Experts > Ruth Harris

Ruth Harris's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Ruth Harris recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Ruth Harris's favorite book recommendations of all time.


The Unknown Matisse, 1869-1908

Henri Matisse is one of the masters of twentieth-century art and a household word to millions of people who find joy and meaning in his light-filled, colorful images--yet, despite all the books devoted to his work, the man himself has remained a mystery. Now, in the hands of the superb biographer Hilary Spurling, the unknown Matisse becomes visible at last.

Matisse was born into a family of shopkeepers in 1869, in a gloomy textile town in the north of France. His environment was brightened only by the sumptuous fabrics produced by the local weavers--magnificent brocades and silks...
Recommended by Ruth Harris, and 1 others.

Ruth HarrisI think this is an extraordinary biography – the story of a late bloomer whose career only really takes off when he’s 35. It interests me as a professional historian because it puts its finger on the cross-currents of culture in this period. As I mentioned earlier, on the one hand we see in France the continued preoccupation with the old regime, which was so evident in the massive acclaim for a... (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...


Stone's Fall

At his London home, John Stone falls out of a window to his death. A financier and arms dealer, Stone was a man so wealthy that he was able to manipulate markets, industries, and indeed entire countries and continents. Did he jump, was he pushed, or was it merely a tragic accident? His alluring and enigmatic widow hires a young crime reporter to investigate. The story moves backward in time—from London in 1909 to Paris in 1890 and finally to Venice in 1867—and the attempts to uncover the truth play out against the backdrop of the evolution of high-stakes international finance, Europe’s first... more
Recommended by Ruth Harris, and 1 others.

Ruth HarrisI’m going to confess right away that this is a novel written by my husband. The reason I chose it is that I know it so well and that he would be the first to say that much of it was taken from ideas that I have been thinking about for the last 25 years, and which he had rendered in fictional form. (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...

In September 1894 the French authorities intercepted a letter which they claimed emanated from a Jewish army captain, Alfred Dreyfus, which they claimed to be proof of espionage on behalf of Germany. Dreyfus was subsequently court-martialed and imprisoned on Devil's Island, and the efforts of his family to have him released provoked an anti-Semitic controversy that split the French intellectual world down the center. Most famous among the participants was France's greatest living novelist, Emile Zola. This book is the first to provide, in English translation, the full extent of Zola's... more
Recommended by Ruth Harris, and 1 others.

Ruth HarrisJ’Accuse is an open letter he wrote in 1898 in the newspaper L’Aurore and is an extraordinary polemic. He deployed all his literary talent in its writing (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...


Cyrano de Bergerac

This acclaimed adaptation for the stage has garnered such reviews as: "Emotional depth Rostand himself would surely have envied...Burgess' extravagant verse keeps its contours, yet trips off the tongue almost as though it were contemporary speech." -London Times. Performance rights available from Applause. less

Ruth HarrisIt is set in the 17th century. Cyrano de Bergerac is the play’s hero, a cadet – a nobleman serving as a solider in the French army – and he’s deformed, with a nose so enormous that people come from far and wide to view his “protuberance”. He falls madly in love with his cousin Roxane, who is witty and leaned, but because of what he believes to be his outward ugliness he cannot proclaim his love... (Source)

Jenny DavidsonThe love story that is told in Cyrano, with its bittersweet, heartbreaking ending, is one of the most powerful I’ve ever encountered. (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...


The Guns of August

"More dramatic than fiction...THE GUNS OF AUGUST is a magnificent narrative--beautifully organized, elegantly phrased, skillfully paced and sustained....The product of painstaking and sophisticated research."
Historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Barbara Tuchman has brought to life again the people and events that led up to Worl War I. With attention to fascinating detail, and an intense knowledge of her subject and its characters, Ms. Tuchman reveals, for the first time, just how the war started, why, and why it could have been stopped but wasn't. A classic...

Doris Kearns GoodwinSo beautifully written. But more importantly, for me, she was writing about battles and military stuff and things that you don’t imagine that sometimes a woman might be so adept at. (Source)

Ruth HarrisThis is a very strange book for me to choose. For many people, it is the ultimate old-fashioned diplomatic history. But it enthuses me for several reasons. First of all, it’s an extraordinary narrative. It reads magnificently and is a breathtaking horizon of events and people. Secondly, like me, she is obsessed with people. In the first chapter we have the funeral of Edward VII in 1910, which is... (Source)

Matt CalkinsThe best way to understand how the world resolves its conflicts and its tensions is by looking at how a conflict that has been studied thoroughly, like World War I, unfolded and resolved. Business is like this too. If anyone were to ever get to the heart of Coke vs. Pepsi, they would see a parade of mistakes in the same way World War I looks in retrospect—so many ways you could have done better. (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...

Don't have time to read Ruth Harris's favorite books? Read Shortform summaries.

Shortform summaries help you learn 10x faster by:

  • Being comprehensive: you learn the most important points in the book
  • Cutting out the fluff: you focus your time on what's important to know
  • Interactive exercises: apply the book's ideas to your own life with our educators' guidance.