Jordan's choice of books relate closely to his research on how medieval economies, and how individuals and societies are impacted by cataclysmic change.
"The book that got me interested in medieval economic history is ‘Standards of Living in the Later Middle Ages', by Christopher Dyer. I think it’s the first book that exposed me to real people. You read about the middle ages and it’s usually kings and queens and knights. I was interested in what real people were doing and how they were surviving and many of these fundamental economic history questions. This book lays it out simply for all sectors of the society from the nobility right down to the humblest peasants and it really made the Middle Ages come alive in a compelling way for me.
A book I wish I had written or that took me to the next step in my career was ‘Horses, oxen and technological innovation, the use of draft animals in English farming 1066-1500' by John Langdon. You already need a PhD to unpack that title. It’s a very specialist study that looked at the introduction of horses and what they contributed to the medieval economy. What it does is take a very narrow subject and links it up to the most macro-level concerns about how a pre industrial economy could develop. It was really interesting that you could get from a very narrow subject – the switch from oxen to horses - into a broader understanding of a whole economy. So that’s the book I probably wish I’d written. I’m writing my own book on horses now so hopefully mine will come close!