100 books like Folktales of the Canadian Sephardim

By Andre Elbaz,

Here are 100 books that Folktales of the Canadian Sephardim fans have personally recommended if you like Folktales of the Canadian Sephardim. 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 The Decameron

Dianne Hales Author Of La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World

From my list on italy and italian.

Why am I passionate about this?

Decades ago, I fell madly, gladly, and giddily in love with Italian. This passion inspired La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with the World’s Most Enchanting Language, which became a New York Times best-seller and won an Italian knighthood for my contributions to promoting Italy’s language. Intrigued by the world’s most famous portrait, I wrote Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, an Amazon Best Book of the Year, translated into seven languages. My most recent journeys through Italian culture are La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World and  ‘A’ Is for Amore, an e-book written during the pandemic and available free on my website.

Dianne's book list on italy and italian

Dianne Hales Why did Dianne love this book?

During a plague that killed a quarter of Florence’s citizens, Boccaccio crafted an exuberant, entertaining, death-defying work of literature. In this book, seven young women and three young men taking refuge in a country villa swap 100 tales of love, lust, mischief, and treachery. 

I read a translation of The Decameron during a sabbatical in Italy and was swept back in time. In every village, I’d look around a piazza and see characters straight from its pages: wily merchants, corrupt politicians, clever wives, henpecked husbands, bumbling fools. This book still resonates in the 21st century—a tribute to Boccaccio’s skill as a spell-weaver. Some of his stories are shamelessly, laughably bawdy. But all remind us that, even as everything changes, our shared humanity remains the same.

By Giovanni Boccaccio,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1348, as the Black Death ravages their city, ten young Florentines take refuge in the countryside...

Taken from the Greek, meaning 'ten-day event', Boccaccio's Decameron sees his characters amuse themselves by each telling a story a day, for the ten days of their confinement - a hundred stories of love and adventure, life and death, and surprising twists of fate. Less preoccupied with abstract concepts of morality or religion than earthly values, the tales range from the bawdy Peronella, hiding her lover in a tub, to Ser Cepperallo, who, despite his unholy effrontery, becomes a Saint.…


Book cover of Burning Brightly: New Light on Old Tales Told Today

Justin Jaron Lewis Author Of Imagining Holiness: Classic Hasidic Tales in Modern Times

From my list on people telling each other stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

Nearly forty years ago, as a young poet, I started going to a storytelling circle in Toronto, thinking it would be a good venue to recite my poems. What I heard there awakened something in me. When I was a child, my parents read me wonder tales, and I soon began to read them on my own. Now I was hearing these stories, the way they were heard for millennia before anyone wrote them down. Today, I am a storyteller, I am married, and I am a professor who teaches a course on storytelling and writes about stories – all because of those weekly gatherings years ago and the storytellers there.

Justin's book list on people telling each other stories

Justin Jaron Lewis Why did Justin love this book?

Stories come alive when people tell them to each other.

In my mid-20s, I happened upon a weekly gathering in Toronto, “1001 Friday Nights of Storytelling.” In a former synagogue turned art school – with candlelight shining on works in progress – people told old tales, by heart and with heart. This was the beginning of many things in my life, and this is the community that folklorist Kay Stone has written about.

She shows that the Toronto storytelling circle is part of a worldwide movement. She talks with great storytellers and explores favourite stories with them. And she shares her own struggle with a witch story from Grimms’ Fairy Tales, and how, as she told it again and again, she changed the story and the story changed her.

By Kay Stone,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Burning Brightly is the first full-length book treatment of professional storytelling in North America today. For some years there has been a major storytelling revival throughout the continent, with hundreds of local groups and centres springing up, and with storytelling becoming an important part of the professional training for librarians.

In the book, Stone explores storytelling through storytellers themselves, while providing enlightening commentary from her own background as a storyteller. Included in her analysis are informative discussions of organized storytelling communities, individual tellers, and tales. Issues such as the modern recontextualization of old tales and the role of women in…


Book cover of Making Witches: Newfoundland Traditions of Spells and Counterspells

Justin Jaron Lewis Author Of Imagining Holiness: Classic Hasidic Tales in Modern Times

From my list on people telling each other stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

Nearly forty years ago, as a young poet, I started going to a storytelling circle in Toronto, thinking it would be a good venue to recite my poems. What I heard there awakened something in me. When I was a child, my parents read me wonder tales, and I soon began to read them on my own. Now I was hearing these stories, the way they were heard for millennia before anyone wrote them down. Today, I am a storyteller, I am married, and I am a professor who teaches a course on storytelling and writes about stories – all because of those weekly gatherings years ago and the storytellers there.

Justin's book list on people telling each other stories

Justin Jaron Lewis Why did Justin love this book?

Stories can be dangerous. People who love storytelling are fascinated by Newfoundland, where isolation nourished a rich oral culture (in a distinct English dialect).

Barbara Rieti introduces many colourful Newfoundlanders and the stories they have to tell – but not about long-ago times. These stories are about witches who live among us, or who are dead but well-remembered.

You can imagine how dangerous it might be to be called a witch, even with witch-burning gone out of fashion. (In its place, people cast spells to give witches the burning pain of bladder infections.) But “witches” could also use their reputations to get things they needed.

The author is very scholarly and does not believe there is any real witchcraft or magic behind these stories – but some of them left me wondering!

By Barbara Rieti,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

There is a little-known tradition of witch lore in Newfoundland culture. Those believed to have the power to influence the fortunes of others are not mythological characters but neighbours, relations, or even friends. Drawing from her own interviews and a wealth of material from the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archive, Barbara Rieti explores the range and depth of Newfoundland witch tradition, looking at why certain people acquired reputations as witches, and why others considered themselves bewitched. The tales that emerge - despite their seemingly fantastic elements of spells and black heart books, hags, and healing charms - concern everyday…


Book cover of Centering Anishinaabeg Studies: Understanding the World through Stories

Justin Jaron Lewis Author Of Imagining Holiness: Classic Hasidic Tales in Modern Times

From my list on people telling each other stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

Nearly forty years ago, as a young poet, I started going to a storytelling circle in Toronto, thinking it would be a good venue to recite my poems. What I heard there awakened something in me. When I was a child, my parents read me wonder tales, and I soon began to read them on my own. Now I was hearing these stories, the way they were heard for millennia before anyone wrote them down. Today, I am a storyteller, I am married, and I am a professor who teaches a course on storytelling and writes about stories – all because of those weekly gatherings years ago and the storytellers there.

Justin's book list on people telling each other stories

Justin Jaron Lewis Why did Justin love this book?

This is a book about stories of the land I live on.

My home is in Winnipeg, on the edge of the flatland called “the Prairies” in Canada and “the Great Plains” in the United States. But the land doesn’t care about the Canada-US border. And that border is nothing but an imposition on the older nations whose territory I live in: the Red River Métis, and the Anishinaabeg.

These Indigenous Peoples have ancient living traditions of oral storytelling, and this book, by Anishinaabeg scholars, celebrates their stories’ spiritual, practical, and political power.

A teaching shared by storyteller Kathleen Delores Westcott tells us “the story is a living being. It’s alive.” That teaching has helped me to understand how stories attract us, get inside us, change, and move across boundaries. 

By Jill Doerfler (editor), Niigaanwew James Sinclair (editor), Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For the Anishinaabeg people, who span a vast geographic region from the Great Lakes to the Plains and beyond, stories are vessels of knowledge. They are bagijiganan, offerings of the possibilities within Anishinaabeg life. Existing along a broad narrative spectrum, from aadizookaanag (traditional or sacred narratives) to dibaajimowinan (histories and news) - as well as everything in between - storytelling is one of the central practices and methods of individual and community existence. Stories create and understand, survive and endure, revitalize and persist. They honour the past, recognise the present, and provide visions of the future.

In remembering, (re)making, and…


Book cover of The Sultan's Communists: Moroccan Jews and the Politics of Belonging

Alan Verskin Author Of A Vision of Yemen: The Travels of a European Orientalist and His Native Guide, A Translation of Hayyim Habshush's Travelogue

From my list on the life stories of modern Middle Eastern Jews.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a history professor who is drawn to history out of a love of recovering and making accessible otherwise forgotten voices and stories of the past. I’m especially interested in relationships between Jews and Muslims and how they’ve dealt with minorityhood, displacement, colonialism, and modernization. I’ve written four books, two focusing on Muslims and two on Jews, as well as numerous articles. Among my greatest pleasures as a scholar is seeing my readers begin with an interest in the stories of one religious group (either Muslims or Jews) and then become so curious about the drama, joy, and conflicts of the era that they become interested in the stories of the other as well.

Alan's book list on the life stories of modern Middle Eastern Jews

Alan Verskin Why did Alan love this book?

Alma Heckman’s The Sultan’s Communists uses the life stories of five prominent Moroccan Jewish communists to paint a complex picture of Jewish identity in twentieth-century Morocco. By documenting their struggles, Heckman details the often surprising ways in which Moroccan Jews negotiated their political environment and mediated between Moroccan patriotism, French colonialism, radical politics, Arab and Jewish identity, and Zionism. She also describes the ways in which the Moroccan sultan reimagined his relationship with the country’s Jews and the surprising history of how and why he ultimately came to embrace Jewish communists, who, to begin with, had been the subject of severe repression, including imprisonment and exile. 

By Alma Rachel Heckman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Sultan's Communists uncovers the history of Jewish radical involvement in Morocco's national liberation project and examines how Moroccan Jews envisioned themselves participating as citizens in a newly-independent Morocco. Closely following the lives of five prominent Moroccan Jewish Communists (Leon Rene Sultan, Edmond Amran El Maleh, Abraham Serfaty, Simon Levy, and Sion Assidon), Alma Rachel Heckman describes how Moroccan Communist Jews fit within the story of mass Jewish exodus from Morocco in the 1950s and '60s, and how they survived oppressive post-independence authoritarian rule under the Moroccan monarchy to ultimately become heroic emblems of state-sponsored Muslim-Jewish tolerance.

The figures at…


Book cover of Hideous Kinky

Buffy Cram Author Of Once Upon an Effing Time

From my list on living that 60s cult/commune life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up living in a housing co-op on Vancouver Island, BC. While not technically a commune, it did have some of the hallmarks. There were gangs of partially clothed kids roaming wild. There were a bunch of idealistic adults who had dreams of shared land stewardship and, well, shared everything. The housing project succeeded in many ways (it still exists today) and, it failed in other ways (over the years there were many fractures in the community). I’ve always been fascinated by attempts at communal living. I suppose my obsession with cult life is just an extension of this. It is my life imagined one step further.

Buffy's book list on living that 60s cult/commune life

Buffy Cram Why did Buffy love this book?

This book is about a young mother who takes her two daughters to Marrakech, Morocco in the 1960s so she can study Sufism, which, although not technically a “cult” does seem rather cult-like when described from the point of view of a five-year-old child who is watching her mother do strange ritual spinning to try to annihilate her ego.

You might remember the 1998 movie adaptation of this book starring Kate Winslet, but I think the book is better because of its dreamy, almost other-worldly descriptions of street life in Marrakech. This gem of a book is steeped in childlike wonder and longing and it will be over far too soon.

By Esther Freud,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An unusual story about Marrakesh in the 1960's told through the eyes of a five year old child.


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

Melissa Addey Author Of A String of Silver Beads

From my list on 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!

Melissa's book list on exploring Morocco’s culture

Melissa Addey Why did Melissa 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 Author Of A String of Silver Beads

From my list on 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!

Melissa's book list on exploring Morocco’s culture

Melissa Addey Why did Melissa 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.


Book cover of This Blinding Absence of Light

Rebecca Kingston Author Of Plutarch's Prism: Classical Reception and Public Humanism in France and England, 1500-1800

From my list on why politics matter.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a student of the history of ideas, with a particular interest in political thought, for over forty years. I have read countless books, both ancient and modern, and in several languages, that explore themes related to public life. I am a dedicated citizen of a contemporary liberal democracy, but today, I live in fear of a growing backlash against liberal democracy. The risk of democratic backsliding in the contemporary US is real as citizens become more disillusioned with politics. In other liberal democracies, some party leaders are adopting populist rhetoric to enhance their electoral appeal, but in doing so, they are undermining some of the established norms of public life. 

Rebecca's book list on why politics matter

Rebecca Kingston Why did Rebecca love this book?

This is an amazing book!

Ben Jelloun was a political prisoner in Morocco for several years and was imprisoned in a dark cell in the ground in unimaginably horrific conditions. This book demonstrates politics gone wrong and the extent of the brutality that can be ravaged on other human beings in a system lacking justice or any sense of human rights and dignity.

Despite the intensely inhumane conditions of imprisonment, Ben Jelloun carries us along his journey and offers his readers an inspiring account of endurance and courage.

This book needs to be read by people in an era of democratic backsliding because it helps to demonstrate some of the things that are at stake when electorates become tempted by authoritarian leaders.

By Tahar Ben Jelloun, Linda Coverdale (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Blinding Absence of Light as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An immediate and critically acclaimed bestseller in France and winner of the 2004 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, This Blinding Absence of Light is the latest work by Tahar Ben Jelloun, the first North African winner of the Prix Goncourt and winner of the 1994 Prix Mahgreb. Ben Jelloun crafts a horrific real-life narrative into fiction to tell the appalling story of the desert concentration camps in which King Hassan II of Morocco held his political enemies under the most harrowing conditions. Not until September 1991, under international pressure, was Hassan's regime forced to open these desert hellholes. A handful…


Book cover of Sister Stardust

John Glynn Author Of Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer

From my list on books that feel like Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer”.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hi! I'm John Glynn, and I'm excited to share some book recommendations inspired by one of my favorite Taylor Swift songs, "Cruel Summer."  To me, this song perfectly encapsulates the heightened emotions of summer love—a theme at the heart of my memoir Out East. I chose books that capture the "fever dream highs" of the season. But at the same time, as Taylor sings, "Summer's a knife," filled with longing and heartache, primed for nostalgia. All of these books carry the kind of moonlit shimmer I crave in a smart beach read. As a Swiftie, a beach lover, an avid reader, and a hopeless romantic, I hope you enjoy.

John's book list on books that feel like Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer”

John Glynn Why did John love this book?

Jane Green is an icon in every sense, and this is my absolute favorite of her many bestselling books. I love stories with a strong sense of place, stories that transport me. This book does just that, whisking the reader to a forgotten scene from the Swinging 60s, an ex-pat community in Marrakesh once frequented in real life by the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Yves Saint Laurent, and other luminaries of the era.

The narrator is an outsider who falls under the spell of Talitha Getty, a magnetic actress and model who presides over the whole swirling scene. This novel feels like the literary equivalent of a starry summer night. 

By Jane Green,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*NATIONAL BESTSELLER*

A PARADE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF THE YEAR
A NEW YORK POST BEST BOOK OF THE WEEK

In her first novel inspired by a true story, Jane Green re-imagines the life of troubled icon Talitha Getty in this transporting story from a forgotten chapter of the Swinging '60s

From afar Talitha's life seemed perfect. In her twenties, and already a famous model and actress, she moved from London to a palace in Marrakesh, with her husband Paul Getty, the famous oil heir. There she presided over a swirling ex-pat scene filled with music, art, free love and a…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Morocco, Canada, and presidential biography?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Morocco, Canada, and presidential biography.

Morocco 46 books
Canada 430 books