5 Middle East books to read this Christmas

The holidays are upon us again! As we take time to relax at home with our loved ones, there’s no better time to read – so we thought we’d share a few of our current favourite Middle East-focused books to inspire your Christmas reading list. Grab a gingerbread latte or a mulled wine and enjoy!

1. The Monk of Mokha – Dave Eggers

The Monk of Mokha tells the true story of Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a Yemeni American raised in San Francisco who dreams of bringing back to life the ancient art of Yemeni coffee, but ends up trapped in the midst of civil war in Sana’a. It’s a gripping story of migration, conflict and identity that brings the headlines we read about Yemen to life.

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2. Palace Walk – Naguib Mahfouz

This work of fiction by Arabic author Naguib Mahfouz paints a unique picture of Cairo around the time of World War II. The first in Mahfouz’s Cairo trilogy, Palace Walk follows the lives of one family as they navigate a complex, conservative society and deal with love, loss, heartbreak and the impact of war on their city.

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3. Freedom is an Inside Job – Zainab Salbi

Okay, we recommended this last year and wrote a full blog post about Zainab – but it is just SO GOOD we just had to recommend it again. Freedom is an Inside Job tells the story of the daughter of Saddam Hussein’s personal pilot, who left Iraq as a young woman, set up Women for Women International and went on to become one of the most inspiring and influential individuals of our time. The book teaches us how to own our stories, build meaningful connections and heal the world.

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4. Yemen: Dancing on the Heads of Snakes – Victoria Clark

This is the book you should read before all others if you’re trying to understand what’s going on in Yemen! Although it was written in 2010, Clark’s book provides a crucial overview of the historical, political and societal factors that paved the way for the current conflict. The title of the book is how former President Ali Abdullah Saleh once described ruling the country (the snakes he was referring to were the various political, regional and tribal interest groups vying for power in the Middle East’s most troubled country).

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5. The Education of an Idealist – Samantha Power

I’m currently listening to the audiobook version of this book and can’t help but be moved and inspired by Sam Power’s story. The book is an autobiographical account of her upbringing in Ireland, migration to the USA and her fascinating career as a war correspondent covering the conflict in Bosnia and as US Ambassador to the United Nations. Although not strictly about the Middle East, Power offers exclusive insights into the Obama administration’s controversial policy in Syria.

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We hope you enjoy a cosy Christmas with your loved ones – with plenty of good food and good books!

 

If you enjoyed this, you might also like:

Pink Jinn’s Middle East & North Africa-inspired Christmas List

Freedom is an Inside Job: Iraq activist Zainab Salbi on how to heal the world

Pink Jinn: Books

 

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