How to Do It: Guides to Good Living for Renaissance Italians (
$20 $5.70 Kindle), by Rudolph M. Bell, is this month’s free book from The University of Chicago Press (and also marked down considerably on Kindle).
How to Do It shows us sixteenth-century Italy from an entirely new perspective: through manuals which were staples in the households of middlebrow Italians merely trying to lead better lives. Addressing challenges such as how to conceive a boy, the manuals offered suggestions such as tying a tourniquet around your husband’s left testicle. Or should you want to goad female desires, throw 90 grubs in a liter of olive oil, let steep in the sun for a week and apply liberally on the male anatomy. Bell’s journey through booklets long dismissed by scholars as being of little literary value gives us a refreshing and surprisingly fun social history.
Sign up for the free book from the University of Chicago. You’ll need to enter your email address, then check your email for the link to download the book. Mine arrived within seconds — you get a .ACSM file, which, when opened, will load the PDF book inside of Adobe ADE. This is a DRM’d PDF and is not compatible with Kindle.