transition, this nineteenth-century masterpiece was to become the most influential interpretation of the Italian Renaissance, and anticipated ideas…


Book cover of Love and Death in Renaissance Italy

Nicholas Scott Baker Author Of In Fortune's Theater: Financial Risk and the Future in Renaissance Italy

From my list on exploring what what Renaissance Italy was really like.

Who am I?

I teach the histories of early modern Europe and European worlds at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. I developed a fascination for the period and, especially, for the Italian Renaissance as an undergraduate before going on to complete a PhD at Northwestern University in the United States. I love the contradictions and tensions of the period: a society and culture in transition from what we call medieval understandings and worldviews to what we see as more modern ones. These are some of the books that helped to fuel my passion for Renaissance Italian history and to answer some of my questions about what life was really like in Renaissance Italy.

Nicholas' book list on exploring what what Renaissance Italy was really like

Nicholas Scott Baker Why did Nicholas love this book?

This book presents six vignettes of sex and violence plucked by Thomas Cohen from the archives of the papal governor of sixteenth-century Rome.

I love Cohen’s passion for telling a good story without losing sight of its broader historical significance. Examining the everyday lives of people in the streets, Cohen reveals how a clash between the contradictory currents of Italian Renaissance society fueled much of its conflicts and discontents.

On the one hand, Christian religion preached mercy, forgiveness, and community, on the other the compelling codes of honor, familial loyalty, and unwritten social rules promoted violence and vengeance.

The book also reveals how women and other socially marginalized figures could navigate and manipulate these codes to find space and freedom in a world dominated by powerful men. 

By Thomas V. Cohen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Love and Death in Renaissance Italy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gratuitous sex. Graphic violence. Lies, revenge, and murder. Before there was digital cable or reality television, there was Renaissance Italy and the courts in which Italian magistrates meted out justice to the vicious and the villainous, the scabrous and the scandalous. As dramatic and as moving as the television show The Borgias, and a lot more true to life, Love and Death in Renaissance Italy retells six piquant episodes from the Italian court just after 1550, as the Renaissance gave way to an era of Catholic reformation. Each of the chapters in this history chronicles a domestic drama around which…


Book cover of The Renaissance in Italy: A Social and Cultural History of the Rinascimento

Celeste McNamara Author Of The Bishop's Burden: Reforming the Catholic Church in Early Modern Italy

From my list on Renaissance Italy.

Who am I?

I teach medieval and early modern European history at Dublin City University, with a particular interest in 16th-18th century Italian history. My own research focuses on the religious, legal, and popular culture of northern Italy, particularly Venice and the Veneto region. I became fascinated with Renaissance Italian history as an undergraduate at the College of William and Mary, and then went on to do a masters and a PhD at Northwestern University. I have taught at Northwestern, the College of William and Mary, the University of Warwick/Warwick in Venice, and the State University of New York at Cortland.

Celeste's book list on Renaissance Italy

Celeste McNamara Why did Celeste love this book?

This book is a fantastic, broad overview of the Italian Renaissance (or rinascimento, the term Ruggiero prefers and which his subjects would have recognized). The Italian Rinascimento was a period, according to Ruggiero, of vibrant cities, social change, and cultural expression, in which intellectuals, politicians, and artists both looked back to an idealized classical past and forward to uncharted territory.

I love the way this book focuses on issues that preoccupied the people he studies and incorporates topics often absent from works on the Renaissance, including women, sexuality, economics, disease and death, and religion, among others. Even more important, perhaps, is that it is clear, accessible, and engaging, and demonstrates a wealth of knowledge developed over an illustrious career as a historian of early modern Italy.

By Guido Ruggiero,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book offers a rich and exciting new way of thinking about the Italian Renaissance as both a historical period and a historical movement. Guido Ruggiero's work is based on archival research and new insights of social and cultural history and literary criticism, with a special emphasis on everyday culture, gender, violence and sexuality. The book offers a vibrant and relevant critical study of a period too long burdened by anachronistic and outdated ways of thinking about the past. Familiar, yet alien; pre-modern, but suggestively post-modern; attractive and troubling, this book returns the Italian Renaissance to center stage in our…


Book cover of You Must Change Your Life: The Story of Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin

Michael Findlay Author Of Seeing Slowly: Looking at Modern Art

From my list on making modern art exciting.

Who am I?

I have spent an exciting half-century in the New York art world as a dealer and an author and while my passion is to encourage people to enjoy art for art’s sake (rather than money or prestige) my many close friendships with artists demonstrate how much their life informs their art. The authors of these five books bring the art as well as the artists to life.

Michael's book list on making modern art exciting

Michael Findlay Why did Michael love this book?

Rilke, a shy young Austrian poet goes to Paris in 1902 to write a book about Rodin, a famous and famously difficult sculptor twice his age. Not only do they become friends but the ideas they shared about art and creativity are influential to this day. Guest appearances by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, George Bernard Shaw, and many other notable artists and writers.

I am an art dealer who is also a writer so I was fascinated to learn about the relationship between Rodin, a great sculptor whose work I know very well, and the young poet Rilke, whose work I knew little about. Art and poetry come from the same wellspring of imagination and both artist and poet were inspired by each other despite the difference in their age and practice.

By Rachel Corbett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You Must Change Your Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Paris in 1902, Auguste Rodin had just completed The Thinker; visiting from Prague was Rainer Maria Rilke, broke and with writer's block. When Rilke was commissioned to write a book about Rodin, everything changed. You Must Change Your Life tells one of the great stories of modern art and literature: Rodin and Rilke's years together as master and disciple, their heartbreaking rift and finally, their moving reconciliation. Rachel Corbett reveals how Rodin's friendship led Rilke to write his most celebrated poems and inspired his Letters to a Young Poet. She captures the dawn of Modernism amid the characters that…


Book cover of Everything She Touched: The Life of Ruth Asawa

Celia Stahr Author Of Frida in America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist

From my list on overviews and individual lives of women artists.

Who am I?

As a teenager, I found the layered poetry of Sylvia Plath as riveting as an impasto-layered canvas by Vincent Van Gogh. A love for the rhythm of words and paint, as well as the power of art to tell stories and critique history led me to study art history. Influential college professors opened my eyes to the systematic exclusion of women from art and history. Today, I’m a professor at the University of San Francisco, where I specialize in modern, contemporary, and African art, with an emphasis upon issues of gender, race, ethnicity, and class. I’m particularly interested in women artists and artists who cross cultural boundaries. 

Celia's book list on overviews and individual lives of women artists

Celia Stahr Why did Celia love this book?

Ruth Asawa’s art and life are inspirational and anyone reading this book will discover why. The Japanese American artist’s life was filled with challenges from contracting diphtheria, to being forced to live in a concentration camp, to marrying across racial lines when most states banned it, to contracting lupus in middle age. Yet, her strong work ethic and creative passion prevailed, spawning a new art form of hanging looped-wire sculptures. The last two photos in the book show Asawa inside and surrounded by her organic-looking sculptures, conveying a symbiotic relationship between the artist and her art. There is a meditative mood to these Imogen Cunningham photos that match the experience of seeing Asawa’s pieces in real life. When I finished reading this book, I felt bathed in Asawa’s beautiful spirit.  

By Marilyn Chase,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Everything She Touched recounts the incredible life of the American sculptor Ruth Asawa.

This is the story of a woman who wielded imagination and hope in the face of intolerance and who transformed everything she touched into art. In this compelling biography, author Marilyn Chase brings Asawa's story to vivid life. She draws on Asawa's extensive archives and weaves together many voices-family, friends, teachers, and critics-to offer a complex and fascinating portrait of the artist.

Born in California in 1926, Ruth Asawa grew from a farmer's daughter to a celebrated sculptor. She survived adolescence in the World War II Japanese-American…


Book cover of A Special Providence

Bill Scheft Author Of Shrink Thyself

From my list on that make me feel like an absolute fraud.

Who am I?

Why do I use the word “fraud?” The answer is agonizingly simple. My whole life, and I mean since I was ten, I wanted to be “a real writer.” Whatever that was. And now here we are, 55 years later. Despite my great good fortune to spend 24 years coming up with jokes for Dave Letterman, three years as a columnist at Sports Illustrated, and to have my name on four novels, if you asked me, “Are you a real writer?” I would tell you, “not yet….” Here are five real writers.

Bill's book list on that make me feel like an absolute fraud

Bill Scheft Why did Bill love this book?

My favorite novelist. Laureate of Broken People. Criminally underappreciated. In 1987, 15 years before I was lucky enough to be published, I wrote to Yates after I got his address from his daughter Monica, who was dating my fellow stand-up comic friend, some unknown guy named Larry David. In the letter, I revealed that I had just stolen his out-of-print 1969 novel about a post-WWII mother and homecoming son from the NYC Public Library and that it would always be my favorite book of his because it was the only one I had not yet read. He wrote back that it was his favorite work as well, then added, “I admire comics because it is much easier to break people’s hearts than to make them laugh.” (Spoiler alert: Larry David turns out okay…)

By Richard Yates,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An ebook compilation of inspirational writings, featuring seven classic works in one high quality, fully searchable edition:

The compilation includes:

'Mere Christianity'
'The Screwtape Letters'
'Surprised by Joy'
'The Four Loves'
'The Problem of Pain'
'The Great Divorce'
'Miracles'

C. S. Lewis's works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year, appealing to those seeking wisdom and calm in a hectic and ever-changing world. Each volume is written with the lucidity, warmth and wit that has made Lewis revered as a writer the world over.

From 'The Problem of Pain' - a wise and compassionate exploration of suffering -…


Book cover of A Life Made by Hand: The Story of Ruth Asawa

Elizabeth Brown Author Of Dancing Through Fields of Color: The Story of Helen Frankenthaler

From my list on women artists who broke barriers.

Who am I?

I have been involved in the arts all my life, working as a writer, in film, and as a musician. I have degrees in music and creative writing and have studied visual arts and art history extensively as well. Besides being an author, I teach writing and humanities at the college level. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do!

Elizabeth's book list on women artists who broke barriers

Elizabeth Brown Why did Elizabeth love this book?

This book tells the fascinating story of Ruth Asawa’s journey to becoming a sculptor and passing on these ideals to the next generation through her work as an advocate for arts education The illustrations are beautifully rendered and colorful. Inspirational for budding artists everywhere, the book also contains teaching tools and an art activity.

By Andrea D'Aquino,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Life Made by Hand as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ruth Asawa (1926-2013) was an influential and award-winning sculptor, a beloved figure in the Bay Area art world, and a devoted activist who advocated tirelessly for arts education. This lushly illustrated book by collage artist Andrea D'Aquino brings Asawa's creative journey to life, detailing the influence of her childhood in a farming family, and her education at Black Mountain College where she pursued an experimental course of education with leading avant-garde artists and thinkers such as Anni and Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, Merce Cunningham, and Robert Rauschenberg. Delightful and substantial, this engaging title for young art lovers includes a page…


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