The Middle Age was a period of devotion and we find that most books of the period were of liturgical inspiration. There was also a parallel development of profane literature and studies : tales of chivalry, copies of antique texts and study books. The aristocracy and universities commissioned these works.
The Bible : one of the most voluminous works by its number of pages and sheer physical size was often read aloud in monasteries.
Psalm-books : liturgical books grouping together psalms for the celebration of religious services. We often find a calendar for various activities over the twelve months of the year, astrological signs and a list of the saints. They often were used for reading instruction : King Louis IX of France learnt to read with the psalm-book of his father, Saint-Louis.
Book of Hours : a book of prayers to be said at the eight canonical hours intended for a lay person's private devotion. Works of small size easily carried and luxuriously illustrated by the most famous artists of the time. These books were so precious that only privileged princes and noblemen could acquire them.
The apocalypse : the book of revelation recounting the visions of Saint-Jean.
Graduals and antiphonies : these are songbooks used during religious services, often-large volumes for choirs.
Life stories of saints : a presentation of miracles and martyrs. The saints represented with their symbolic attributes were the objects of profane veneration.
Chronicles : noblemen aspired to relate their line of descendants to heroic events, real and imaginary history marvelously intertwined.
Classic texts : the classics were copied and illustrated a fashion being at its zenith in the Renaissance. Ovide, Horace, Virgile were read equally by laymen and ecclesiastics.
Bestiaries : containing descriptions and tales of animals or fabulous creatures : the satyr, unicorn and dragon are frequent and represent good and evil in Christianity.
Herbals : scientific or medical books. The later works presented advice on the cultivation and harvest of medicinal plants, making them the first ethno-botanical works.
Literature : the reading aloud of stories like "King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table" gave huge pleasure. A rich iconography permitted one to follow the story and intrigue for those who were unable to read. Profane texts were the most popular at that time.
Textbooks : little decorated and in small format, they treated theology, grammar, astronomy…and were for the use of students. Their development is related to the expansion of universities in the 12th century.