50 books like Ethiopia

By Yohanis Gebreyesus,

Here are 50 books that Ethiopia fans have personally recommended if you like Ethiopia. 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 Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies

Felicia Campbell Author Of The Food of Oman: Recipes and Stories from the Gateway to Arabia

From my list on best international cookbooks for both culture and food.

Why am I passionate about this?

Felicia Campbell is a food writer, editor, and author of The Food of Oman: Stories and Recipes from the Gateway to Arabia, the first English-language cookbook on Omani cuisine. She earned her masters degree in culinary anthropology from New York University with a specialization in Middle Eastern foodways. She has lectured on Omani food and food in zones of conflict at the Smithsonian Institute, Leiden University, New York University, and Arizona State University. She is currently developing a documentary series about endangered cuisines around the world. 

Felicia's book list on best international cookbooks for both culture and food

Felicia Campbell Why did Felicia love this book?

Over the last four years, I have been cooking my way through my mother-in-law’s canon of Persian dishes, from ghormeh sabzi herb and braised meat stew to countless pots of the crispy-bottomed saffron rice called tadiq. When a family recipe is lacking in key details (like measurements or timing), I always refer to Najmieh Batmanglij’s book, which is considered the bible of Iranian cooking. Her recipes offer elevated versions of all the classics, along with a number of more obscure regional specialties, and explanations of Iranian traditions and customs. If you are only going to have one Persian cookbook on your shelf, this should be it.

By Najmieh Batmanglij,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Completely redesigned for today's generation of cooks and food enthusiasts, the 25th Anniversary Edition of Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies by Najmieh Batmanglij provides a treasure trove of recipes, along with an immersive cultural experience for those seeking to understand this ancient and timeless cuisine. This edition is a more user-friendly edition of the award-winning and critically acclaimed cookbook series which began in 1986. Food of Life provides 330 classical and regional Iranian recipes as well as an introduction to Persian art, history, and culture. The book's hundreds of full color photographs are intertwined…


Book cover of Delights from the Garden of Eden: A Cookbook and History of the Iraqi Cuisine

Felicia Campbell Author Of The Food of Oman: Recipes and Stories from the Gateway to Arabia

From my list on best international cookbooks for both culture and food.

Why am I passionate about this?

Felicia Campbell is a food writer, editor, and author of The Food of Oman: Stories and Recipes from the Gateway to Arabia, the first English-language cookbook on Omani cuisine. She earned her masters degree in culinary anthropology from New York University with a specialization in Middle Eastern foodways. She has lectured on Omani food and food in zones of conflict at the Smithsonian Institute, Leiden University, New York University, and Arizona State University. She is currently developing a documentary series about endangered cuisines around the world. 

Felicia's book list on best international cookbooks for both culture and food

Felicia Campbell Why did Felicia love this book?

When I want a truly traditional recipe for an Iraqi dish, or any classic Middle Eastern food, I reach for Nawal Nasrallah’s tome. As a culinary historian, she spares no detail when describing the origins of the food of her homeland, and interspersed with recipes are folkloric tales, cultural tidbits, and bite-sized histories. What you come away with is a deep appreciation of the complex, ancient culinary traditions of the fertile crescent, as well as recipes for the best falafels you’ve ever made (spoiler: use both fava beans and chickpeas for heartier flavor).

By Nawal Nasrallah,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Delights from the Garden of Eden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a concise version of the award-winning and highly acclaimed second edition published in 2013. It is luxuriously illustrated throughout with colour photos, paintings, medieval miniatures and sketches and displays the diversity of the region's traditional culinary practices, delicious and enduring. This edition book contains 300 of the original 400 recipes, all tested and easy to follow, and covers all food categories with ample choice for both vegetarians and meat lovers, and many that will satisfy a sweet tooth. Ingredients and cooking techniques indigenous to the region are fully explained.

Unlike the majority of cookbooks, the book uniquely traces…


Book cover of Bangkok: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Thailand

Felicia Campbell Author Of The Food of Oman: Recipes and Stories from the Gateway to Arabia

From my list on best international cookbooks for both culture and food.

Why am I passionate about this?

Felicia Campbell is a food writer, editor, and author of The Food of Oman: Stories and Recipes from the Gateway to Arabia, the first English-language cookbook on Omani cuisine. She earned her masters degree in culinary anthropology from New York University with a specialization in Middle Eastern foodways. She has lectured on Omani food and food in zones of conflict at the Smithsonian Institute, Leiden University, New York University, and Arizona State University. She is currently developing a documentary series about endangered cuisines around the world. 

Felicia's book list on best international cookbooks for both culture and food

Felicia Campbell Why did Felicia love this book?

Leela Punyaratabandhu doesn’t dumb things down in her cookbook, which is an ode to the city of her birth. Hers are Bangkok-style Thai dishes as they are cooked in Thailand. Through it we learn not only how to caramelize beef using jaggery (an unprocessed sugar), but also how to pair it with deeply savory and spicy dishes for a meal that harmonizes contrasting flavors and textures. The suggested meals in her book require cooking sets of dishes, often four or more. While not the makings of an easy weeknight dinner, if you follow her instructions, the results are truly transportive.

By Leela Punyaratabandhu,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From one of the most respected authorities on Thai cooking comes this beautiful and deeply personal ode to Bangkok, the top-ranked travel destination in the world.

WINNER OF THE ART OF EATING PRIZE

Every year, more than 16 million visitors flock to Thailand’s capital city, and leave transfixed by the vibrant culture and unforgettable food they encounter along the way. Thai cuisine is more popular today than ever, yet there is no book that chronicles the real food that Thai people eat every day—until now.

In Bangkok, award-winning author Leela Punyaratabandhu offers 120 recipes that capture the true spirit of…


Book cover of Kachka: A Return to Russian Cooking

Felicia Campbell Author Of The Food of Oman: Recipes and Stories from the Gateway to Arabia

From my list on best international cookbooks for both culture and food.

Why am I passionate about this?

Felicia Campbell is a food writer, editor, and author of The Food of Oman: Stories and Recipes from the Gateway to Arabia, the first English-language cookbook on Omani cuisine. She earned her masters degree in culinary anthropology from New York University with a specialization in Middle Eastern foodways. She has lectured on Omani food and food in zones of conflict at the Smithsonian Institute, Leiden University, New York University, and Arizona State University. She is currently developing a documentary series about endangered cuisines around the world. 

Felicia's book list on best international cookbooks for both culture and food

Felicia Campbell Why did Felicia love this book?

Want a visual primer to all things Russian from the items found at the cured meat and fish counter to helpful phrases when grocery shopping? How about recipes for infused vodkas ranging from tarragon to cranberry and an entire chapter devoted to dishes wrapped in dough? Kachka is a cookbook that will not only teach you to cook Russian food, it will teach you how to eat, drink, and entertain like a Russian in a way that’s quirky, highly visual, and as fun as it is authoritative.

By Bonnie Frumkin Morales, Deena Prichep,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Celebrated Portland chef Bonnie Frumkin Morales brings her acclaimed Portland restaurant Kachka into your home kitchen with a debut cookbook enlivening Russian cuisine with an emphasis on vibrant, locally sourced ingredients.

"With Kachka, Bonnie Morales has done something amazing: thoroughly update and modernize Russian cuisine while steadfastly holding to its traditions and spirit. Thank you comrade!"
-Alton Brown

From bright pickles to pillowy dumplings, ingenious vodka infusions to traditional homestyle dishes, and varied zakuski to satisfying sweets, Kachka the cookbook covers the vivid world of Russian cuisine. More than 100 recipes show how easy it is to eat, drink, and…


Book cover of Lions Roaring Far From Home: An Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees

Carol LaHines Author Of Distant Flickers: Stories of Identity & Loss

From my list on themed anthologies.

Why am I passionate about this?

The anthology form unites diverse voices around a common theme—in the case of Distant Flickers, identity and loss. The stories in the anthology explore intense personal relationships—of mother and child, old lovers, etc. Some of the stories are in the moment and some recounted with the perspective of time, some are fable-like, some formal, and others more colloquial. Reading them the reader is struck by the variety of approaches a writer might take to a subject. The device of the contributor’s notes enables the reader to see the story behind the story and how life informs art—life furnishing the raw material or day residue of the story.  

Carol's book list on themed anthologies

Carol LaHines Why did Carol love this book?

The prevailing narrative regarding adoption, at least in the U.S., is crafted by adoption professionals and adoptive parents and largely overlooks the experiences of the parties directly impacted—the adoptees themselves. As an adoptee—one who undertook a search for and was reunited with my first family, reassuming the name I was given at birth—I am always on the lookout for the work of other adoptees. Only we truly understand what it is like to be “split” between two families, to lose our roots and culture, and—perhaps most devastating—not to have our losses acknowledged. These stories, by Ethiopian adoptees, challenge traditional narratives that cast adoption as a benevolent practice, revealing the racist, classist, and colonialist roots that give rise to the modern institution. The stories speak to themes of displacement, bewilderment, and what it is like to grow up estranged from one’s culture, identity, and roots.

By Aselefech Evans (editor), Kassaye Berhanu-MacDonald (editor), Maureen McCauley (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lions Roaring Far From Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lions Roaring Far From Home: An Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees includes the essays and poems of 33 writers, ages 8 to over 50, raised in six countries (the US, Canada, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, and Australia). It is the first ever anthology by Ethiopian adoptees.

This anthology shares Ethiopian adoptees’ wide range of experiences, from childhood into adulthood, through the voices of the adoptees themselves. There is more than one mention of grief, confusion, and loss. The writers also talk about their strengths, hopes, happiness, and love for family. Along with sadness and anger, there is also compassion, grace, and…


Book cover of The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita And Alastair Smith Author Of The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics

From my list on rulers behaving badly in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith are professors of politics at New York University. They use the mathematical approach of game theory to understand the incentives of leaders in different settings. The Dictator’s Handbook distills decades of academic work into a few essential rules that encapsulate how leaders come to power and remain there.

Bruce's book list on rulers behaving badly in Africa

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita And Alastair Smith Why did Bruce love this book?

All of Kapuscinski’s books are gems. He traveled Africa and other parts of the developing world as a Soviet journalist. The Emperor describes the rule and decline of the Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie. The dry day-to-dry accounts of the emperor’s benign neglect for his people is chilling. Haile Selassie knew to keep those around him happy and not to worry about the people: “A man starved all his life will never rebel…. No one raised his voice or hand there. But just let the subject start to eat his fill and then try to take the bowl away, and immediately he rises in rebellion. The usefulness of hunger is that a hungry man thinks only of bread.”.

By Ryszard Kapuściński,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A "sensitive, powerful ... history" (The New York Review of Books) of a man living amidst nearly unimaginable pomp and luxury while his people teetered netween hunger and starvation.

Haile Selassie, King of Kings, Elect of God, Lion of Judah, His Most Puissant Majesty and Distinguished Highness the Emperor of Ethiopia, reigned from 1930 until he was overthrown by the army in 1974. While the fighting still raged, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Poland's leading foreign correspondent, traveled to Ethiopia to seek out and interview Selassie's servants and closest associates on how the Emperor had ruled and why he fell. This is Kapuscinski's…


Book cover of Last Gate of the Emperor

Catherine Egan Author Of Sneaks

From my list on middle-grade sci fi – with bonus aliens.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was bored or stressed out at school as a kid, I used to pretend that I was an alien posing as a person and that I’d come to earth to learn about humans. It was fun and helped me to relax. (Look, we all have our own ways of relaxing, I don’t know why “pretending to be an alien” isn’t on more self-care lists these days). Given my tendency to drift toward other worlds, it’s amazing that it took me so long to write a book featuring aliens! The trouble-making Sneaks provide the action in my most recent MG book, which also deals with very real middle-school struggles with friendships and family.  

Catherine's book list on middle-grade sci fi – with bonus aliens

Catherine Egan Why did Catherine love this book?

Funny and fast-paced, this story of a boy and his bionic cat will charm avid sci-fi fans and reluctant readers alike. Did I mention the bionic cat? Besa is the star, as far as I’m concerned. Protagonist Yared skips school (with his bionic cat!) to take part in an augmented reality tournament and finds himself at the center of a massive galactic war. Intricate world-building influenced by Ethiopian legend, a tight plot, and an engaging lead trio (including: bionic cat!) make this a delightful read. 

I loved Yared’s voice! Few readers will be able to resist his charm and humor. I certainly couldn’t.

The Aliens: The Werari – terrifying golden-eyed alien invaders with a bionic monster, the Bulgu.

By Kwame Mbalia, Prince Joel Makonnen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Last Gate of the Emperor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

From Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel David Makonnen comes
an action-packed Afrofuturist adventure about a mythical Ethiopian
empire. Sci-fi and fantasy combine in this epic journey to the
stars.

Yared Heywat lives an isolated life in Addis Prime
- a hardscrabble city with rundown tech, lots of rules,
and not much to do. His worrywart Uncle Moti and bionic lioness
Besa are his only family... and his only friends.

Often in trouble for his thrill-seeking antics and smart mouth,
those same qualities make Yared a star player of the underground
augmented reality game, The Hunt for Kaleb's Obelisk. But
when…


Book cover of I Didn't Do It for You: How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita And Alastair Smith Author Of The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics

From my list on rulers behaving badly in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith are professors of politics at New York University. They use the mathematical approach of game theory to understand the incentives of leaders in different settings. The Dictator’s Handbook distills decades of academic work into a few essential rules that encapsulate how leaders come to power and remain there.

Bruce's book list on rulers behaving badly in Africa

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita And Alastair Smith Why did Bruce love this book?

Wrong’s account of Eritrea’s bid for independence from Ethiopia highlights the conflict between the needs of the people and the wants of leaders. The title of her book is taken from what a soldier liberating Ethiopia from Italian rule told a local and sets the tone of the book. Time and again Wrong describes how leaders will starve their own people or bomb their own soldiers provide it help keep them in power.

By Michela Wrong,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Didn't Do It for You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One small East African country embodies the battered history of the continent: patronised by colonialists, riven by civil war, confused by Cold War manoeuvring, proud, colorful, with Africa's best espresso and worst rail service. Michela Wrong brilliantly reveals the contradictions and comedy, past and present, of Eritrea.

Just as the beat of a butterfly's wings is said to cause hurricanes on the other side of the world, so the affairs of tiny Eritrea reverberate onto the agenda of superpower strategists. This new book on Africa is from the author of the critically acclaimed In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz.

Eritrea…


Book cover of The Barefoot Emperor

Robert David Author Of Lights, Camera, Jemuru: Ethiopia through the lens of a community film school

From my list on that show you the real Ethiopia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived in Ethiopia for 7 years and arrived expecting to find a country beaten down by war and famine, I could not have been more wrong. Ethiopia covers a vast territory and is as deep in history and culture, while its myriad peoples speak over 80 different languages. It remains one of the most mysterious, misunderstood, and least visited countries on the planet, and a paradise for both physical and armchair travelers alike to explore one of the last great largely undiscovered places on earth. I continue to write articles for both national and international newspapers and magazines about Ethiopia and its many wonders. 

Robert's book list on that show you the real Ethiopia

Robert David Why did Robert love this book?

What William Dalrymple is to India, Philip Marsden is to Ethiopia. They are both inspired travel writers and scholarly historians. What I particularly loved about The Barefoot Emperor was that it actually reads like a page-turning thriller. Central to the story is the towering figure of the Emperor Tewedros, a brilliant military commander, political reformer, and charismatic leader, who was both loved and loathed by the warring factions that made up his kingdom. His rise and fall compare with anything achieved by Julius Ceasar or Genghis Khan, and Marsden captures his incredible, true-life story with bravura writing that leaps off the page. He turns a searing searchlight onto one of the most forgotten episodes in African history and captures it all with a breathtaking sense of spirit of place.        

By Philip Marsden,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A fascinating narrative excursion into a bizarre episode in 19th century Ethiopian and British imperial history featuring a remote African despot and his monstrous European-built gun.

On one of Addis Ababa's main roundabouts today sits a huge recently installed mortar. This is a replica of 'Sevastopol', a 70-ton lump of ordnance commissioned by one of the most extraordinary leaders Africa has ever produced - King of Kings of Ethiopia, the Emperor Theodore. In 1867, as his kingdom collapsed around him, Theodore retreated to his mountain-top stronghold in Magdala. It took his army six months to haul 'Sevastopol' through the gauges…


Book cover of Orphaned: One Woman's Mission to Save Africa's AIDS Children

Robert David Author Of Lights, Camera, Jemuru: Ethiopia through the lens of a community film school

From my list on that show you the real Ethiopia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived in Ethiopia for 7 years and arrived expecting to find a country beaten down by war and famine, I could not have been more wrong. Ethiopia covers a vast territory and is as deep in history and culture, while its myriad peoples speak over 80 different languages. It remains one of the most mysterious, misunderstood, and least visited countries on the planet, and a paradise for both physical and armchair travelers alike to explore one of the last great largely undiscovered places on earth. I continue to write articles for both national and international newspapers and magazines about Ethiopia and its many wonders. 

Robert's book list on that show you the real Ethiopia

Robert David Why did Robert love this book?

Leader? Hero? Saint? It’s difficult to find the words to define Haregewoin Teferra, the subject of this book, but somehow I feel these still fall short. A woman living in relative comfort in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, her life is turned upside down when she is given two young children to care for whose parents died due to HIV/AIDS. In time Haregewoin becomes a mother to many more just like them. In opening her doors, Haregewoin opened her heart to hundreds of orphaned children and gave them the chance of new and happy lives. This is a book that moved me to tears. Tears of rage at the injustices in the world and tears of relief that people like Haregewoin still exist.    

By Melissa Fay Greene,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a tin-walled compound outside Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a middle-class woman named Haregewoin Teferra suffers terrible personal losses. In grief, she turns to the church, and is presented with two orphans and asked to house them. Haregewoin agrees. Once she opens her gate, she never manages to close it again. Here is a woman who does not run away from HIV-positive and AIDS-orphaned children, brought to her on foot, by bus or by donkey cart. There are over a million AIDS orphans in Ethiopia; "There Is No Me Without You" tells a few of their remarkable stories through the eyes…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Ethiopia, Africa, and Christianity?

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

Ethiopia Explore 45 books about Ethiopia
Africa Explore 254 books about Africa
Christianity Explore 615 books about Christianity