The best books about finding peace amid conflict

Who am I?

I tell stories that make issues achingly and inescapably personal. After covering the first Palestinian Uprising for two winters as a correspondent and witnessing firsthand the gamut of senseless tragedies behind the headlines, I realized that hard news could never convey an iota of the deeper story I was gleaning. I turned to fiction writing and won my State's Literary Fellowship in Fiction. I learned that I can find light in the most horrific situations and leave readers with hope. Having earned a Masters degree in Intercultural Studies, I write from a global perspective with the conscious aim of fostering intercultural, interracial, and cross-gender understanding and healing. 


I wrote...

Between Two Deserts

By Germaine Shames,

Book cover of Between Two Deserts

What is my book about?

Jerusalem lies at the end of an old Roman road, a city swathed in light and sorrow. Coming to Jerusalem to fulfill her grandfather’s dying wish, Eve Cavell finds herself poised at the fault line of three worlds—Muslim, Christian, and Jewish. Soon she attracts the attention of Mozes Koenig, an elderly author in search of a heroine. Eve, with her lodestar eyes and solitary dance, captivates the old man’s imagination, and together they create an opus to humanity in a city made of stone. With lyricism and allure, Germaine Shames captures a world of compassion amid chaos and peace within war through her characters’ triumphs and calvary. *Winner of the AZ Literary Fellowship in Fiction.

"Creates the intense atmosphere of an unstable world with grace and a sort of lyric power." NPR

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

Half of a Yellow Sun

By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,

Book cover of Half of a Yellow Sun

Why this book?

In Half of a Yellow Sun, ethnic divides trigger the brutal Nigerian civil war that ravages the lives of two sisters raised in privilege. As they endure loss upon loss, their relationship evolves. When all seems lost, they find peace through forgiveness and refuge in their indestructible love for each other. I greatly admire how the author maintains a sense of intimacy against a backdrop of epic events.

Half of a Yellow Sun

By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Half of a Yellow Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE BAILEYS PRIZE BEST OF THE BEST

Winner of the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction 2007, this is a heartbreaking, exquisitely written literary masterpiece

This highly anticipated novel from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is set in Nigeria during the 1960s, at the time of a vicious civil war in which a million people died and thousands were massacred in cold blood.

The three main characters in the novel are swept up in the violence during these turbulent years. One is a young boy from a poor village who is employed at a university lecturer's house. The other is a…


Small Island

By Andrea Levy,

Book cover of Small Island

Why this book?

There is everything to admire in Small Island, a powerful story of Jamaican immigrants in England striving to remake their lives during and after WWII. Having served in the Royal Air Force, the male protagonist now finds himself relegated to an underclass in a country that no longer needs him. When a white landlady rents a room in her home to the former soldier and his new Jamaican bride, she becomes a neighborhood pariah. The war may be over, but the fear and intolerance that fueled it have come home. Despite all, this mismatched trio maintains their humanity and forges a bond that will shape the rest of their lives.

Small Island

By Andrea Levy,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Small Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hortense shared Gilbert's dream of leaving Jamaica and coming to England to start a better life. But when she at last joins her husband, she is shocked by London's shabbiness and horrified at the way the English live. Even Gilbert is not the man she thought he was. Queenie's neighbours do not approve of her choice of tenants, and neither would her husband, were he there. Through the stories of these people, Small Island explores a point in England's past when the country began to change.


S.: A Novel about the Balkans

By Slavenka Drakulić,

Book cover of S.: A Novel about the Balkans

Why this book?

This shatteringly raw novel about the Bosnian War relates the story of one woman imprisoned, raped (both physically and emotionally), and left pregnant with the enemy’s child. Like this author, Slavenka Draculić began her inquiry into the war as a journalist, but decided that the story would be best told through fiction. Some of the most unforgettable novels are the ones that are hardest to read. S. demands much of the reader, but gives back a hundredfold with its message of healing and transcendence. 

S.: A Novel about the Balkans

By Slavenka Drakulić,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"S. may very well be one of the strongest books about war you will ever read. . . The writing is taut, precise, and masterful." -The Philadelphia Enquirer

Set in 1992, during the height of the Bosnian war, S. reveals one of the most horrifying aspects of any war: the rape and torture of civilian women by occupying forces. S. is the story of a Bosnian woman in exile who has just given birth to an unwanted child-one without a country, a name, a father, or a language. Its birth only reminds her of an even more grueling experience: being…


The Septembers of Shiraz: A Novel

By Dalia Sofer,

Book cover of The Septembers of Shiraz: A Novel

Why this book?

Revolutionary Iran was the wrong place to be Jewish and wealthy. Septembers of Shiraz paints a poignant portrait of a family targeted, plundered, and driven to the brink of ruin by a corrupt extremist regime. The beauty of the story is that the more these protagonists lose, the more they realize how little their possessions and status actually matter. Their true wealth resides in their love for one another and the hope of a brighter tomorrow. 

The Septembers of Shiraz: A Novel

By Dalia Sofer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As Isaac navigates the tedium and terrors of prison, forging tenuous trusts, his wife feverishly searches for him, suspecting, all the while, that their once-trusted housekeeper has turned on them and is now acting as an informer. And as his daughter, in a childlike attempt to stop the wave of baseless arrests, engages in illicit activities, his son, sent to New York before the rise of the Ayatollahs, struggles to find happiness even as he realizes that his family may soon be forced to embark on a journey of incalculable danger.


Doctor Zhivago

By Boris Pasternak, Richard Pevear (translator), Larissa Volokhonsky

Book cover of Doctor Zhivago

Why this book?

A classic among classics, Doctor Zhivago sweeps across forty years of Russian history with epic grandeur. Rich in wisdom about dreams, impermanence, shifting loyalties, and above all, love,  the novel tells the story of an aristocrat from a ruined family muddling through a succession of doomed regimes, improvising a new life in each, only to see the people and places that he loves torn away in the endless chaos. To his last breath, the novel’s protagonist lives in hope, hatching plans for a glorious future that he will not live to see. I first read Doctor Zhivago as a pre-teen. The extent to which Pasternak’s novel influenced my worldview and prepared me to thrive in flux and uncertainty cannot be overstated.

Doctor Zhivago

By Boris Pasternak, Richard Pevear (translator), Larissa Volokhonsky

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Doctor Zhivago as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in Italy in 1957 amid international controversy, Doctor Zhivago is the story of the life and loves of a poet/physician during the turmoil of the Russian Revolution. Taking his family from Moscow to what he hopes will be shelter in the Ural Mountains, Zhivago finds himself instead embroiled in the battle between the Whites and the Reds. Set against this backdrop of cruelty and strife is Zhivago's love for the tender and beautiful Lara, the very embodiment of the pain and chaos of those cataclysmic times. Pevear and Volokhonsky masterfully restore the spirit of Pasternak's original—his style, rhythms,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Nigeria, romantic love, and prisoners?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Nigeria, romantic love, and prisoners.

Nigeria Explore 35 books about Nigeria
Romantic Love Explore 510 books about romantic love
Prisoners Explore 69 books about prisoners

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Cold Mountain, Educated, and Wizard of the Crow if you like this list.