100 books like The Midwife of Venice

By Roberta Rich,

Here are 100 books that The Midwife of Venice fans have personally recommended if you like The Midwife of Venice. 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 In the Company of the Courtesan: A Novel

Kathleen Ann Gonzalez Author Of A Beautiful Woman in Venice

From my list on undaunted Italian women to inspire you.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since 1996 when my first trip to Venice rearranged my interior life, I have been visiting the city and learning everything I can about it. Most of my reading led me to men’s history, but with some digging, I uncovered the stories of Venice’s inspired, undaunted, hardworking women. Their proto-feminism motivated me to share their stories with others in an attempt to redefine beauty. I’ve also created videos showing sites connected to these women’s lives, and I’ve written four books about Venetians, including extensive research into Giacomo Casanova and two anthologies celebrating Venetian life. Reading and writing about Venice helps me connect more deeply with my favorite city.

Kathleen's book list on undaunted Italian women to inspire you

Kathleen Ann Gonzalez Why did Kathleen love this book?

In prose that is engrossing and rich in color, culture, and voice, Dunant’s historical fiction novel incorporates stories of two of the women that I included in my own book.

The courtesan Fiammetta, loosely based on the life of Veronica Franco, and her healer La Draga, inspired by Elena Crusichi, pulled me into eighteenth-century Venice and its opportunities and dangers for enterprising women. Paired with reading Franco’s actual poems and letters, edited and translated by Ann Rosalind Jones and Margaret F. Rosenthal, I developed a deep admiration and compassion for Franco and Crusichi during Venice’s heyday.

Dunant has again written a page turner that I read more than once.

By Sarah Dunant,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked In the Company of the Courtesan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

My lady, Fiammetta Bianchini, was plucking her eyebrows and biting color into her lips when the unthinkable happened and the Holy Roman Emperor’s army blew a hole in the wall of God’s eternal city, letting in a flood of half-starved, half-crazed troops bent on pillage and punishment.

Thus begins In the Company of the Courtesan, Sarah Dunant’s epic novel of life in Renaissance Italy. Escaping the sack of Rome in 1527, with their stomachs churning on the jewels they have swallowed, the courtesan Fiammetta and her dwarf companion, Bucino, head for Venice, the shimmering city born out of water to…


Book cover of Virgins of Venice: Broken Vows and Cloistered Lives in the Renaissance Convent

Gina Buonaguro Author Of The Virgins of Venice

From my list on women in Renaissance Venice.

Why am I passionate about this?

My goal as a writer is to revive lost women’s stories through historical fiction. After co-authoring several historical novels, our last mystery set in Renaissance Rome, we decided to set the sequel in Venice. When we decided to split amicably before finishing that novel, I had spent so much time researching Renaissance Venice that I instantly knew I wanted to set my first solo novel there and focus on girls and women whose stories are so frequently lost to history. So began a quest to learn everything I could about the females of 15th and 16th-century Venice, leading me toward both academic and fictional works of the era.

Gina's book list on women in Renaissance Venice

Gina Buonaguro Why did Gina love this book?

Mary Laven’s readable academic book Virgins of Venice is the definitive resource on the topic of nuns in Renaissance Venice. She explores every aspect of what it was like to be and live as a nun during a roughly two-hundred-year period, when most convents were filled with high-status women of no religious calling, forced to live there by their fathers and the strict social conventions of the time.

By Mary Laven,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A portrait of 16th and 17th century Italian convent life, set in the vibrant culture of late Renaissance Venice. Early 16th century Venice had 50 convents and about 3000 nuns. Far from being places of religious devotion, the convents were often little more than dumping-grounds for unmarried women fron the upper ranks of Venetian society. Often entering a convent at seven years old, these young women remained emotionally and socially attached to their families and to their way of life outside the convent. Supported by their private incomes, the nuns ate, dressed and behaved as gentlewomen. In contravention of their…


Book cover of Marriage Wars in Late Renaissance Venice

Gina Buonaguro Author Of The Virgins of Venice

From my list on women in Renaissance Venice.

Why am I passionate about this?

My goal as a writer is to revive lost women’s stories through historical fiction. After co-authoring several historical novels, our last mystery set in Renaissance Rome, we decided to set the sequel in Venice. When we decided to split amicably before finishing that novel, I had spent so much time researching Renaissance Venice that I instantly knew I wanted to set my first solo novel there and focus on girls and women whose stories are so frequently lost to history. So began a quest to learn everything I could about the females of 15th and 16th-century Venice, leading me toward both academic and fictional works of the era.

Gina's book list on women in Renaissance Venice

Gina Buonaguro Why did Gina love this book?

This accessible academic work brings to life the inner workings – and breakdowns – of marriages at a time when annulment was the only option. Through court and ecclesiastical proceedings and petitions written by both sexes, the lives of ordinary women – including sexual relations, domestic abuse, cheating, and financial problems are made even more real by the voices of friends, neighbors, and in-laws.

By Joanne M. Ferraro,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Marriage Wars in Late Renaissance Venice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Based on a fascinating body of previously unexamined archival material, this book brings to life the lost voices of ordinary Venetians during the age of Catholic revival. Looking at scripts that were brought to the city's ecclesiastical courts by spouses seeking to annul their marriage vows, this book opens up the emotional world of intimacy and conflict, sexuality, and living arrangments that did not fit normative models of marriage.


Book cover of Ciao, Carpaccio! An Infatuation

Gina Buonaguro Author Of The Virgins of Venice

From my list on women in Renaissance Venice.

Why am I passionate about this?

My goal as a writer is to revive lost women’s stories through historical fiction. After co-authoring several historical novels, our last mystery set in Renaissance Rome, we decided to set the sequel in Venice. When we decided to split amicably before finishing that novel, I had spent so much time researching Renaissance Venice that I instantly knew I wanted to set my first solo novel there and focus on girls and women whose stories are so frequently lost to history. So began a quest to learn everything I could about the females of 15th and 16th-century Venice, leading me toward both academic and fictional works of the era.

Gina's book list on women in Renaissance Venice

Gina Buonaguro Why did Gina love this book?

A beautiful little book that showcases the paintings of early Renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio, we see many women in his works. Some of saints, some bordering on the fantastical, a few quite realistic – all the women in Carpaccio’s art would have been inspired by real women living and working in Venice in the late 1400s and early 1500s.

By Jan Morris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ciao, Carpaccio! An Infatuation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the course of writing Venice, her 1961 classic, Jan Morris became fascinated by the historical presence of a sometimes-overlooked Venetian painter. Nowadays the name of Vittore Carpaccio (1460-1520) suggests raw beef, but to Morris it conveyed far more profound meanings. Thus began a lifelong infatuation, reaching across the centuries, between a renowned Welsh writer and a great and delightfully entertaining artist of the early Renaissance. Handsomely designed with more than seventy photographs throughout, Ciao,Carpaccio! is a happy caprice of affection. In illuminating the life of the artist and his paintings, Morris throws in digressions about Venetian animals, courtesans, babies,…


Book cover of Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace and Purpose in a World of Crazy

Lida Citroën Author Of Success After Service: How to Take Control of Your Job Search and Career After Military Duty

From my list on success in a civilian life after the military.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an executive coach, personal branding consultant, and reputation management expert helping global executives, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders manage how they’re perceived and drive towards ideal opportunities. A long-time passionate supporter of the military, I volunteer to help veterans transitioning to civilian careers. My work with veterans comes from gratitude for their sacrifice. I regularly speak at military installations, podcasts, and events on veteran transition and hiring, teach in the TAP program at the US Air Force Academy, and serve on the Board of Directors at Project Sanctuary, which focuses on healing military families. Since 2012, I’ve also been a writer for Military.com.

Lida's book list on success in a civilian life after the military

Lida Citroën Why did Lida love this book?

I loved this book! It’s easy to get stuck on being busy with many tasks and responsibilities, and not move forward in our lives and careers.

This book helped me learn systems to become more efficient (in life and work), identify what was holding me back from being more empowered with my choices, and recognize when to say yes, and when to say no. Leaving the military – where “no” isn’t as much of an option, this is a good skill for veterans to embrace.

By Alli Worthington,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Do you feel like you're living busily but not abundantly? Are you struggling to find balance in life? Have you ever felt like you've reached your capacity and just need a break?

Bestselling author Alli Worthington dismantles common happiness myths and empowers you to rediscover your God-given purpose. In ten succinct chapters, Alli breaks apart the sources of our stress and tackles major topics like relationships, calling, traditions, and decisions. With her trademark candor, practicality, and uproarious true stories, she will help you:

Find your peace in a world of worry. Find your rhythm in a world that's constantly overwhelmed.…


Book cover of Sensible Shoes: A Story about the Spiritual Journey

Cheri Swalwell Author Of Sisters in Christ: Defeat the Enemy One Powerful Prayer At a Time

From my list on how to build a Sister in Christ relationship (and why you want one!).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had other Sisters in Christ, but it wasn’t until God introduced me to an amazing woman that I truly started to understand what it meant to be a Sister in Christ. A Sister in Christ is someone who encourages you, speaks the truth in love, and always points you back to God’s truths. She laughs with you, cries with you, and simply loves to do life with you. Sisters in Christ was born from this amazing friendship. To have this type of relationship is truly a blessing from God that needs to be shared in a community of fellow believers. 

Cheri's book list on how to build a Sister in Christ relationship (and why you want one!)

Cheri Swalwell Why did Cheri love this book?

This book was amazing and the author was incredible with how she brought spiritual truths alive using a fictious group of women that I genuinely grew to love.

It has been five to six years since I’ve read this entire series and I still remember the details of the women’s stories. It shows what it means to live as a Sister in Christ with others in community so wonderfully while pointing people to a closer relationship to God. Amazing series, this is simply the first book!

By Sharon Garlough Brown,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Sensible Shoes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Over 100,000 Copies Sold Worldwide!
Midwest Publishing Awards Show Honorable Mention

Sharon Garlough Brown tells the moving story of four strangers as they embark together on a journey of spiritual formation:

Hannah, a pastor who doesn't realize how exhausted she is.

Meg, a widow and recent empty-nester who is haunted by her past.

Mara, a woman who has experienced a lifetime of rejection and is now trying to navigate a difficult marriage.

Charissa, a hard-working graduate student who wants to get things right.

You're invited to join these four women as they reluctantly arrive at a retreat center and find…


Book cover of Boxers & Saints

Moro Rogers Author Of City in the Desert

From my list on ideological adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in a household with a fantasy author dad and a philosophy professor mom, I learned to appreciate stories that expressed big ideas. I realized the books and movies I liked weren’t just vehicles for ideology, but that ideas are the hooks that draw me into a story. I’ve also always loved animals and monsters. Like Miyazaki and C.S. Lewis, I was attempting to create a narrative that brought my beliefs and interests together. Now I live in Southern California with my husband, son, and cat, surrounded by rattlesnakes, tarantulas, hawks, and coyotes. It’s an imperfect, beautiful world! 

Moro's book list on ideological adventure

Moro Rogers Why did Moro love this book?

I’ve always loved Hong Kong New Wave movies, but they often emphasize action and flashy melodrama over historical context. For someone wanting to dig a little deeper, the graphic novel Boxers & Saints is a look into the parallel lives of two Chinese teenagers during the Boxer Rebellion—One is a red-blooded patriot eager to fight Western invaders. The other is a troubled girl who finds liberation in Christianity. Both characters are carried along, motivated, and then betrayed by fanaticism. When their paths cross, they are forced to learn the difference between religious faith and religious mania. The simple artwork isn’t meant to be lingered over…I read all 512 pages at breakneck speed.

By Gene Luen Yang,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Boxers & Saints as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

The Boxers & Saints Boxed Set from Gene Luen Yang, one of the greatest comics storytellers alive, brings all his formidable talents to bear in this astonishing work.

In two volumes, Boxers & Saints tells two parallel stories. The first is of Little Bao, a Chinese peasant boy whose village is abused and plundered by Westerners claiming the role of missionaries. Little Bao, inspired by visions of the Chinese gods, joins a violent uprising against the Western interlopers. Against all odds, their grass-roots rebellion is successful.

But in the second volume, Yang lays out the opposite side of the conflict.…


Book cover of The Book of Margery Kempe

Nicola Rose O'Hara Author Of Girl With Two Fingers

From my list on taking you where you can’t go.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve chosen these books because they take me to times and places I can’t go (although I did serendipitously get to Kerala, and am hoping to go to the West Coast of America one day). Girl with Two Fingers takes you into the studio, hopefully as if you could have been there yourself. I want readers to be able to share something of the experience I was so lucky to have. And to be able to see perhaps more questioningly when they look at art.

Nicola's book list on taking you where you can’t go

Nicola Rose O'Hara Why did Nicola love this book?

You can’t go to the past, but the past can come to you, through a written voice. 

This is a strong and extraordinary woman’s autobiography from the late 1400s and early 1500s. It’s like taking a phone call from the 15th century.

This directness is what I wanted in my own book.

Kempe could neither read nor write, so she dictated her story. She did things women often weren’t able to do back then. She ran a business, travelled to France, Germany, Spain, and even to Jerusalem. And she spoke out against many received medieval opinions.

How brave Kempe was to challenge the patriarchy.

By Margery Kempe, Lynn Staley (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Kempe's work is accompanied by an introduction, a map of medieval England, a Kempe lexicon, and explanatory annotations.

"Contexts" collects primary readings that illuminate The Book of Margery Kempe. Included are excerpts from The Constitutions of Thomas Arundel, Meditations on the Life of Christ, The Shewings of Julian of Norwich, The Book of Saint Bride, and The Life of Marie d'Oignies by Jacques de Vitry.

"Criticism" includes nine varied interpretations of the autobiography, written by Clarissa W. Atkinson, Lynn Staley, Karma Lochrie, David Aers, Kathleen Ashley, Gail McMurray Gibson, Sarah Beckwith, Caroline Walker Bynum, and Nicholas Watson.

A Selected Bibliography…


Book cover of Silence

Ken Yoder Reed Author Of Both My Sons

From my list on time travel to transport to another time and place.

Why am I passionate about this?

"There is no frigate like a book"—my grade school teacher, Mrs. Gundy, liked to quote Emily Dickinson as she encouraged us to read. I became a novelist because I found imagination has the power to transport a reader across centuries and perhaps national boundaries and into a character’s heart and soul. After growing up in the Mennonite/Amish culture of Pennsylvania I published four novels, three of them three historical novels that present that culture. What do I look for in good historical fiction? An unforgettable character and a good capture of the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the times in which that character lives. The five books I recommend all do that.

Ken's book list on time travel to transport to another time and place

Ken Yoder Reed Why did Ken love this book?

Japan’s Tokugawa Era was created by the first shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, in 1603. Ieyasu withdrew Japan from international trade and relations and created a closed, feudal society.  For 250 years, the Japanese conducted international trade only with the Dutch and Chinese, and even then only in specially designated trading ports such as the manmade island of Dejima in Nagasaki harbor. Ieyasu also brutally suppressed Christianity and expelled European missionaries. 

Silence tells the story of a Portuguese Jesuit priest, Sebastiao Rodrigues, who is sent by the Catholic Church to Japan in 1639 to investigate reports that his mentor, a Jesuit priest in Japan named Ferreira, has committed apostasy and renounced the Christian faith. About half of the book is Rodriguez's written journal. Rodrigues and his companion Garrpe arrive in Japan to find the local Christian population has been driven underground. To ferret out these hidden Christians, government officials force suspected Christians…

By Shusaku Endo, William Johnston (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now a major motion picture directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Liam Neeson, Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield.

With an introduction by Martin Scorsese

'One of the finest historical novels written by anyone, anywhere . . . Flawless' - David Mitchell

Father Rodrigues is an idealistic Portuguese Jesuit priest who, in the 1640s, sets sail for Japan on a determined mission to help the brutally oppressed Japanese Christians and to discover the truth behind unthinkable rumours that his famous teacher Ferreira has renounced his faith. Once faced with the realities of religious persecution Rodrigues himself is forced to make an impossible…


Book cover of Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life's Experiences and God's Faithfulness

Cheri Swalwell Author Of Sisters in Christ: Defeat the Enemy One Powerful Prayer At a Time

From my list on how to build a Sister in Christ relationship (and why you want one!).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had other Sisters in Christ, but it wasn’t until God introduced me to an amazing woman that I truly started to understand what it meant to be a Sister in Christ. A Sister in Christ is someone who encourages you, speaks the truth in love, and always points you back to God’s truths. She laughs with you, cries with you, and simply loves to do life with you. Sisters in Christ was born from this amazing friendship. To have this type of relationship is truly a blessing from God that needs to be shared in a community of fellow believers. 

Cheri's book list on how to build a Sister in Christ relationship (and why you want one!)

Cheri Swalwell Why did Cheri love this book?

This book is amazing. I love how the author not only explains the reasons behind mentoring and the importance of mentoring and how God instructs older women in Titus 2 to mentor younger women, and older men to mentor younger men, but the reason behind mentoring.

This book reminded me a lot of Sisters in Christ especially how the author broke down Titus 2 as talked about above. I loved the stories and quotes shared by real mentoring relationships woven throughout the book. This made it more personal and also got me more excited.

I have been following this author’s blog for years and this book just felt like a giant hug from a friend. 

By Janet Thompson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mentoring for All Seasons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Realize the value and blessings of participating in mentoring relationships during all stages, ages, and seasons of life.

Women often don't think they know enough to be a mentor, or fear rejection if they ask someone to mentor them. Others don't think they need mentoring. However, throughout the Bible, God calls spiritually younger and older women to learn from and teach one another.

Mentoring for All Seasons helps answer questions like these:
- What is mentoring?
- How do I find a mentor?
- Why does God want us to mentor one another?
- What are the blessings of mentoring?…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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