100 books like Desert Flower

By Waris Dirie, Cathleen Miller,

Here are 100 books that Desert Flower fans have personally recommended if you like Desert Flower. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Small Island

Eleanor Shearer Author Of River Sing Me Home

From my list on history in all its strange and unsettling glory.

Why am I passionate about this?

Long before I fell in love with History as an academic subject, I fell in love with stories. And as the granddaughter of Caribbean immigrants, true stories of my grandparents’ early lives could transport me to another place as vividly as fiction. So although I have studied History to Master’s level, where I specialized in the legacy of slavery, it is always to fiction that I turn to breathe life into the past. My favourite books are those that are unsettling in the unfamiliarity of the world they create, and yet deeply moving because, at heart, the characters are motivated by timeless and human things like grief, ambition, or love. 

Eleanor's book list on history in all its strange and unsettling glory

Eleanor Shearer Why did Eleanor love this book?

This novel is about the experience of the Windrush generation – the Caribbean people who moved to Britain after the Second World War.

Andrea Levy so perfectly captures the experiences of these people that I feel like I can see my own grandparents on the page.

But what I love most about this book is that it sees itself as telling a part of British history – showing how the Caribbean and Britain were connected, but also exploring with equal empathy the experiences of white British characters during and after the War.

As someone mixed race, it is so rare to find books that speak to both sides of my heritage, and this is one of them. 

By Andrea Levy,

Why should I read it?

8 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.


Book cover of When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa

Martin Fletcher Author Of Promised Land: A Novel of Israel

From my list on the refugee experience.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my work as a news reporter and war correspondent, I met people on the worst day of their lives. I always wondered: What now? How will they get on with life? My own parents faced that dreadful dilemma. Penniless refugees, their families murdered in the Holocaust, unemployed in London, how on earth did they find the strength to carry on? One day at a time, they just did what they had to do. That is the subject of my fiction, always trying to answer that existential question: How do we live with trauma, and still find love and happiness?

Martin's book list on the refugee experience

Martin Fletcher Why did Martin love this book?

A beautifully intertwined story of the decline of a man and the parallel decline of a nation, Zimbabwe, which pivots into an entirely new story: the author’s dying Christian British father was actually a Polish Jew, born Kazimierz Goldfarb, whose family was killed in Treblinka concentration camp.

Godwin’s story is ultimately inspiring and uplifting as he comes to terms with his family’s past while building his own future in his new country.

By Peter Godwin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When a Crocodile Eats the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Peter Godwin, an award-winning writer, is on assignment in Zululand when he is summoned by his mother to Zimbabwe, his birthplace. His father is seriously ill; she fears he is dying. Godwin finds his country, once a post-colonial success story, descending into a vortex of violence and racial hatred.

His father recovers, but over the next few years Godwin travels regularly between his family life in Manhattan and the increasing chaos of Zimbabwe, with its rampant inflation and land seizures making famine a very real prospect. It is against this backdrop that Godwin discovers a fifty-year-old family secret, one which…


Book cover of Last Waltz in Vienna

Martin Fletcher Author Of Promised Land: A Novel of Israel

From my list on the refugee experience.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my work as a news reporter and war correspondent, I met people on the worst day of their lives. I always wondered: What now? How will they get on with life? My own parents faced that dreadful dilemma. Penniless refugees, their families murdered in the Holocaust, unemployed in London, how on earth did they find the strength to carry on? One day at a time, they just did what they had to do. That is the subject of my fiction, always trying to answer that existential question: How do we live with trauma, and still find love and happiness?

Martin's book list on the refugee experience

Martin Fletcher Why did Martin love this book?

A sensitive yet relentless story of his family’s failed assimilation that ends in its annihilation. Clare ends up in the UK, seeking meaning, in vain. His story so closely mirrors the real-life story of my own family, also Jewish refugees from Vienna who found refuge in the UK, that it sent a chill down my spine. Beautifully written and evocative. Clare concludes with Voltaire’s verdict: “History never repeats itself, man always does.”

By George Clare,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Last Waltz in Vienna as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On Saturday 26 February, 1938, seventeen-year-old Georg Klaar took his girlfriend Lisl to his first ball at the Konzerthaus. His family were proudly Austrian. They were also Jewish. Just two weeks later came the Anschluss. A family had been condemned to death by genocide.

This new edition of George Clare's incredibly affecting account of Nazi brutality towards the Jews includes a previously unpublished post-war letter from his Uncle to a friend who had escaped to Scotland. This moving epistle passes on the news of those who had survived and the many who had been arrested, deported, murdered or left to…


Book cover of Swedish Tango: A Novel

Martin Fletcher Author Of Promised Land: A Novel of Israel

From my list on the refugee experience.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my work as a news reporter and war correspondent, I met people on the worst day of their lives. I always wondered: What now? How will they get on with life? My own parents faced that dreadful dilemma. Penniless refugees, their families murdered in the Holocaust, unemployed in London, how on earth did they find the strength to carry on? One day at a time, they just did what they had to do. That is the subject of my fiction, always trying to answer that existential question: How do we live with trauma, and still find love and happiness?

Martin's book list on the refugee experience

Martin Fletcher Why did Martin love this book?

The former movie star “was now in a country where no one even knew his name.” The cry of every refugee, the eerie sense of being transparent, dispensable, irrelevant emerges powerfully from Alyson Richman’s intricately plotted and touching narrative: a fictional tale of World War Two refugees from Finland and France and asylum-seekers from Pinochet’s Chile whose new lives cross in Sweden.

By Alyson Richman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Octavio Ribeiro is a rising movie star in Chile when, at the request of famed poet Pablo Neruda, he agrees to serve as a media trainer in the presidential campaign of Salvador Allende. This involvement exposes Octavio and his family -- especially his wife, Salomé -- to the ruthless kidnapping and terror tactics of Allende's political rival, General Augusto Pinochet...until they escape to political exile in Sweden, where another couple -- Samuel and Kaija Rudin -- are also living as expatriates.

Dr. Rudin is a psychiatrist specializing in treating people who, like Salomé, have been traumatized by the events of…


Book cover of Black Hawk Down: The History of the Battle of Mogadishu

Jaime Salazar Author Of Mutiny of Rage: The 1917 Camp Logan Riots and Buffalo Soldiers in Houston

From my list on military books that you can't put down.

Why am I passionate about this?

I served for some time in the elite forces and have always had a fascination with military history, especially when it comes in the form of a memoir or autobiography. I’m equally compelled by eloquently written prose by many of the gifted journalists and reporters who have illuminated the struggles, valor, and glory of the fighting man since the days of Tsu.

Jaime's book list on military books that you can't put down

Jaime Salazar Why did Jaime love this book?

Black Hawk Down documents efforts by America’s Unified Task Force to capture Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid in 1993, and the resulting fight in Mogadishu between U.S. forces and his militia. Dramatically, graphically reconstructing the battle, author Mark Bowden leaves nothing about combat to the imagination. He describes Mogadishu as a place of Mad Max-like anarchy to describe the warring with great accuracy. Thinking there must have been some official inquiry into the tragedy that killed 18 American fighters and upwards of 500 Somalis, Bowden discovered none was undertaken, and so this account was conceived. It is a horribly enthralling bullet-by-bullet story, in which the purpose of Americans in Somalia fades to irrelevance amidst the instant desperation of fighting. In the ensuing day-and night-long snafu, men bled to death, rescue convoys drove in wrong directions, and choppers were shot down. His narrative tells of how Rangers and elite Delta Force…

By Charles River Editors,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*Includes pictures *Includes an explanation of the action, what went wrong, and an analysis of who was to blame *Includes online resources, footnotes, and a bibliography for further reading *Includes a table of contents “The Somalis were a curious bunch. For every armed person, there were fifty unarmed just standing around, often right next to the guy firing at us.” – Michael Goffena, a Black Hawk pilot If it was the dawn of a new world order in the 1990s, it was one of American unilateralism. Throughout the decade, America’s unrivaled power and the globalization of the world through technology…


Book cover of Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War

Tim Pritchard Author Of Ambush Alley: The Most Extraordinary Battle of the Iraq War

From my list on battles that go wrong.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 2003 I was travelling through Baghdad with US forces to report on the Iraq war. Suddenly an ear-shattering explosion cracked through our Humvee and a rush of hot debris swept past my face. The heavily armoured door warped inwards, and the vehicle lifted off the ground. Soldiers were screaming in terror and anger, clutching at bloody faces, arms, and legs. We’d been attacked by unknown members of the Iraqi resistance. The sheer terror of that moment gave me a new understanding of war  the sight, smells, sounds, and touch of combat – and a desire to tell the stories of the young soldiers who get caught up in it.  

Tim's book list on battles that go wrong

Tim Pritchard Why did Tim love this book?

It was this book that inspired me to write my book. It’s a powerful and gut-wrenching description of soldiers being lost in the fog of war when a military operation goes wrong and exposes the limits of what sophisticated hardware and weapon technology can do to save the day.  

By Mark Bowden,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Recounts a 1993 firefight in Mogadishu, Somalia, that resulted in the deaths of eighteen Americans and more than five hundred Somalis, examining the rationales behind the disastrous raid.


Book cover of The Invention of Somalia

Mohamed Haji Ingiriis Author Of The Suicidal State in Somalia: The Rise and Fall of the Siad Barre Regime, 1969-1991

From my list on contemporary Africa and late colonialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Somali scholar in the field of Somali Studies and African Studies, specialising in anthropology, history, and the politics of Somali society and state(s). I am recognised as an authority and expert on the historical and contemporary Somali conflicts in the Diaspora and back home. I am a Research Fellow at the Conflict Research Programme at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where I am tasked to study the political economy of Mogadishu. I am also a visiting professor at the African Leadership Centre, King’s College London, where I deliver lectures about the genesis of the Cold War in the Horn of Africa and the Civil War in Somalia. 

Mohamed's book list on contemporary Africa and late colonialism

Mohamed Haji Ingiriis Why did Mohamed love this book?

This groundbreaking and pioneering book was the best book ever written on Somalia. It was indeed an eye-opener for me during my early years of academia. It dramatically changed how I would think of Somali studies. I still recall vividly to this day how I became enchanted with how authors, most of whom were Somalis, had critically challenged previous anthropological and historical scholarship on Somalia, pompously written at the time by Eurocentrists. As soon as I finished reading the book, I began to follow in the footsteps of scholars like Professor Ali Jimale Ahmed.

Book cover of Seven Days In May

Bob Reiss Author Of The Last Spy

From my list on thrillers that affected the real world.

Why am I passionate about this?

This will sound corny but if writers aren’t dreamers, who is? As a journalist, I got to cover real events, but I was also concerned about what could happen. But how do you write about something you fear will happen, but hasn’t happened yet? How to drive across future consequences when you are limited by that moment’s reality? A journalist will quote leaders, or reports, and hope that does the trick. A novelist can bring characters to life who will one day have to live with a tragedy and their own choices. My short story collection Still Hungry will be published in January 2023.

Bob's book list on thrillers that affected the real world

Bob Reiss Why did Bob love this book?

Like most readers, I’m scared these days about the future of our democracy. As a reporter I’ve covered trouble spots; like Somalia – where no law existed - and Sudan, where I was in a crowd fleeing at the mere sight of an airplane, fearing bombs. One of my friends lost his wife in a Washington car bombing. Others escaped danger during a Chilean coup. Seven Days in May imagined an attempted coup in the US, and although the setting was decades ago, some forces at play are the same, since human motivation never changes. This book sobered up the nation back then by reminding readers what happens when some of us....any of us...think they know better than everyone else and believe force is the way to go. We could use that reminder now.

By Fletcher Knebel, Charles W. Bailey II,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Seven Days In May as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Vintage hardcover


Book cover of Struggle for Land in Southern Somalia: The War Behind the War

Mohamed Haji Ingiriis Author Of The Suicidal State in Somalia: The Rise and Fall of the Siad Barre Regime, 1969-1991

From my list on contemporary Africa and late colonialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Somali scholar in the field of Somali Studies and African Studies, specialising in anthropology, history, and the politics of Somali society and state(s). I am recognised as an authority and expert on the historical and contemporary Somali conflicts in the Diaspora and back home. I am a Research Fellow at the Conflict Research Programme at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where I am tasked to study the political economy of Mogadishu. I am also a visiting professor at the African Leadership Centre, King’s College London, where I deliver lectures about the genesis of the Cold War in the Horn of Africa and the Civil War in Somalia. 

Mohamed's book list on contemporary Africa and late colonialism

Mohamed Haji Ingiriis Why did Mohamed love this book?

I read this original and outstanding book long before I decided to join academia. It was almost a year before I embarked on my undergrad years. It was a memorable time of my life, as an exile in a small town, a suburban of Brussels, Belgium, to grasp the real causes of the state failure in Somalia. The authors brilliantly presented painful empirical research findings on land grabbing they had collected a few years before the collapse of the military regime in Somalia in 1991 which navigated a new route in research findings on the post-state collapse in Somalia that allowed me to look differently at the Somali conflict.

By Catherine Besteman (editor), Catherine Besteman (editor), Lee V. Cassanelli (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Struggle for Land in Southern Somalia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Despite massive international intervention, Somalia remains a land violently divided by class and cultural conflicts. Explanations for the civil war have generally focused on personalities, clan affiliations or Cold War competition, but this study examines issues of land and resources as important ingredients in Somali politics, and in the events that precipitated the civil war. Drawing on evidence of disputes over land rights and natural resources over several decades, the book aims to add a new dimension to the understanding of factional politics and ethnic/regional rivalries in Somalia.


Book cover of A House in the Sky

Susan Pohlman Author Of Halfway to Each Other: How a Year in Italy Brought Our Family Home

From my list on travel memoir for women on women (and men) who travel.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by the transformational power of travel ever since my husband and I unexpectedly signed a lease to an apartment on the Italian Riviera instead of divorce papers. The power of that year abroad saved our marriage, united our family of four in a sacred way, and introduced us to the many cultures of Europe. I learned the crucial difference between taking a trip and embarking on a journey. Capturing a travel experience on the page for those who can’t journey to a destination themselves is a joy and a privilege I don’t take lightly. Publishing this memoir allowed me to pivot in my career to a full-time writer and writing coach/editor.

Susan's book list on travel memoir for women on women (and men) who travel

Susan Pohlman Why did Susan love this book?

There have been only a handful of books that I have been unable to put down.

This memoir is one of them. In 2008, Amanda Lindhout began her career as a reporter by traveling to Somalia. On her fourth day, she and another journalist were abducted and held for ransom.

She recounts her harrowing experience in captivity (460 days) in vivid, and heart-wrenching detail. When she is most desperate, she travels in her mind to A House in the Sky enabling her to block out her dire circumstances and let in a ray of hope.

This is a true story you will never forget.

By Amanda Lindhout, Sara Corbett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A House in the Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BREAKING NEWS: Amanda Lindhout’s lead kidnapper, Ali Omar Ader, has been caught.

Amanda Lindhout wrote about her fifteen month abduction in Somalia in A House in the Sky. It is the New York Times bestselling memoir of a woman whose curiosity led her to the world’s most remote places and then into captivity: “Exquisitely told…A young woman’s harrowing coming-of-age story and an extraordinary narrative of forgiveness and spiritual triumph” (The New York Times Book Review).

As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of National Geographic and imagining herself visiting its exotic locales. At the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Somalia, social reformers, and women's rights?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Somalia, social reformers, and women's rights.

Somalia Explore 13 books about Somalia
Social Reformers Explore 36 books about social reformers
Women's Rights Explore 63 books about women's rights