100 books like Vermeer's Hat

By Timothy Brook,

Here are 100 books that Vermeer's Hat fans have personally recommended if you like Vermeer's Hat. 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 The Death of Woman Wang

Henrietta Harrison Author Of The Perils of Interpreting: The Extraordinary Lives of Two Translators between Qing China and the British Empire

From my list on Qing Dynasty China from an Oxford historian.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian of modern China in the department of Chinese at the University of Oxford. I started off working on the twentieth century but have been drawn back into the Qing dynasty. It’s such an interesting and important period and one that British students often don’t know much about! 

Henrietta's book list on Qing Dynasty China from an Oxford historian

Henrietta Harrison Why did Henrietta love this book?

This short classic was one of the first books I read when I began studying China, and that drew me into the subject of rural life.

The story of the death of Woman Wang (nothing more is known of her name) is gripping and tragic, and it is beautifully written.

By Jonathan D. Spence,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Spence shows himself at once historian, detective, and artist. . . . He makes history howl." (The New Republic)

Award-winning author Jonathan D. Spence paints a vivid picture of an obscure place and time: provincial China in the seventeenth century. Life in the northeastern county of T'an-ch'eng emerges here as an endless cycle of floods, plagues, crop failures, banditry, and heavy taxation. Against this turbulent background a tenacious tax collector, an irascible farmer, and an unhappy wife act out a poignant drama at whose climax the wife, having run away from her husband, returns to him, only to die at…


Book cover of The English Atlantic in an Age of Revolution, 1640-1661

Geoffrey Parker Author Of Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century

From my list on the 17th Century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I teach history at The Ohio State University. This project began when I listened in 1976 to a radio broadcast in which Jack Eddy, a solar physicist, speculated that a notable absence of sunspots in the period 1645-1715 contributed to the “Little Ice Age”: the longest and most severe episode of global cooling recorded in the last 12,000 years. The Little Ice Age coincided with a wave of wars and revolution around the Northern Hemisphere, from the overthrow of the Ming dynasty in China to the beheading of Charles I in England. I spent the next 35 years exploring how the connections between natural and human events created a fatal synergy that produced human mortality on a scale seldom seen before – and never since.

Geoffrey's book list on the 17th Century

Geoffrey Parker Why did Geoffrey love this book?

Between 1640 and 1660, England, Scotland, and Ireland experienced civil war, invasion, religious radicalism, parliamentary rule, and the restoration of the monarchy. None of that will surprise historians of Britain, but they may not realize the impact of these events on Britain’s new colonies across the Atlantic. Some of them remained loyal to the king until his victorious opponents sent the first major Transatlantic expeditionary force to subdue them. 

Pestana shows how war and rebellion in Britain increased both the proportion of unfree labourers and ethnic diversity in the colonies. Neglected by London, several of them developed trade networks; some entered the slave trade. By 1660, the English Atlantic had become religiously polarized, economically interconnected, socially exploitative, and ideologically unstable.

By Carla Gardina Pestana,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The English Atlantic in an Age of Revolution, 1640-1661 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Between 1640 and 1660, England, Scotland, and Ireland faced civil war, invasion, religious radicalism, parliamentary rule, and the restoration of the monarchy. Carla Gardina Pestana offers a sweeping history that systematically connects these cataclysmic events and the development of the infant plantations from Newfoundland to Surinam.

By 1660, the English Atlantic emerged as religiously polarized, economically interconnected, socially exploitative, and ideologically anxious about its liberties. War increased both the proportion of unfree laborers and ethnic diversity in the settlements. Neglected by London, the colonies quickly developed trade networks, especially from seafaring New England, and entered the slave trade. Barbadian planters…


Book cover of The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age

Geoffrey Parker Author Of Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century

From my list on the 17th Century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I teach history at The Ohio State University. This project began when I listened in 1976 to a radio broadcast in which Jack Eddy, a solar physicist, speculated that a notable absence of sunspots in the period 1645-1715 contributed to the “Little Ice Age”: the longest and most severe episode of global cooling recorded in the last 12,000 years. The Little Ice Age coincided with a wave of wars and revolution around the Northern Hemisphere, from the overthrow of the Ming dynasty in China to the beheading of Charles I in England. I spent the next 35 years exploring how the connections between natural and human events created a fatal synergy that produced human mortality on a scale seldom seen before – and never since.

Geoffrey's book list on the 17th Century

Geoffrey Parker Why did Geoffrey love this book?

I first met Simon Schama in 1963, when he joined me as an undergraduate reading History at Christ’s College Cambridge. Both of us decided to undertake research on the Low Countries, but in an international context: in my case, Spain and the Netherlands between 1550 and 1650; in Simon’s case, France and the Netherlands between 1770 and 1815, leading to his brilliant first book, Patriots and Liberators (a study of what the expansion of Revolutionary France meant for an occupied country.) This led him to analyse the social and cultural history of the country before occupation, using visual as well as written sources to recreate the mental state of a complex society. The embarrassment of Riches tells of bloody uprisings and beached whales, of the cult of hygiene and the plague of tobacco, of thrifty housewives and profligate tulip-speculators. It shows how the Dutch celebrated themselves and how they were…

By Simon Schama,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the book that made Simon Schama's reputation when first published in 1987. A historical masterpiece, it is an epic account of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age of Rembrandt and van Diemen.

In this brilliant work that moves far beyond the conventions of social or cultural history, Simon Schama investigates the astonishing case of a people's self-invention.

He shows how, in the 17th-century, a modest assortment of farming, fishing and shipping communities, without a shared language, religion or government, transformed themselves into a formidable world empire - the Dutch republic.


Book cover of The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner

Geoffrey Parker Author Of Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century

From my list on the 17th Century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I teach history at The Ohio State University. This project began when I listened in 1976 to a radio broadcast in which Jack Eddy, a solar physicist, speculated that a notable absence of sunspots in the period 1645-1715 contributed to the “Little Ice Age”: the longest and most severe episode of global cooling recorded in the last 12,000 years. The Little Ice Age coincided with a wave of wars and revolution around the Northern Hemisphere, from the overthrow of the Ming dynasty in China to the beheading of Charles I in England. I spent the next 35 years exploring how the connections between natural and human events created a fatal synergy that produced human mortality on a scale seldom seen before – and never since.

Geoffrey's book list on the 17th Century

Geoffrey Parker Why did Geoffrey love this book?

Good historical novels concentrate on gaps in the historical record, and use fiction to fill them – and in doing so, they illuminate the facts. Robinson Crusoe, the first historical novel in English (some claim the first English novel), used the story of a fictional sailor who left home in 1651 and returned in 1687 to show how the mental world in which his character grew up, riven by confessional conflict and civil war, differed from the mental world of his readers, in which colonies and capitalism had combined to produce great wealth. 

Among more recent works of fiction set in the 17th century, I particularly enjoyed Günther Grass, The meeting at Telgte (1981), set in Germany in 1647; and Iain Pears An instance of the fingerpost (1997), set in Oxford in 1663. Both include real historical figures.

By Daniel Defoe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a reproduction of a classic text optimised for kindle devices. We have endeavoured to create this version as close to the original artefact as possible. Although occasionally there may be certain imperfections with these old texts, we believe they deserve to be made available for future generations to enjoy.


Book cover of What We Owe the Future

Benjamin Todd Author Of 80,000 Hours: Find a Fulfilling Career That Does Good

From my list on how to have a positive social impact with careers.

Why are we passionate about this?

We’re a nonprofit that aims to help people have a positive social impact with their careers. Since you have, on average, 80,000 hours in your career, what you decide to do with that time might be your biggest opportunity to make a difference. Over the past ten years, we’ve conducted careful research into high-impact careers, and have helped thousands of people plan a career that has a high positive impact. 

Benjamin's book list on how to have a positive social impact with careers

Benjamin Todd Why did Benjamin love this book?

Future generations might be very much impacted by the actions we take today: with climate change, nuclear war, or the changes in global values. But we often don’t take their interests into account. 

In this book, Will argues that positively influencing the fate of future generations is a key moral priority of our time and that there are things we can do today to make them better off. This may be one of the most important books of our time.

By William MacAskill,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked What We Owe the Future as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Instant New York Times Bestseller

“This book will change your sense of how grand the sweep of human history could be, where you fit into it, and how much you could do to change it for the better. It's as simple, and as ambitious, as that.”
—Ezra Klein

An Oxford philosopher makes the case for “longtermism” — that positively influencing the long-term future is a key moral priority of our time.

The fate of the world is in our hands. Humanity’s written history spans only five thousand years. Our yet-unwritten future could last for millions more — or it could…


Book cover of The Scottish World: A Journey Into the Scottish Diaspora

Claire R. McDougall Author Of Veil of Time

From my list on to lose yourself in the dream that is Scotland.

Why am I passionate about this?

There is a saying that you can take the girl out of Scotland but not Scotland out of the girl. I am that girl. Born and raised in Scotland, I earned an MA from Edinburgh University and a M.Litt from Oxford. I met my husband during the summer at  Dartmouth College and the rest, as they say, is history. Or, at least it would be, except for the hankering back to Scotland that never leaves. My novel set in Scotland was published by Simon & Schuster.

Claire's book list on to lose yourself in the dream that is Scotland

Claire R. McDougall Why did Claire love this book?

I value this book because, since joining the United Kingdom in 1707, much of Scottish history has been disregarded. Even though I studied history in my Scottish school to a high level, the details of our past were replaced with English history. Well-known radio personality, Billy Kay, brings together a wealth of information about Scotland’s outside influence through the ages. Scotland was one of the first countries to see the benefit of an educated working class, and in the countries to which they emigrated, their learning stood them in good stead. Scottish culture, over hundreds of years before it was incorporated into the United Kingdom, had well-established cultural centers throughout Europe and even as far as Russia.

By Billy Kay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Thaim wi a guid Scots tongue in their heid are fit tae gang ower the warld'

In The Scottish World, renowned broadcaster Billy Kay takes us on a global journey of discovery, highlighting the extraordinary influence the Scots have had on communities and cultures on almost every continent.

While others have questioned the self-confidence of the Scots, Kay has travelled the world from Bangkok to Brazil, Warsaw to Waikiki and found ringing endorsements for the integrity and intellect, the poetry and passion of the Scottish people in every country he has visited.

He expands people's view of Scotland by relating…


Book cover of Civilization Critical: Energy, Food, Nature, and the Future

Sandy Graham Author Of You Speak For Me Now

From my list on to influence human society.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over the past decade, I’ve become very concerned with the direction authoritarianism is taking human society. It’s a global problem that now infects America, leaving us with a partisan divide we may not be able to bridge. My recommended books helped me understand the situation and how one might speak out against this negative force effectively. Convinced that bombarding readers with facts alone is useless, I chose to provide a novel that is interesting and captivates readers. My goal is to entice readers to press on to the end regardless of their political persuasion, in hopes that along the way some thought will be devoted to the issues raised.

Sandy's book list on to influence human society

Sandy Graham Why did Sandy love this book?

Despite the Covid pandemic, the two biggest threats to human society are political strife and degradation of its food supply through climate change and population explosion. Darren Qualman provides an easily understood discussion of the latter. He starts with the simple closed-loop plant/animal cycle powered by the sun’s energy, which existed up until about 300 years ago. Then, explains how the discovery of coal and oil, invention of the tractor, and development of a process to convert oil into fertilizer changed all that.

As a teenager, I was taught that the population explosion would cause mass starvation in the near future. Darren explains how force-feeding plants and domesticated animals, now using over 400 million tons of oil-based fertilizer each year, forestalled that. But combined with oil, gas, and coal burned today, human society is living with a time-bomb unless we learn to live with energy now available from the sun.

By Darrin Qualman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The modern world is wondrous. Its factories produce ten thousand cars every hour and ten trillion transistors every second. We carry supercomputers in our pockets, and nearly a million people are in the air at any time. In Civilization Critical, Darrin Qualman takes readers on a tour of the wonders of the 21st century.
But the great strength of our modern word is also its great weakness. Our immense powers to turn resources and nature into products and waste imperil our future. And plans to double and redouble the size of the global economy veto sustainability.
So, is our civilization…


Book cover of K-punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher from 2004 - 2016

Nick Prior Author Of Popular Music, Digital Technology and Society

From my list on popular music, technology, and society.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Professor of Cultural Sociology at Edinburgh, UK, and have written extensively on contemporary culture and particularly technological mediations of popular music. I have undertaken empirical research on cultures of popular music in places like Iceland, Japan, and the UK, and I have supervised around 25 doctoral students to successful completion. My work is widely cited in the field of cultural sociology, and I am regularly interviewed by national broadcasters and the press. I’m also an amateur musician, making homespun electronic music in my bedroom and releasing it under the monikers Sponge Monkeys and Triviax.

Nick's book list on popular music, technology, and society

Nick Prior Why did Nick love this book?

This is a collection of essays by Fisher that originally comprised his K-Punk blog and that I return to again and again.

Fisher has a unique voice, a kind of critical conscience for the times that navigates the complexities of what he called "capitalist realism" through the lens of popular culture. These essays are the reason I got into bands on the Ghost Box label, like Pye Corner Audio, The Advisory Circle, and Belbury Poly. They speak to a loss of promised futures in a political context that has increasingly emptied out hope.

I find Fisher’s diagnosis of the culture of late capitalism to be the most compelling out there. His critique of “retro” bands like The Arctic Monkeys is scathing, while his writings on “hauntological” culture are ground-breaking. I’m a big fan of Burial, and Fisher’s reflections on the post-rave come-down are spot on.

Be warned: the collection can…

By Mark Fisher, Darren Ambrose (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Edited by Darren Ambrose and with a foreword by Simon Reynolds, this comprehensive collection brings together the work of acclaimed blogger, writer, political activist and lecturer Mark Fisher (aka k-punk). Covering the period 2004 - 2016, the collection will include some of the best writings from his seminal blog k-punk; a selection of his brilliantly insightful film, television and music reviews; his key writings on politics, activism, precarity, hauntology, mental health and popular modernism for numerous websites and magazines; his final unfinished introduction to his planned work on "Acid Communism"; and a number of important interviews from the last decade.


Book cover of One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society

Todd McGowan Author Of Capitalism and Desire: The Psychic Cost of Free Markets

From my list on psychoanalysis and capitalism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent a great deal of time exploring how psychoanalytic theory might be the basis for a critique of capitalism. I had always heard the Marxist analysis of capitalist society, but what interested me was how psychoanalytic theory might offer a different line of thought about how capitalism works. The impulse that drives people to accumulate beyond what is enough for them always confused me since I was a small child. It seems to me that psychoanalytic theory gives us the tools to understand this strange phenomenon that somehow appears completely normal to us. 

Todd's book list on psychoanalysis and capitalism

Todd McGowan Why did Todd love this book?

This is the one classic text on my list. Marcuse’s book was like a bible to protesting students in the 1960s, and its critique of the psychic levelling that occurs under capitalism remains just as germane today, if not more so. This is the most successful marriage of Freud and Marx that emerged from the famous Frankfurt School, which was a group of cultural Marxist invested in psychoanalysis. Marcuse grasps how capitalism employs technology to ensure its psychic dominance. 

By Herbert Marcuse,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked One-Dimensional Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1964, One-Dimensional Man quickly became one of the most important texts in the ensuing decade of radical political change. This second edition, newly introduced by Marcuse scholar Douglas Kellner, presents Marcuse's best-selling work to another generation of readers in the context of contemporary events.


Book cover of The Shortcut: Why Intelligent Machines Do Not Think Like Us

Simon J.D. Prince Author Of Understanding Deep Learning

From my list on machine learning and deep neural networks.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started my career in neuroscience. I wanted to understand brains. That is still proving difficult, and somewhere along the way, I realized my real motivation was to build things, and I wound up working in AI. I love the elegance of mathematical models of the world. Even the simplest machine learning model has complex implications, and exploring them is a joy.

Simon's book list on machine learning and deep neural networks

Simon J.D. Prince Why did Simon love this book?

This is a popular science book, so a little different from the others on this list. It is a beautifully written book that is accessible to people who don’t know much about AI but is simultaneously thought-provoking for experts.

It contains probably the best discussion of "intelligence" that I've read, interesting insights into how Google and other tech giants came to develop their machine learning strategy, and a fascinating chapter that views recommendation engines and their users as parts of a single intelligent organism. It's concise and easy to read.

I've read many popular AI books, which are highly variable in quality, and this criminally underappreciated work is the best by miles. 

By Nello Cristianini,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

- The author is one of the most influential AI reseachers of recent decades.

- Written in an accessible language, the book provides a probing account of AI today and proposes a new narrative to connect and make sense of events that happened in the recent tumultuous past and enable us to think soberly about the road ahead.

- The book is divided into ten carefully crafted and easily-digestible chapters, each grapples with an important question for AI, ranging from the scientific concepts that underpin the technology to wider implications for society, using real examples wherever possible.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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