100 books like The Written World

By Amanda Hingst,

Here are 100 books that The Written World fans have personally recommended if you like The Written World. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Summer of the Danes

Tracey Warr Author Of Daughter of the Last King

From my list on reads in idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a library, an eccentric bookshop, or the roadside book exchange cupboards where I live in rural southwest France. There is serendipity and synergy in what can be found through browsing (as opposed to purposeful searching). I am the author of five historical novels set in medieval Europe and centred on strong female leads. Idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries bring unexpected twists to my research and writing. My six-year-old grandson recently started to read after his mum and I read many bedtime stories to him. It was a thrilling moment to hear him join the ranks of readers. Writing is inspired by and learned from voracious reading. 

Tracey's book list on reads in idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries

Tracey Warr Why did Tracey love this book?

Found at Animal Kitchen Bookshop in Narberth, Wales, which has now, sadly, disappeared.

A bookshop that looked like a pet shop from the outside and was piled high with books in absolutely no order inside. After an hour’s happy trawling, I asked the owner if he had any Ellis Peters.

He fished out a box from under his desk and I took as many as I could carry.

This is my favourite Cadfael medieval murder mystery because of its setting in Gwynedd Wales and the appearance of Cadwaladr, who I was very interested in researching at the time.

Like my Welsh trilogy, The Summer of the Danes is set during ‘The Anarchy’, the civil war between King Stephen and Empress Matilda.

By Ellis Peters,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1144, a strange calm has settled over England. The armies of King Stephen and Empress Maud have temporarily exhausted each other. Brother Cadfael considers peace a blessing, but a little excitement never comes amiss to a former soldier and Cadfael is delighted to accompany his young friend, Brother Mark, on a mission of church diplomacy to his native Wales, not expecting to be caught up in yet another royal feud. The Welsh prince Owain Gwynedd has banished his brother Cadwaladr, accusing him of the treacherous murder of an ally. The reckless Cadwaldr has retaliated by landing…


Book cover of The Golden Egg

Tracey Warr Author Of Daughter of the Last King

From my list on reads in idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a library, an eccentric bookshop, or the roadside book exchange cupboards where I live in rural southwest France. There is serendipity and synergy in what can be found through browsing (as opposed to purposeful searching). I am the author of five historical novels set in medieval Europe and centred on strong female leads. Idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries bring unexpected twists to my research and writing. My six-year-old grandson recently started to read after his mum and I read many bedtime stories to him. It was a thrilling moment to hear him join the ranks of readers. Writing is inspired by and learned from voracious reading. 

Tracey's book list on reads in idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries

Tracey Warr Why did Tracey love this book?

Found at the Festilitt annual secondhand booksale in Parisot, France.

Any Donna Leon book is irresistible to me. I know I will enjoy inhabiting those Venetian streets and cafes with her Inspector Brunetti; dining with his family, including his wife, who is an expert on Henry James; hearing more about his colleagues (good and bad) at the police station.

Like Peters’ Cadfael series or Jane Austen’s novels, Leon works on a little piece of ivory – a constrained world and community that the reader can step into. Once there, with Inspector Brunetti, we must puzzle out another well-crafted mystery that evidences both the cruelties and the kindnesses of the human heart.

By Donna Leon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The familiar characters and Venetian location are described with remarkable freshness and, as always, the edifying result is both amusing and thought-provoking.' Sunday Telegraph

A New York Times Bestseller
__________________________________

Celebrated by The Times as one of the 50 Greatest Crime Writers, Donna Leon brings Venice to life in the twenty-second Brunetti novel of this bestselling series, where our detective must uncover the mystery surrounding a mute man's murder.

When making routine enquiries into a possible bribery case that could embarrass the mayor - a humiliation Vice-Questore Patta is very keen to avoid - Commissario Brunetti receives a call from…


Book cover of The Women Troubadours

Tracey Warr Author Of Daughter of the Last King

From my list on reads in idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a library, an eccentric bookshop, or the roadside book exchange cupboards where I live in rural southwest France. There is serendipity and synergy in what can be found through browsing (as opposed to purposeful searching). I am the author of five historical novels set in medieval Europe and centred on strong female leads. Idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries bring unexpected twists to my research and writing. My six-year-old grandson recently started to read after his mum and I read many bedtime stories to him. It was a thrilling moment to hear him join the ranks of readers. Writing is inspired by and learned from voracious reading. 

Tracey's book list on reads in idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries

Tracey Warr Why did Tracey love this book?

Found in the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Library in Carmarthen during my MA Creative Writing.

Bogin delivers racy translations of the female troubadour poetry and a substantial essay on their context. This was a serendipitous find for me, as I was writing about an 11th-century woman in southern France at the time, Almodis de La Marche, and it set me off on another bout of research that led to another bout of writing.

Female troubadours figure in several of my novels and a very louche, Welsh bard spy is a key character in my trilogy. He is based on my best friend and muse.

By Meg Bogin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the first twentieth-century study of the women troubadours who flourished in Southern France between 1150 and 1250-the great period of troubadour poetry. The book is comprised of a full-length essay on women in the Middle Ages, twenty-three poems by the women troubadours themselves in the original Provencal with translations on facing pages, a capsule biography of each poet, notes, and reading list.


Book cover of Aethelflaed: The Lady of the Mercians

Tracey Warr Author Of Daughter of the Last King

From my list on reads in idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a library, an eccentric bookshop, or the roadside book exchange cupboards where I live in rural southwest France. There is serendipity and synergy in what can be found through browsing (as opposed to purposeful searching). I am the author of five historical novels set in medieval Europe and centred on strong female leads. Idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries bring unexpected twists to my research and writing. My six-year-old grandson recently started to read after his mum and I read many bedtime stories to him. It was a thrilling moment to hear him join the ranks of readers. Writing is inspired by and learned from voracious reading. 

Tracey's book list on reads in idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries

Tracey Warr Why did Tracey love this book?

Found in the British Library, where I would be quite happy to move in on a permanent basis if only they would let me.

I’ve read many excellent biographies of medieval women there, including Kimberley LoPrete’s Adela de Blois, Alison Weir’s Queens of the Conquest, Kari Maund’s Princess Nest of Wales, and Lois L. Honeycutt’s Matilda of Scotland. Clarkson’s biography is eminently readable.

In lucid and concise prose garnished with maps, genealogies, a good index, and bibliography, this book paints a fascinating picture of King Alfred’s daughter.

By Tim Clarkson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The true story of the Lady of the Mercians.

At the end of the ninth century AD, a large part of what is now England was controlled by the Vikings - heathen warriors from Scandinavia who had been attacking the British Isles for more than a hundred years. Alfred the Great, king of Wessex, was determined to regain the conquered lands but his death in 899 meant that the task passed to his son Edward. In the early 900s, Edward led a great fightback against the Viking armies. He was assisted by the English rulers of Mercia: Lord AEthelred and…


Book cover of Crusaders and Revolutionaries of the Thirteenth Century: De Montfort

Sharon Bennett Connolly Author Of Defenders of the Norman Crown: Rise and Fall of the Warenne Earls of Surrey

From my list on histories of medieval families.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by history my whole life and have now published 4 non-fiction history books. My fourth and latest book, Defenders of the Norman Crown: Rise and Fall of the Warenne Earls of Surrey, tells the story of the Warenne earls over 300 years and 8 generations. A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, I have studied history academically and just for fun. I even worked as a tour guide at a castle! I also write the highly popular history blog History... the Interesting Bits, and I am also a feature writer for All About History magazine. My TV work includes Australian Television's Who Do You Think You Are?

Sharon's book list on histories of medieval families

Sharon Bennett Connolly Why did Sharon love this book?

There are so many reasons to love Crusaders and Revolutionaries of the Thirteenth Century: De Montfort by Darren Baker. The foremost reason is that it is a fabulous, enjoyable, and entertaining read. Darren Baker has fast become the ‘go-to’ historian for all things De Montfort. His research is thorough, and the story is recounted in an accessible manner that draws the reader in. Told in chronological order, the narrative flows freely, drawing the reader into the lives of this incredible family.

The second reason is the cover. If there ever was a cover to attract a reader, this is it. It is stunning! And the artwork was done by a de Montfort descendant, Rosana de Montfort. It epitomises the ethos of the medieval barons, their sense of duty, and dedication to the crusading ideal. It is a wonderful book for anyone interested in medieval history, either for leisure, research,…

By Darren Baker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Crusaders and Revolutionaries of the Thirteenth Century as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the families that dominated the thirteenth century were the de Montforts. They arose in France, in a hamlet close to Paris, and grew to prominence under the crusading fervour of that time, taking them from leadership in the Albigensian wars to lordships around the Mediterranean. They marry into the English aristocracy, join the crusade to the Holy Land, then another crusade in the south of France against the Cathars.

The controversial stewardship of Simon de Montfort (V) in that conflict is explored in depth. It is his son Simon de Montfort (VI) who is perhaps best known. His…


Book cover of The Atlas of the Crusades

Alfred Andrea Author Of Seven Myths of the Crusades

From my list on the medieval crusades by world-class historians.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was fated to become a crusade historian. Research for my doctoral dissertation on medieval relations between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople inevitably led me to the Fourth Crusade. I was hooked, and for the past fifty-plus years the crusades have been a passion—I hope a healthy one.  Although I have published two books on the Fourth Crusade, my crusading interests have now gone global, and I am currently studying sixteenth-century crusading in the eastern Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, Ethiopia, and the Americas. Perhaps someday I shall turn to more modern crusades. Sad to say, the crusades are still with us.

Alfred's book list on the medieval crusades by world-class historians

Alfred Andrea Why did Alfred love this book?

A solid grasp of crusading geography is essential for anyone who wishes to understand these complex holy wars, and this book is unsurpassed in providing such information in a clear and comprehensible manner. Its many maps and charts, each beautifully drawn and accompanied by insightful commentary and, in most cases, relevant illustrations and excerpts from primary sources, make this an indispensable resource that belongs in every crusade historian’s library. If you can find a used copy of this out-of-print treasure, buy it without hesitation. Be careful, there is another so-called atlas of the crusades out there by someone who is not a crusade historian, and it is filled with numerous errors.   

By Jonathan Riley-Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The crusading movement was to play a dramatic role in the religious, political and economic development of Europe and the Near East over 700 years. In 1095 Pope Urban II called on the knights of Christendom to "liberate" Jerusalem from the Muslims. In response, crusaders from all over Europe were to claim by war, by diplomacy and by settlement, new Catholic Christian territories in the Holy Land. Over the following centuries, crusades were fought on land and at sea in many different theatres of war: the Eastern Mediterranean, the shores of the Baltic and the Black Sea, Spain, North Africa…


Book cover of The Crusades

Alfred Andrea Author Of Seven Myths of the Crusades

From my list on the medieval crusades by world-class historians.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was fated to become a crusade historian. Research for my doctoral dissertation on medieval relations between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople inevitably led me to the Fourth Crusade. I was hooked, and for the past fifty-plus years the crusades have been a passion—I hope a healthy one.  Although I have published two books on the Fourth Crusade, my crusading interests have now gone global, and I am currently studying sixteenth-century crusading in the eastern Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, Ethiopia, and the Americas. Perhaps someday I shall turn to more modern crusades. Sad to say, the crusades are still with us.

Alfred's book list on the medieval crusades by world-class historians

Alfred Andrea Why did Alfred love this book?

There are numerous excellent books of every length (one runs more than 900 pages) that survey the crusades across the centuries and in their multiple theaters of operation. And several books are more recent, but this little book of fewer than two hundred pages is a gem. Written in clear prose and incorporating biographies of important individuals, key documents, and a glossary, it is tailor-made for students and general readers, and its price is modest. 

By Helen Nicholson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In addition to a clear, engaging survey of the Christian crusades to the Holy Lands, this book offers an overview of the many contemporary campaigns against non-Christians throughout Europe and the Middle East. Seventeen biographical sketches of key figures and a dozen primary texts in translation are included, as are six maps and an annotated bibliography and chronology.


Book cover of Crusading Warfare, 1097–1193

John D. Hosler Author Of The Siege of Acre, 1189-1191: Saladin, Richard the Lionheart, and the Battle That Decided the Third Crusade

From my list on crusading warfare.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m just a guy who once obsessed over Forgotten Realms novels as a kid and, now, teaches history to military officers at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In between, I got married, earned a PhD at the University of Delaware, and spent 12 years teaching in Baltimore. I’m very interested in cross-cultural warfare—as the crusades are a window into not only western and eastern warfare but also facets of cultural, literary, political, religious, and social history, studying them is endlessly fascinating and infinitely rewarding. My next book, Jerusalem Falls: Seven Centuries of War and Peace, continues my interest in the subject.

John's book list on crusading warfare

John D. Hosler Why did John love this book?

A classic. Originally published in 1956, it was one of the first retorts to the dominant strain of military history that emphasized decisive battle, as seen through the eyes of 19th-century theory. Instead, Smail advances the notion—now widely held—that medieval warfare deemphasized risky battles and instead utilized a range of effective operational approaches (raiding, ravaging, sieging, and skirmishing) in a coherent, positional fashion. Similarly in opposition to older approaches, Smail examines not only western warfare through the activities of crusader and crusader-state armies but also how Muslim forces were organized, sustained, and fought. While his sections on military organization, fortifications, and technology have been greatly updated by newer studies, this remains a standard text for anyone interested in the general subject.

By R. C. Smail,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Crusading Warfare, 1097–1193 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a revised edition of R. C. Smail's classic account of the military achievements of the Crusaders in the context of a 'feudal society organized for war'. A new bibliographical introduction and an updated bibliography have been provided by Christopher Marshall, while the original plates section has been replaced by a series of new subjects. In covering the period 1097-1193, this edition also complements Dr Marshall's own Warfare in the Latin East, 1192-1291, also available in a paperback edition.


Book cover of Logistics of Warfare in the Age of the Crusades

John D. Hosler Author Of The Siege of Acre, 1189-1191: Saladin, Richard the Lionheart, and the Battle That Decided the Third Crusade

From my list on crusading warfare.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m just a guy who once obsessed over Forgotten Realms novels as a kid and, now, teaches history to military officers at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In between, I got married, earned a PhD at the University of Delaware, and spent 12 years teaching in Baltimore. I’m very interested in cross-cultural warfare—as the crusades are a window into not only western and eastern warfare but also facets of cultural, literary, political, religious, and social history, studying them is endlessly fascinating and infinitely rewarding. My next book, Jerusalem Falls: Seven Centuries of War and Peace, continues my interest in the subject.

John's book list on crusading warfare

John D. Hosler Why did John love this book?

If, as Napoleon once quipped, an army indeed marches on its stomach, then surely military historians should work from a firm understanding of logistics and sustainment. Conceived during a 2002 workshop on the subject held in Sydney, Australia, this volume includes fourteen substantive chapters authored by some of the foremost historians in the field, as well as one specialist in game theory! The covered subjects are impressive in scope: provisioning, finance, rates of march, supply and resupply, cartography, roads, and communications (for both Christian armies and their Muslim foes), with due attention given not only to land warfare but also naval affairs. Fourteen maps, seven figures, and sixteen data tables complete what is currently the best available book on medieval logistics.

By John H. Pryor (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Logistics of Warfare in the Age of the Crusades as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How were the Crusades made possible? There have been studies of ancient, medieval and early modern warfare, as well as work on the finances and planning of Crusades, but this volume is the first specifically to address the logistics of Crusading. Building on previous work, it brings together experts from the fields of medieval Western, Byzantine and Middle Eastern studies to examine how the marches and voyages were actually made. Questions of manpower, types and means of transportation by land and sea, supplies, financial resources, roads and natural land routes, sea lanes and natural sailing routes - all these topics…


Book cover of The Race for Paradise: An Islamic History of the Crusades

Nick Brodie Author Of 1787: The Lost Chapters of Australia's Beginnings

From my list on changing how you see history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professional history nerd who is perennially interested in both sides of the history coin: What happened? How do we know? I’ve got a PhD in sixteenth-century European history, have written articles that cover things from antiquity to Vikings in America, and have written several history books about Australia and its region. I like history that is robust, so I’m always looking for books that make clever use of sources. And I love stories that disrupt preconceptions, so I enjoy researching and writing and reading histories that make you think.

Nick's book list on changing how you see history

Nick Brodie Why did Nick love this book?

A great insight informs every aspect of this excellent book. While few historians today would put the crusades down to mere fanaticism, too many uninformed people still think of the crusades in absurdly simplistic terms of clashing civilizations, cultures, and religions. This book takes aim at that sort of ignorance by telling the history of one of the world’s great historical phenomena in a very accessible way from the perspective with which most readers will be least familiar.

By Paul M. Cobb,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1099, when the first Frankish invaders arrived before the walls of Jerusalem, they had carved out a Christian European presence in the Islamic world that endured for centuries, bolstered by subsequent waves of new crusaders and pilgrims. The story of how this group of warriors, driven by faith, greed, and wanderlust, created new Christian-ruled states in parts of the Middle East is one of the best-known in history. Yet it is offers not even half of the story, for it is based almost exclusively on Western sources and overlooks entirely the perspective of the crusaded. How did medieval Muslims…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Crusades, the Middle Ages, and Normandy?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Crusades, the Middle Ages, and Normandy.

The Crusades Explore 53 books about the Crusades
The Middle Ages Explore 416 books about the Middle Ages
Normandy Explore 25 books about Normandy