100 books like The Quattro Cento and Stones of Rimini

By Adrian Stokes,

Here are 100 books that The Quattro Cento and Stones of Rimini fans have personally recommended if you like The Quattro Cento and Stones of Rimini. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture

Richard Weston Author Of 100 Ideas that Changed Architecture

From my list on that formed my understanding of architecture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by architecture and landscape architecture since discovering the work of Le Corbusier at the age of sixteen. Most of my life has been spent teaching and writing about it - fifteen books and numerous articles - with occasional forays into designing and building. I took early retirement as a Professor of  Architecture in 2013, the year after enjoying ‘Fifteen Minutes of Fame’ on a BBC TV series featuring the development of my ‘mineral scarves’ for Liberty of London. This led to a creative app and website for children called Molly’s World (to be launched in 2024) and on my seventieth birthday in 2023 I launched an architectural and garden design studio.

Richard's book list on that formed my understanding of architecture

Richard Weston Why did Richard love this book?

I was introduced to this at the end of my first year as an architecture student and it introduced me to looking at history through a designer’s eyes.

The original and best edition was in a small format, packed with postage-stamp-sized illustrations. Venturi’s target was the reductive, less-is-more strand of Modern architecture. ‘Less is a bore’, Venturi declared, and he opened my eyes to Mannerism and the Baroque and offered new insights into modern masters such as Aalto and Le Corbusier. 

Book cover of My Work

Richard Weston Author Of 100 Ideas that Changed Architecture

From my list on that formed my understanding of architecture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by architecture and landscape architecture since discovering the work of Le Corbusier at the age of sixteen. Most of my life has been spent teaching and writing about it - fifteen books and numerous articles - with occasional forays into designing and building. I took early retirement as a Professor of  Architecture in 2013, the year after enjoying ‘Fifteen Minutes of Fame’ on a BBC TV series featuring the development of my ‘mineral scarves’ for Liberty of London. This led to a creative app and website for children called Molly’s World (to be launched in 2024) and on my seventieth birthday in 2023 I launched an architectural and garden design studio.

Richard's book list on that formed my understanding of architecture

Richard Weston Why did Richard love this book?

I bought My Work when I was sixteen and it was the catalyst for a lifetime devoted to architecture.

Written shortly before he died, it is a passionate, personal account of Le Corbusier’s work. Profusely illustrated and beautifully designed, it covers his work as draughtsman and painter, sculptor and writer - and, of course, as - in my view - the greatest architect ever to pick up a tee-square.

At the opening of his exquisite pilgrimage chapel at Ronchamp, Le Corbusier was asked if he had to believe in God to create such a building. ‘No,’ he replied, ‘I had to believe in architecture.’ This is a book by a believer to convert newcomers to the greatest of the arts.

By Le Corbusier,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the He does not have the open expression and the easy smile of those who readily inspire sympathy; animation and grace are lacking; the eyes are dull, the voice is flat and uneven. But candour and strength reinforce an impressive demeanour seemingly built for defence, behind which he appears to withdraw, to watch and to observe. It is very hard not to feel respect and curiosity! He has known (and still knows) incomprehension, hostility, betrayal and, worse still, gross injustice. For more than forty years he has had to wage war-on his own ground of architecture and planning-against the…


Book cover of The Nature Of Gothic

Richard Weston Author Of 100 Ideas that Changed Architecture

From my list on that formed my understanding of architecture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by architecture and landscape architecture since discovering the work of Le Corbusier at the age of sixteen. Most of my life has been spent teaching and writing about it - fifteen books and numerous articles - with occasional forays into designing and building. I took early retirement as a Professor of  Architecture in 2013, the year after enjoying ‘Fifteen Minutes of Fame’ on a BBC TV series featuring the development of my ‘mineral scarves’ for Liberty of London. This led to a creative app and website for children called Molly’s World (to be launched in 2024) and on my seventieth birthday in 2023 I launched an architectural and garden design studio.

Richard's book list on that formed my understanding of architecture

Richard Weston Why did Richard love this book?

Extracted from Ruskin’s three-volume account of ‘The Stones of Venice’, this was published with an introduction by William Morris, Ruskin’s greatest disciple and founder of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Ruskin’s High Victorian writing style is a barrier to some, but he is the greatest English writer on architecture whose ideas about the importance of craftsmanship and moral value of authentic architecture are an antidote to our present condition.

Extolling the virtues of ‘Savageness’, ‘Changefulness’ and ‘Love of Nature’ his ideas are newly relevant as we address the environmental and social consequences of the Industrial Revolution he detested for its impact on our humanity.

By John Ruskin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work.


Book cover of Letters on Cezanne

Richard Weston Author Of 100 Ideas that Changed Architecture

From my list on that formed my understanding of architecture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by architecture and landscape architecture since discovering the work of Le Corbusier at the age of sixteen. Most of my life has been spent teaching and writing about it - fifteen books and numerous articles - with occasional forays into designing and building. I took early retirement as a Professor of  Architecture in 2013, the year after enjoying ‘Fifteen Minutes of Fame’ on a BBC TV series featuring the development of my ‘mineral scarves’ for Liberty of London. This led to a creative app and website for children called Molly’s World (to be launched in 2024) and on my seventieth birthday in 2023 I launched an architectural and garden design studio.

Richard's book list on that formed my understanding of architecture

Richard Weston Why did Richard love this book?

This short book is not about architecture, but about the supremely ‘architectural’ painter, Paul Cézanne, who almost literally ‘built’ his paintings brushstroke by brushstroke.

The author, Rilke, was a great poet and the book consists of a series of letters he wrote home to his wife after almost daily visits to the great memorial exhibition of Cézanne’s work held in Paris 1907, the year after his death. At first he struggled to understand Cézanne’s work, but by the end he offers one of the most profound meditations on aesthetic values I know.

His discovery of Cézanne was, Rilke declared, the most important influence on his poetry and changed his life. These letters changed mine, and I cannot recommend them too highly. 

By Rainer Maria Rilke, Joel Agee (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Rilke's prayerful responses to the french master's beseeching art

For a long time nothing, and then suddenly one has the right eyes.

Virtually every day in the fall of 1907, Rainer Maria Rilke returned to a Paris gallery to view a Cezanne exhibition. Nearly as frequently, he wrote dense and joyful letters to his wife, Clara Westhoff, expressing his dismay before the paintings and his ensuing revelations about art and life.

Rilke was knowledgeable about art and had even published monographs, including a famous study of Rodin that inspired his New Poems. But Cezanne's impact on him could not be…


Book cover of How to Be Both

Christine Higdon Author Of The Very Marrow of Our Bones

From my list on motherhood, mother loss, and everything mother-ish.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the acknowledgments in my novel I mention my late mother “who might have wanted to flee, but didn’t.” My pregnant mother driving eight hours down the Fraser Canyon. Baby me “in a cardboard box” in the front seat, my brothers, armed with pop guns, in the back. My dad, having finally found work, gone ahead alone. We didn’t tell this as a story of her courage and strength. It was considered funny. But after I became a mother, I had a clearer vision of the stress and poverty of my mother’s life. My novel, and the ones I’m recommending, show compassion for women as mothers, and for their children, who are sometimes left behind.

Christine's book list on motherhood, mother loss, and everything mother-ish

Christine Higdon Why did Christine love this book?

In modern-day England, a teenager, George (Georgia), has lost her mother. In Renaissance Italy, Francesco del Cossa, a young and talented fresco painter, is motherless as well. Smith gives us a choice: Read George’s half of the book first, or read Francesco’s. Whichever we choose, the lives of these two young people are intricately interlaced. Their sadness and joy; their way of looking at the world around them. George has been to see a fresco in Italy created by Francesco. She is in a complex, post-death conversation with her mother, filled with longing. Francesco (or should that be Francesca?) tells his/her own life story and observes George in hers. I loved the challenging, poetic, playful, and tender nature of this book.

By Ali Smith,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How to Be Both as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2015
WINNER OF THE GOLDSMITHS PRIZE 2014
WINNER OF THE 2014 COSTA NOVEL AWARD

'I take my hat off to Ali Smith. Her writing lifts the soul' Evening Standard

How to be both is a novel all about art's versatility. Borrowing from painting's fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it's a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. There's a renaissance artist of the 1460s. There's the child of a child of the 1960s.

Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless,…


Book cover of Cosmicomics

Michael Sussman Author Of Incognolio

From my list on absurdist humor.

Why am I passionate about this?

I craved attention as a child, and often used humor to get it. I also loved to read. As I aged, I was increasingly struck by the absurdity of the human condition and was drawn to stories that dealt with the ridiculous, nonsensical, and incongruous sides of life. Prone to depression and fascinated by Freud, I became a clinical psychologist, only to discover that my colleagues were as emotionally disturbed as I was! I even wrote a book about it, titled A Curious Calling: Unconscious Motivations for Practicing Psychotherapy. So, when I turned to writing fiction—Otto Grows Down, Duckworth: The Difficult Child, and Incognolio—I reveled in the absurd.

Michael's book list on absurdist humor

Michael Sussman Why did Michael love this book?

Calvino’s Cosmicomics is perhaps the funniest and most outlandish collections of short stories I’ve ever come across. Think Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time meets Alice in Wonderland. Starting with the Big Bang and charting the entire evolution of the universe and of life on Earth, Calvino’s narrator shape-shifts from a man, to a dinosaur, to a mollusk, a single-cell organism, a subatomic particle, and even a disembodied being. In this linked collection of modern fairy tales, the author displays wild flights of imagination, combining scientific rigor with an uproarious repudiation of logic. Oh, and the narrator’s name is Qfwfq.

By Italo Calvino, William Weaver (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Introducing Little Clothbound Classics: irresistible, mini editions of short stories, novellas and essays from the world's greatest writers, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith.

Celebrating the range and diversity of Penguin Classics, they take us from snowy Japan to springtime Vienna, from haunted New England to a sun-drenched Mediterranean island, and from a game of chess on the ocean to a love story on the moon. Beautifully designed and printed, these collectible editions are bound in colourful, tactile cloth and stamped with foil.

Twelve enchanting and fantastical stories about the evolution of the universe from the giant of Italian literature,…


Book cover of The Dark Heart of Italy

Stephen Morrow Author Of The People's Game? Football, Finance and Society

From my list on football as a game, as business, and as community.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up I was fanatical about football - playing, watching, reading and talking about it. I was also a little obsessed with its numbers, and apparently liked to recalculate league tables and goal differences in my head as the results came in on the BBC vidiprinter. Fast forward to University in the 1980s - a time when studying football’s business aspects was not common - I wrote my dissertation on the ‘Capital structure of Scottish football’. A Scottish perspective has remained present in much of my work, and I hope it also allows a little more distance when reflecting on the success and challenges faced by football in England.

Stephen's book list on football as a game, as business, and as community

Stephen Morrow Why did Stephen love this book?

I was fortunate to be on sabbatical in Italy in 2005, not long after the salva calcio (save football) decree was passed by Silvio Berlusconi, then Italian Prime Minister and owner of AC Milan.

The legislation was essentially a form of legalised creative accounting which sought to legitimize clubs’ poor financial positions and performance by inflating player asset values on balance sheets.

Jones’ book is not just about football.

But within a fascinating critique of Berlusconi’s Italy, there is brilliant insight into calcio in all its forms – the beauty and joy of what happens on the field, the poetic and intelligent language with which frequently it is discussed in stadiums, cafes, and TV stations, its cultural significance, and, of course, its myriad of political, financial and governance scandals. Andiamo.

By Tobias Jones,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An essential guide to the strange, sometimes sinister culture of contemporary Italy.

When Tobias Jones first travelled to Italy, he expected to discover the pastoral bliss described by centuries of foreign visitors and famous writers. Instead, he discovered a very different country, besieged by unfathomable terrorism and deep-seated paranoia, where crime is scarcely ever met with punishment.

Now, in this fascinating travelogue, Jones explores not just Italy's familiar delights (art, climate, cuisine), but the livelier and stranger sides of the bel paese: language, football, Catholicism, cinema, television and terrorism. Why, he wonders, do bombs still explode every time politics start…


Book cover of Sawdust Caesar: The Untold History of Mussolini and Fascism

Martin M. Winkler Author Of Arminius the Liberator: Myth and Ideology

From my list on ideological and popular uses of ancient Rome.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Professor of Classics at George Mason University. I learned about ancient Romans and Greeks in my native Germany, when I attended a humanist high school, possibly the oldest in the country. (It was founded during the reign of Charlemagne, as the eastern half of the Roman Empire was still flourishing.) My mother once informed me that I betrayed my passion for stories long before I could read because I enthusiastically used to tear pages out of books. In my teens I became fascinated with stories told in moving images. I have been a bibliophile and, em, cinemaniac ever since and have pursued both my obsessions in my publications.

Martin's book list on ideological and popular uses of ancient Rome

Martin M. Winkler Why did Martin love this book?

An American journalist, expelled from Italy in 1925, traces roots, rise, and rule of Il Duce in this 1935 book, which is as vivid as its title.

Mussolini appears as a cheap showman, who, “acting the Hero,” revived ancient Roman pomp and spectacles. He was also aware of the power of mass media, especially the cinema, “posing before men and moviemen.”

One of the virtues of Seldes’ book are the extensive quotations, which unmask Mussolini and others in their own words. Fascist documents, quoted at length, include “The Fascist Decalogue” (note its VIII. Commandment!) and the “Fascist Catechism,” which must be read to be (dis)believed.

Seldes’ book has become valuable again in the current age of assorted domestic and foreign media- and image-obsessed demagogues, autocrats, and dictators.

Book cover of Police Power in the Italian Communes, 1228-1326

Jill Leovy Author Of Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America

From my list on escaping the true-crime rut.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jill Leovy, author of Ghettoside, is a journalist and independent researcher who covered the Los Angeles Police Department and homicide for fifteen years, and who is currently working on a book dealing with murder and feud in human history. She has covered hundreds of street homicides and shadowed patrol cops, and she spent several years embedded in homicide detective units. More recently, she has been a Harvard sociology fellow and a featured speaker on Homer and violence at St. John's College, New Mexico. She is a senior fellow at the USC Center on Communication Leadership and Policy.

Jill's book list on escaping the true-crime rut

Jill Leovy Why did Jill love this book?

This is a much-needed antidote to the navel-gazing tendencies of American criminal justice thought.

Reading contemporary treatments, you might almost be fooled into thinking that certain types of police controversies have a specifically American – or at least modern origin. They don't. In fact, the peculiar challenges of policing and its inevitable discontents might even be universal.

Certainly, they were present at an early stage in medieval Italy, long before the first English "bobbies" ever dawned a uniform. Use-of-force controversies, weapons prohibitions, reluctant witnesses, hostile crowds, simmering beefs among local gangsters: it's all here. Roberts' medieval world so eerily resembles our own when it comes to law enforcement that one ends up surprised to encounter any differences at all.

Here's one, though: medieval town dwellers did not have cell phones with which to film the cops misdeeds. Instead, they hollered for notaries to scribble records on the spot.

By Gregory Roberts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Police Power in the Italian Communes, 1228-1326 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Medieval states are widely assumed to have lacked police forces. Yet in the Italian city-republics, soldiers patrolled the streets daily in search of lawbreakers. Police Power in the Italian Communes, 1228-1326 is the first book to examine the emergence of urban policing in medieval Italy and its impact on city life. Focusing on Bologna in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, Gregory Roberts shows how police forces gave teeth to the communes' many statutes through a range of patrol activities. Whether seeking outlaws in the countryside or nighttime serenaders in the streets, urban police forces pursued lawbreakers energetically and effectively.…


Book cover of The Italian Renaissance and the Origins of the Modern Humanities: An Intellectual History, 1400-1800

Herman Paul Author Of Writing the History of the Humanities

From my list on the history of the humanities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started my career as a historian of historiography and now hold a chair in the history of the humanities at Leiden University. What I like about this field is its comparative agenda. How does art history relate to media studies, and what do Arabists have in common with musicologists? Even more intriguing, as far as I’m concerned, is the question of what holds the humanities together. I think that history can help us understand how the humanities have developed as they have, differently in different parts of the world. As the field called history of the humanities has only recently emerged, there is plenty of work to do!

Herman's book list on the history of the humanities

Herman Paul Why did Herman love this book?

Whether or not one wants to make a case for the modern humanities deriving from the studia humanitatis in Renaissance Italy, it is undeniable that Renaissance humanism has been a source of endless fascination for humanities scholars. I enjoyed this book partly because it shows how this fascination led seventeenth- and eighteenth-century scholars to “recapitulate practices and mentalities that Italian Renaissance humanists pioneered.” It is such borrowing and reapplying that explains how a “humanistic tradition” could take shape. Another intriguing point is Celenza’s argument that this tradition has historically revolved as much around wisdom as about knowledge. While we modern academics know very well how to produce knowledge, what has happened to the wisdom part? Can the humanities survive, Celenza asks, without “reflection on the self and on life”?

By Christopher S. Celenza,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Italian Renaissance and the Origins of the Modern Humanities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Christopher Celenza is one of the foremost contemporary scholars of the Renaissance. His ambitious new book focuses on the body of knowledge which we now call the humanities, charting its roots in the Italian Renaissance and exploring its development up to the Enlightenment. Beginning in the fifteenth century, the author shows how thinkers like Lorenzo Valla and Angelo Poliziano developed innovative ways to read texts closely, paying attention to historical context, developing methods to determine a text's authenticity, and taking the humanities seriously as a means of bettering human life. Alongside such novel reading practices, technology - the invention of…


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