November's free eBook from the U of Chicago Press is
How to Do It: Guides to Good Living for Renaissance Italians
by Rudolph M. Bell
The book can be obtained by following this link
to the press' web site, providing an email address, and downloading via Adobe Digital Editions. As with most of their titles, this one is a (DRMed) PDF.
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.