Books are not all the same and the same subject matter can be boring as hell in one book but entertaining and fascinating when told by another writer.
Learning history undoubtedly has multiple benefits that should not be underestimated:
- it will make you more attentive to what is happening around you
- you will be more empathetic towards foreign countries because you will understand that we are all in the same boat
- in every situation you will have anecdotes to tell
- you’ll write great books
- you will be more open-minded
The books for learning history that I will show you in this article are special and do not only refer to dates and wars. The history of a civilisation is certainly not only about that.
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These books will fascinate you and take you with them through the centuries, introducing you to your ancestors in a different light.
Here you go, great books to learn culture through history.
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Books for learning history in unusual ways
Justinian’s Flea: The First Great Plague and the End of the Roman Empire by William Rosen
A story told by many with just a few sentences that are by no means sufficient to explain the terror felt at the time. The bubonic plague, which originated from tiny little animals if, however, they plagued all cities at the time, destroyed empires and brought the whole world to its knees.
At its peak ‘five thousand people died every day in Constantinople’, and this book shows it for real in all its facets.
Off With Her Head: Three Thousand Years of Demonizing Women in Power
We live in a complicated society where people are treated differently according to their appearance and gender. Often until we compare different situations we do not even realise certain differences.
This book will open your eyes a bit to all the sexism in our minds. And it will show you all this with an honest humour that will fascinate you and keep you from turning away from the pages.
Books to learn the history of the human body
Written in Bone: Hidden Stories in What We Leave Behind
An interesting discovery, not everything ends at death, our personal history lives on in our bones.
With humour and sympathy, this book shows us how a body can solve crimes and identify when and where it came from.
A must-have book for the truly curious.
Strange Medicine: A Shocking History of Real Medical Practices Through the Ages
Medicine has not always meant white walls, ironised objects and long queues at the hospital.
Medicine has had to make many missteps to get to where it is now. Over the centuries, many absurd practices have been practised for equally strange diseases.
And this book tells you all about them – the development of medicine around the world through the centuries has never been so interesting.
Books to learn the history of words
I Never Knew There Was a Word for It
Did you know that in Japanese there is a word to describe ‘appreciating the sadness of existence’?
Or that in Hawaiian there is a word to describe someone who returns from fishing without fish?
If you are interested in these things, you cannot find a better book to quench your curiosity.
How You Say It: Why We Judge Others by the Way They Talk―and the Costs of This Hidden Bias
Words tell our story without us even realising it.
The way we speak and express ourselves is part of our identity. Language, dialects and accents are able to divide us and unite us, which makes the mother tongue leave an indelible mark on our future.
Books to learn Mythology in interesting ways
Nordic Tales: Folktales from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark
Mythology is often mixed with history and religion. The various gods and all mythical tales are one of the most interesting parts of a culture, at least according to those who appreciate them. This book (excellent as a gift for a reader) will tell you about Nordic mythology through text and creative images.
If you are interested in such things, you will not be able to resist this masterpiece.
Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology
You certainly already know what this book is about, the title is very clear. Zeus got up to all kinds of mischief in Greek mythology, 95% of the myths would not exist if he had been a faithful husband.
And this book tells you all of them, every strange Greek myth you need to know.
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