The best books for exploring Morocco’s culture

Why am I passionate about this?

On a trip to Morocco, immersed in new sounds, smells, sights, and tastes, I was hit with the idea for a novel about a woman in the 11th century, a time when a Berber ruler took over the whole of North Africa and Spain. It led to many years of research and correspondence with historians, and became not one novel, but four, telling the story of four women’s lives that interweave as a newborn empire rises. The books I have listed here were some of the ones that brought the place, the culture, and the era alive for me. I hope they can do the same for you!


I wrote...

A String of Silver Beads

By Melissa Addey,

Book cover of A String of Silver Beads

What is my book about?

A woman seeking adventure. A bitter rivalry. The birth of an empire.

11th century North Africa. Kella is a Berber girl disguised as a boy, travelling the trade routes. When her identity is revealed, she is sent to the family camp to be taught women’s skills. Bored with her restrictive life, Kella yearns for freedom. When a mighty army sets out on a holy mission, she marries its general, Yusuf, hoping to embark on a great adventure. But while Yusuf conquers North Africa, Kella finds herself a rival to his infamous queen consort, Zaynab. Can Kella protect herself from a powerful and jealous rival? Can she secure a future for her son in this newborn empire? And will she ever find the freedom she craves?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon

Melissa Addey Why did I love this book?

Gorgeous to look at, this recipe book lists food that provides a real feast for the senses, from orange blossom-scented cakes to Morocco’s famous tagines (my favourite is with preserved lemons) and everything in between. When I research for historical fiction, food is one of my first ports of call, and this book brought Morocco alive on my table. Read, cook, eat, and be in bliss!

By Claudia Roden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Arabesque as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon offer some of the world's most exciting cuisines. In this delectable cookbook, the award-winning, bestselling author of The Book of Jewish Cooking and Claudia Roden's Mediterranean translates the subtle play of flavors and cooking techniques to our own home kitchens.

Interweaving history, stories, and her own observations, she gives us 150 of the most delicious recipes: some of them new discoveries, some reworkings of classic dishes—all of them made even more accessible and delicious for today’s home cook.

From Morocco, the most exquisite and refined cuisine of North Africa: couscous dishes; multilayered pies; delicately flavored tagines;…


Book cover of Tuareg Jewelry: Traditional Patterns and Symbols

Melissa Addey Why did I love this book?

A beautiful record of jewelry from Morocco, exploring symbolism, craftsmanship, and culture. The very first novel I wrote was based on the idea of every chapter being a Moroccan woman receiving a piece of jewelry symbolizing a certain moment in her life and this book was my guide, I pored over the lovely photos, marveled at the intricate designs and really enjoyed learning what each piece meant and its history. 

By Helene E Hagan, Lucile Myers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tuareg Jewelry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"For you, it may look like a small unimportant detail, like your thumbnail. But for me, it is the whole vast world. Look at this jewel... here is the ant, here is the hyena, the jackal, the hoof of a horse, that of a gazelle, the sun, the moon, the stars, the good eye... this triangle, this is woman, and here are the eyebrows of the Malignant One, there, laughter... it is all of our lives in one piece of silver." (Translated from the French by Helene E. Hagan, from original Tuareg words of an artisan cited by J. Gabus,…


Book cover of The Berbers: The Peoples of Africa

Melissa Addey Why did I love this book?

Perhaps a more serious book, but the only book to really record and discuss the culture and history of the Berbers (preferred contemporary name, Amazigh) in Morocco. This book and its author were fundamental in my historical research for 11th-century Morocco and was fairly accessible for an academic textbook. Many cultures have their histories ‘lost’ because no one pays enough attention to them and Berber history is worth knowing.

By Michael Brett, Elizabeth Fentress,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Berbers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Berbers is the first attempt by English scholars to provide a comprehensive overview of the history of the Berber-speaking peoples. From the first appearance of humans in the Maghreb, through the rise of the formidable Berber kingdoms of Numidia and Mauretania, the book traces the origins of the distinct characteristics of these disparate peoples, regarded as the indigenous inhabitants of North Africa. In examining, too, the responses to external overlords, whether Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Turks, or, most recently, European imperial powers, the authors indicate the importance for the various Berber communities of such factors as language, tradition, social organization…


Book cover of Amazigh Arts in Morocco: Women Shaping Berber Identity

Melissa Addey Why did I love this book?

A fascinating book about women’s roles in shaping cultural identity in Morocco and within Berber culture, including details on the weaving of textiles, clothing, dance, marriage ceremonies, an alphabet only the women pass on to future generations, and more. Many of these details were important to me in my historical research, but are worth reading by anyone interested in the role of women around the world.  

By Cynthia Becker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Amazigh Arts in Morocco as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In southeastern Morocco, around the oasis of Tafilalet, the Ait Khabbash people weave brightly colored carpets, embroider indigo head coverings, paint their faces with saffron, and wear ornate jewelry. Their extraordinarily detailed arts are rich in cultural symbolism; they are always breathtakingly beautiful-and they are typically made by women. Like other Amazigh (Berber) groups (but in contrast to the Arab societies of North Africa), the Ait Khabbash have entrusted their artistic responsibilities to women. Cynthia Becker spent years in Morocco living among these women and, through family connections and female fellowship, achieved unprecedented access to the artistic rituals of the…


Book cover of Morocco: A Sense of Place

Melissa Addey Why did I love this book?

A deeply visual book, full of intricate details of craftwork and intimate moments of daily life, this is described as an ‘ideal photo album’ of Morocco, and it’s a very enjoyable and beautiful book to explore if you are planning to go to Morocco or longing to return after a trip there. A really lovely way to immerse yourself in Moroccan culture for a little while. 

By Marie Pascale Rauzier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Morocco as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Morocco: A Sense of Place" is one of two titles in a new series of travel books designed to be an innovative mix between travelogue and armchair travel. Aimed at a young or young-at-heart audience, they are presented as ideal photo albums of your last favourite trip the one you wish you'd taken the time to put together, without the hassle of sifting through all your crumpled ticket stubs and badly centred photos of monuments hidden behind the heads of strangers. These highly visual and evocative volumes will be seized on by anyone with a love of travel and photography.


You might also like...

Rip Current

By Sharon Ward,

Book cover of Rip Current

Sharon Ward Author Of In Deep

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Even as a kid, I was intrigued by the underwater world, so as an adult, I learned to scuba dive. I took to it like a fish to water, and my husband and I spent the next several years traveling to tropical islands to experience the local dive conditions whenever possible. I loved learning how every island had a different culture and a different undersea environment. Since I love tropical islands, scuba diving, mysteries, and adventure stories, these books really hit my sweet spot.

Sharon's book list on mysteries set on a tropical island

What is my book about?

Unsettled weather has caused life-threatening rip currents to sprout up seemingly at random in the usually tranquil sea around Grand Cayman. Despite posted warnings to stay out of the surf, several women lose their life when caught in the turbulent waters. Fin attempts some dangerous rescues, and nearly loses her own life in the process.

Meanwhile, Fin and the team at RIO are struggling to find more sources of funding for the Institute’s important research, and danger arises from an unexpected source while Fin and hot movie star Rafe Cummings are filming an upcoming documentary. When a young internet influencer…

Rip Current

By Sharon Ward,

What is this book about?

Unsettled weather has caused life-threatening rip currents to sprout up seemingly at random in the usually tranquil sea around Grand Cayman. Despite posted warnings to stay out of the surf, several women lose their life when caught in the turbulent waters. Fin attempts some dangerous rescues, and nearly loses her own life in the process.
Meanwhile, Fin and the team at RIO are struggling to find more sources of funding for the Institute’s important research, and danger arises from an unexpected source while Fin and hot movie star Rafe Cummings are filming an upcoming documentary.
Soon after a young internet…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Morocco, North Africa, and Spain?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Morocco, North Africa, and Spain.

Morocco Explore 46 books about Morocco
North Africa Explore 24 books about North Africa
Spain Explore 195 books about Spain