100 books like Censoring an Iranian Love Story

By Shahriar Mandanipour, Sara Khalili,

Here are 100 books that Censoring an Iranian Love Story fans have personally recommended if you like Censoring an Iranian Love Story. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran

Eric Lob Author Of Iran's Reconstruction Jihad: Rural Development and Regime Consolidation after 1979

From my list on Iranian history, politics, and culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of politics and international relations with a focus on Iran. My passion for the country started while studying Persian or Farsi with an exceptional professor in graduate school. During that time, I had the privilege of traveling to Iran three times to study the language and conduct research on rural politics. This period coincided with the Green Movement uprising, a pivotal moment in the country. Since then, I have been enthralled by Iranian history, politics, and culture. Their richness and complexity make it a subject that can be studied and appreciated for a lifetime.              

Eric's book list on Iranian history, politics, and culture

Eric Lob Why did Eric love this book?

Straddling the boundaries between academic history and historical non-fiction, this book is difficult, if not impossible, to put down and draws the reader into the rich and multifaceted world of Iran’s history, politics, culture, and religion. The book is narrated through the life and lens of an ayatollah who is caught between tradition and modernity, religiosity and secularism, and east and west, much like Iran itself. Seamlessly weaving the past and present, the book reveals the inherent complexities and contradictions of Iranian identity that have been superimposed on a state and society torn between notions and aspirations of divine and popular sovereignty.       

By Roy Mottahedeh,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Mantle of the Prophet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Drawn from the first-hand accounts of eyewitnesses, Roy Mottahedeh's account of Islam and politics in revolutionary Iran is widely regarded as one the best records ofd that turbulent time ever written. The true story of a young mullah, hi life in the sacred shrine city of Qom, and the dramatic events of the 1979 Revolution, this account paints a vivid picture of contemporary Iran, while providing a panoramic survey of Muslim, Shi'ite and Persian culture from the middle ages to the present day. From the ancient time of Zoroaster to the world of Khomeini, this saga interweaves biography with history,…


Book cover of A History of Iran: Empire of the Mind

Richard Foltz Author Of Iran in World History

From my list on Iranian history and culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Richard Foltz is a cultural historian specializing in the broader Iranian world. He holds a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern History from Harvard University and has published eleven books and over one hundred articles on topics ranging from animal rights to Zoroastrianism. He is currently Professor in the Department of Religions and Cultures at Concordia University in Montréal, Canada.

Richard's book list on Iranian history and culture

Richard Foltz Why did Richard love this book?

An engagingly written, fair and balanced history for readers interested in more detail and analysis than is found in my own slim introductory volume. In my view the single best scholarly history of Iran ever written.

By Michael Axworthy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Iran is a land of contradictions. It is an Islamic republic, but one in which only 1.4 percent of the population attend Friday prayers. Iran's religious culture encompasses the most censorious and dogmatic Shi'a Muslim clerics in the world, yet its poetry insistently dwells on the joys of life: wine, beauty, sex. Iranian women are subject to one of the most restrictive dress codes in the Islamic world, but make up nearly 60 percent of the student population of the nation's universities. In A History of Iran, acclaimed historian Michael Axworthy chronicles the rich history of this complex nation from…


Book cover of The Blind Owl

Em Strang Author Of Quinn

From my list on short reads that dare to offer something deep.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a poet and creative mentor, and it’s the intensity of poetic language – its expansiveness and limitations – that shows up in my fiction and in the novels I love. Quinn is an exploration of male violence, incarceration, and radical forgiveness. I’ve spent a decade working with long-term prisoners in Scotland, trying to understand and come to terms with notions of justice and responsibility: does guilt begin and end with the perpetrator of a violent act or are we all in some way culpable? How can literary form dig into this question aslant? Can the unsettled mind be a space for innovative thinking?

Em's book list on short reads that dare to offer something deep

Em Strang Why did Em love this book?

Hedayat (1903-1951) was an Iranian writer who knew that death and the mythic experience of Kairos time exists a hair’s breadth away from what we commonly experience as human life.

The Blind Owl was the book that gave me permission to write fiction: instead of writing a novel in standard form, I wanted to create a liminal space, a threshold world between real and unreal; to invite readers into an unfamiliar (and hopefully transformative) vision of humanity.

This is exactly what Hedayat does in The Blind Owl: we are immersed in a fable of otherworldly, repetitive, poetic, dark, and mesmerising power. The story (of jealousy, despair, the cyclical nature of life and death) has a rare depth and a sense of universal reach precisely because it has one foot in the liminal.

By Sadegh Hedayat, Naveed Noori (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Blind Owl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Widely regarded as Sadegh Hedayat's masterpiece, the Blind Owl is the most important work of literature to come out of Iran in the past century. On the surface this work seems to be a tale of doomed love, but with the turning of each page basic facts become obscure and the reader soon realizes this book is much more than a love story. Although the Blind Owl has been compared to the works of the Kafka, Rilke and Poe, this work defies categorization. Lescot's French translation made the Blind Owl world-famous, while D.P. Costello's English translation made it largely accessible.…


Book cover of Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings

Olivia Milburn Author Of Kingdoms in Peril, Volume 1: The Curse of the Bao Lords

From my list on epic historical narratives from around the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a translator specializing in Chinese historical novels, and also an academic researching marginalized groups in Chinese history—ethnic minorities, the disabled, people with mental health issues, and so on. The treatment of marginalized people tells you a lot about what is going on within mainstream society. I’ve always been interested in stories about people from distant times and places, and I have a particular love of long sagas, something that you can really get your teeth into. Kingdoms in Peril covers five hundred years of history: I translated this for my own enjoyment and was surprised when I realized that I’d managed to write 850,000 words for fun!

Olivia's book list on epic historical narratives from around the world

Olivia Milburn Why did Olivia love this book?

Shahnameh is the story of the birth of the Iranian people, told in a series of wonderful stories.

In the beginning, in a time of myth and legend, the Persian kings fight the devil, and sometimes they win and sometimes they are tempted into sin. Here are great heroes like the paladin Rostam, wicked queens like the young and beautiful Sudabeh, endlessly scheming against her husband’s son and heir, and the evil serpent-king himself, Zahhak.

These are the legends that have shaped Iranian culture for more than a thousand years, given definitive form in Ferdowsi’s epic tale.

By Abolqasem Ferdowsi, Dick Davis (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Shahnameh as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dick Davis, "our pre-eminent translator from the Persian" (Washington Post) has revised and expanded his highly-praised translation of Ferdowsi's masterpiece, including more than 100 pages of newly translated text. Davis's elegant combination of prose and verse allows the poetry of the Shanameh to sing its own tales directly, interspersed sparingly with clearly-marked explanations to ease along modern readers. Among the greatest works of world literature, this prodigious narrative, composed by the poet Ferdowsi in the late tenth century, tells the story of pre-Islamic Iran, beginning in the mythic time of creation and continuing forward to the Arab invasion in the…


Book cover of The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran

Dora Levy Mossanen Author Of Harem

From my list on Persian history and its people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Israel, but spent my formative years in Iran, a country rich in culture, superstition, and a history that is nothing short of an author’s dream. I also joined a large, colorful family, whose members possessed their own quirks and habits, which my future fictional characters inherited in one or another of my novels. Although the Iran I knew during the reign of the Shah was quite different than the Iran I had to flee at the onset of the Islamic revolution and the arrival of Ayatollah Khomeini, her history remains ever timely, and never ceases to captivate me.

Dora's book list on Persian history and its people

Dora Levy Mossanen Why did Dora love this book?

The grandson of an eminent ayatollah and the son of an Iranian diplomat, Hooman Majd offers perspective on Iran's complex and misunderstood culture through an insightful tour of Iranian culture, introducing fascinating characters from all walks of life, including zealous government officials, tough female cab drivers, and open-minded, reformist ayatollahs. It's an Iran that will surprise readers and challenge Western stereotypes.

By Hooman Majd,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hooman Majd, acclaimed journalist and New York-residing grandson of an Ayatollah, has a unique perspective on his Iranian homeland. In this vivid, warm and humorous insider's account, he opens our eyes to an Iran that few people see, meeting opium-smoking clerics, women cab drivers and sartorially challenged presidential officials, among others.

Revealing a country where both t-shirt wearing teenagers and religious martyrs express pride in their Persian origins, that is deeply religious yet highly cosmopolitan, authoritarian yet reformist, this is the one book you should read to understand Iran and Iranians today.


Book cover of The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran

Eric Lob Author Of Iran's Reconstruction Jihad: Rural Development and Regime Consolidation after 1979

From my list on Iranian history, politics, and culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of politics and international relations with a focus on Iran. My passion for the country started while studying Persian or Farsi with an exceptional professor in graduate school. During that time, I had the privilege of traveling to Iran three times to study the language and conduct research on rural politics. This period coincided with the Green Movement uprising, a pivotal moment in the country. Since then, I have been enthralled by Iranian history, politics, and culture. Their richness and complexity make it a subject that can be studied and appreciated for a lifetime.              

Eric's book list on Iranian history, politics, and culture

Eric Lob Why did Eric love this book?

Importantly, this book reminds the reader that the Iranian Revolution and others are rare and unpredictable events in human history that breed chaos and uncertainty. The book systematically and convincingly debunks the conventional explanations for the revolution related to static structures and processes in the government, military, economy, society, and culture. Instead, the book argues that what ultimately turned the tide of the revolution was the agency of activists who purposively created and exploited these structures and processes, translated initial fear into intensified outrage, drew power in numbers, and became convinced that success in the form of regime change was possible.       

By Charles Kurzman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, would remain on the throne for the foreseeable future: This was the firm conclusion of a top-secret CIA analysis issued in October 1978. One hundred days later the shah--despite his massive military, fearsome security police, and superpower support was overthrown by a popular and largely peaceful revolution. But the CIA was not alone in its myopia, as Charles Kurzman reveals in this penetrating work; Iranians themselves, except for a tiny minority, considered a revolution inconceivable until it actually occurred. Revisiting the circumstances surrounding the fall of the shah, Kurzman offers rare insight into…


Book cover of Comprehensive History of the Jews of Iran: The Outset of the Diaspora

Dora Levy Mossanen Author Of Love and War in the Jewish Quarter

From my list on captivating World War II love stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a novelist, whose Persian family is comprised of a colorful cast of characters, who supply me with invaluable fodder for my historical novels. Years ago, my grandfather, Dr. Habib Levy, recounted how, when he was the dentist of Reza Shah Pahlavi, the King of Iran, the king commanded him to convert to Islam. Aware he might be uttering his last words, my grandfather had replied, Your Majesty, a man who turns his back to his faith is a traitor, and his Majesty will not want a traitor for a dentist. Now, after decades, this long past scene became the inspiration for my fifth historical novel, Love and War in the Jewish Quarter.

Dora's book list on captivating World War II love stories

Dora Levy Mossanen Why did Dora love this book?

Dr. Habib Levy, the author of this book, is my grandfather, who spent half a century researching and writing the first comprehensive source on the history of the Jews of Iran. 

I have often referred to this wealth of information for my historical novels. But never has it been a more important source and inspiration than for my most recent novel.

By Habib Levy, Hooshang Ebrami, George W. Maschke (translator)

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Comprehensive History of the Jews of Iran as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Comprehensive History of the Jews of Iran: The Outset of the Diaspora


Book cover of A Companion to the Achaemenid Persian Empire

John O. Hyland Author Of Persian Interventions: The Achaemenid Empire, Athens, and Sparta, 450−386 BCE

From my list on Achaemenid Persia and its Greek neighbors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated with ancient history since childhood, but really fell in love with the Achaemenids in college while taking classes on Greek history and wondering about the other side’s perspective on familiar stories of the Persian Wars. I was fortunate to get the opportunity to study both Greek and Persian history in graduate school at the University of Chicago, a leading center of scholarship on the Achaemenid world since the Persepolis excavations in the 1930s. Since 2006, I’ve taught in the History department at Christopher Newport University, a liberal arts university in Newport News, Virginia. I’m currently working on my next book, a new history of Persia’s Greek campaigns. 

John's book list on Achaemenid Persia and its Greek neighbors

John O. Hyland Why did John love this book?

This monumental two-volume collection, published in 2021, contains 110 accessible essays by some of the most prominent scholars of Achaemenid Persian history. It introduces the ancient evidence, including written sources, artistic materials, and archaeological remains, for every major region from the Indus to the Nile and the Aegean, and ably surveys the disciplinary history of the modern study of ancient Iran.  Thematic chapters trace numerous aspects of Persia’s imperial world, including geography, languages, gender, religion, court dynamics, administration, communications, war, diplomacy, economics, art, science, and many more. The narrative chapters place the empire’s rise and fall, including but hardly limited to the Persian-Greek wars, into a longer context of Ancient Near Eastern empire formation, setting up valuable insights through comparison with Assyria, Babylonia, and other predecessors. 

By Bruno Jacobs (editor), Robert Rollinger (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Companion to the Achaemenid Persian Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A COMPANION TO THE ACHAEMENID PERSIAN EMPIRE

A comprehensive review of the political, cultural, social, economic and religious history of the Achaemenid Empirem

Often called the first world empire, the Achaemenid Empire is rooted in older Near Eastern traditions. A Companion to the Achaemenid Persian Empire offers a perspective in which the history of the empire is embedded in the preceding and subsequent epochs. In this way, the traditions that shaped the Achaemenid Empire become as visible as the powerful impact it had on further historical development. But the work does not only break new ground in this respect, but…


Book cover of The Colonel

Eric Lob Author Of Iran's Reconstruction Jihad: Rural Development and Regime Consolidation after 1979

From my list on Iranian history, politics, and culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of politics and international relations with a focus on Iran. My passion for the country started while studying Persian or Farsi with an exceptional professor in graduate school. During that time, I had the privilege of traveling to Iran three times to study the language and conduct research on rural politics. This period coincided with the Green Movement uprising, a pivotal moment in the country. Since then, I have been enthralled by Iranian history, politics, and culture. Their richness and complexity make it a subject that can be studied and appreciated for a lifetime.              

Eric's book list on Iranian history, politics, and culture

Eric Lob Why did Eric love this book?

This novel was banned in Iran and published outside of it by a renowned Iranian author who grew up in a village and moved to Tehran, where he became a prominent writer and political prisoner. It lends a surreal and personal perspective to the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War – the two most dramatic and formative events in the Islamic Republic’s forty-year existence. It tells the haunting and heart-wrenching story of an unnamed and disgraced former army colonel, who futilely tries to keep his mind intact and his family together during this tumultuous period. The novel poignantly demonstrates how the revolution and war tore individuals and their loved ones apart to the point of madness and death. It is a microcosm of the deep-seated dissonance and disillusionment that Iranians have experienced over aspirational nationalism and piety, on one side, and endemic fragmentation and repression, on the other. A difficult…

By Mahmoud Dowlatabadi, Tom Patterdale (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2013 Jan Michalski Prize
Longlististed for the Man Asian Literary Prize

A new novel by the master of Iranian letters that directly engages politics in Iran today
 
Ten years in the writing, this fearless novel—so powerful it’s banned in Iran—tells the stirring story of a tortured people forced to live under successive oppressive regimes.
 
It begins on a pitch black, rainy night, when there’s a knock on the Colonel’s door. Two policemen have come to summon him to collect the tortured body of his youngest daughter. The Islamic Revolution is devouring its own children. Set over the…


Book cover of Iran Between Two Revolutions

Eric Lob Author Of Iran's Reconstruction Jihad: Rural Development and Regime Consolidation after 1979

From my list on Iranian history, politics, and culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of politics and international relations with a focus on Iran. My passion for the country started while studying Persian or Farsi with an exceptional professor in graduate school. During that time, I had the privilege of traveling to Iran three times to study the language and conduct research on rural politics. This period coincided with the Green Movement uprising, a pivotal moment in the country. Since then, I have been enthralled by Iranian history, politics, and culture. Their richness and complexity make it a subject that can be studied and appreciated for a lifetime.              

Eric's book list on Iranian history, politics, and culture

Eric Lob Why did Eric love this book?

This book is written by one of the leading historians and commentators on Iran. As the title suggests, the book offers an in-depth and nuanced analysis of the myriad sociopolitical forces and changes in Iran between its Constitutional Revolution (1905-09) and Islamic Revolution (1977-79). Of particular emphasis is the evolution and fate of monarchists, constitutionalists, leftists, nationalists, and Islamists. At times, the book tempts the reader to adopt a teleological perspective and contemplate missed opportunities during critical junctures or inflection points that could have put the country on a more participatory and progressive path.     

By Ervand Abrahamian,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Iran Between Two Revolutions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Emphasizing the interaction between political organizations and social forces, Ervand Abrahamian discusses Iranian society and politics during the period between the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1909 and the Islamic Revolution of 1977-1979. Presented here is a study of the emergence of horizontal divisions, or socio-economic classes, in a country with strong vertical divisions based on ethnicity, religious ideology, and regional particularism. Professor Abrahamian focuses on the class and ethnic roots of the major radical movements in the modem era, particularly the constitutional movement of the 1900s, the communist Tudeh party of the 1940s, the nationalist struggle of the early 1950s, and…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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