100 books like Guests of the Sheik

By Elizabeth Warnock Fernea,

Here are 100 books that Guests of the Sheik fans have personally recommended if you like Guests of the Sheik. 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 Woman Who Fell from the Sky: An American Woman's Adventures in the Oldest City on Earth

Andrea Rugh Author Of Simple Gestures: A Cultural Journey into the Middle East

From my list on Middle Eastern culture written by outsiders.

Who am I?

My quest after culture began as a child reading National Geographic and wondering about exotic peoples. Later with a PhD in anthropology and living decades in the Middle East, I had a chance to immerse myself in the lives of people going about their normal activities. Eventually their thinking became almost as familiar as my own. The anthropologist Edward Hall says culture is elusive, “and what it hides it hides most effectively from its own practitioners.” He suggests that detached outsiders sometimes see cultures more clearly than local observers who have difficulty viewing themselves dispassionately. As outsider-writers, they validate insights much like anthropologists do, through comparisons of cultural values across time and space. 

Andrea's book list on Middle Eastern culture written by outsiders

Andrea Rugh Why did Andrea love this book?

Steil accepts a short-term assignment in 2006 to teach a journalism class to the local staff of a Yemeni newspaper in the capital, Sanaa. Intrigued by the experience of teaching and befriending men and women of totally different values and beliefs, she extends her stay for a year. She recounts the difficulties of teaching journalism and living in a country where the values she once saw as normal, are constantly being challenged. As often happens with sensitive outsiders, she also sees some advantages of Yemen’s conservative culture that make her question aspects of her own thinking. 

By Jennifer Steil,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Woman Who Fell from the Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I had no idea how to find my way around this medieval city. It was getting dark. I was tired. I didn’t speak Arabic. I was a little frightened. But hadn’t I battled scorpions in the wilds of Costa Rica and prevailed? Hadn’t I survived fainting in a San José brothel?  Hadn’t I once arrived in Ireland with only $10 in my pocket and made it last two weeks? Surely I could handle a walk through an unfamiliar town. So I took a breath, tightened the black scarf around my hair, and headed out to take my first solitary steps…


Book cover of At the Drop of a Veil

Andrea Rugh Author Of Simple Gestures: A Cultural Journey into the Middle East

From my list on Middle Eastern culture written by outsiders.

Who am I?

My quest after culture began as a child reading National Geographic and wondering about exotic peoples. Later with a PhD in anthropology and living decades in the Middle East, I had a chance to immerse myself in the lives of people going about their normal activities. Eventually their thinking became almost as familiar as my own. The anthropologist Edward Hall says culture is elusive, “and what it hides it hides most effectively from its own practitioners.” He suggests that detached outsiders sometimes see cultures more clearly than local observers who have difficulty viewing themselves dispassionately. As outsider-writers, they validate insights much like anthropologists do, through comparisons of cultural values across time and space. 

Andrea's book list on Middle Eastern culture written by outsiders

Andrea Rugh Why did Andrea love this book?

In 1945 Alireza married a member of a prominent Saudi family and went to live with him in his extended family. She recounts her experience living mainly in the company of the women of the family. Over 12 years and the birth of four children, she grows close to her Arabian family and learns to live according to their customs. The reader becomes immersed in Saudi culture in a way not easily available to an outsider and feels the same sadness as Marianne when ultimately her husband divorces her and she has to leave the family she has grown to love. 

By Marianne Alireza,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked At the Drop of a Veil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Autobiography: A harem is a female group composed of a married woman's mother-in-law, sisters-in-law, children, and servants. Californian Alireza arrived in Arabia in 1945 with her husband Ali. Shew grew to lover her expanded family and the harem. After 8 years, she was summarily divorced by Ali and escaped with the children to Switzerland, then home to America.


Book cover of Letters from Egypt

Andrea Rugh Author Of Simple Gestures: A Cultural Journey into the Middle East

From my list on Middle Eastern culture written by outsiders.

Who am I?

My quest after culture began as a child reading National Geographic and wondering about exotic peoples. Later with a PhD in anthropology and living decades in the Middle East, I had a chance to immerse myself in the lives of people going about their normal activities. Eventually their thinking became almost as familiar as my own. The anthropologist Edward Hall says culture is elusive, “and what it hides it hides most effectively from its own practitioners.” He suggests that detached outsiders sometimes see cultures more clearly than local observers who have difficulty viewing themselves dispassionately. As outsider-writers, they validate insights much like anthropologists do, through comparisons of cultural values across time and space. 

Andrea's book list on Middle Eastern culture written by outsiders

Andrea Rugh Why did Andrea love this book?

In the 1860s, the ailing Lady Duff Gordon is advised by doctors to seek warmer climes if she is to recover from an advanced case of tuberculous. She travels to Egypt and embarks from Cairo by sailing a boat up the Nile and deep into Nubia. Along the way she comments on encounters with people of all classes and occupations that she meets. The book stands in stark contrast to the largely unsympathetic picture of the Egyptian peasantry by other British writers of the time. Her sympathetic portrayal includes seeing the importance of Islam and deploring foreign efforts to convert the population to Christianity. Her depictions show that even during this early period certain basic values existed that in a general way still guide behavior today in Egypt.   

By Lucie Duff Gordon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1862, Lucie Duff Gordon left her husband and three children in England and settled in Egypt, where she remained for the rest of her short life. Seeking respite from her tuberculosis in the dry air, she moved into a ramshackle house above a temple in Luxor, and soon became an indispensable member of the community. Setting up a hospital in her home, she welcomed all - from slaves to local leaders. Her humane, open-minded voice shines across the centuries through these letters - witty, life-affirming, joyous, self-deprecating and utterly enchanted by her Arab neighbours.


Book cover of In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams

Andrea Rugh Author Of Simple Gestures: A Cultural Journey into the Middle East

From my list on Middle Eastern culture written by outsiders.

Who am I?

My quest after culture began as a child reading National Geographic and wondering about exotic peoples. Later with a PhD in anthropology and living decades in the Middle East, I had a chance to immerse myself in the lives of people going about their normal activities. Eventually their thinking became almost as familiar as my own. The anthropologist Edward Hall says culture is elusive, “and what it hides it hides most effectively from its own practitioners.” He suggests that detached outsiders sometimes see cultures more clearly than local observers who have difficulty viewing themselves dispassionately. As outsider-writers, they validate insights much like anthropologists do, through comparisons of cultural values across time and space. 

Andrea's book list on Middle Eastern culture written by outsiders

Andrea Rugh Why did Andrea love this book?

In the 2000s, Tahir Shah travels around Morocco collecting traditional wisdom stories and relying on the hospitality of local people for shelter and food. Shah is an outsider in a different way from the rest of the outsider authors here. Although growing up in the West, he nonetheless absorbs the Afghan culture of his family. From his Afghan father especially he learns the importance of storytelling as a way of passing on cultural values. The Moroccans know he is a foreigner but see him as an Anglo-Afghan more sympathetic than the normal Westerner. As a result, they reveal facets of their lives not normally shared with outsiders. The book shows how those seeking to understand culture must be open to finding it in all sorts of places.

By Tahir Shah,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Shortly after the 2005 London bombings, Tahir Shah was thrown into a Pakistani prison on suspicion of spying for Al-Qaeda. What sustained him during his terrifying, weeks-long ordeal were the stories his father told him as a child in Morocco.
Inspired by this, on his return to his adopted homeland he embarked on an adventure worthy of the mythical Arabian Nights, going in search of the stories and storytellers that have nourished this most alluring of countries for centuries. Wandering through the medinas of Fez and Marrakech, criss-crossing the Saharan sands and tasting the hospitality of ordinary Moroccans, he collected…


Book cover of Come with Me from Lebanon: An American Family Odyssey

Teresa Fava Thomas Author Of American Arabists in the Cold War Middle East, 1946–75: From Orientalism to Professionalism

From my list on Americans living and working in the Middle East.

Who am I?

Teresa Fava Thomas, Ph.D. is a professor of history at Fitchburg State University and author of American Arabists in the Cold War Middle East, 1946-75: From Orientalism to Professionalism for Anthem Press. I became interested in people who became area experts for the US State Department and how their study of hard languages like Arabic shaped their interactions with people in the region.

Teresa's book list on Americans living and working in the Middle East

Teresa Fava Thomas Why did Teresa love this book?

Ann Kerr and her husband Malcolm spent years in academic and diplomatic work across the region and especially in Cairo, Egypt and Beirut, Lebanon in critical times. Civil war and international conflict are described from the human perspective. The Kerr family dealt with great danger to help keep the American University of Beirut open amidst war; but paid a terrible price for their commitment to academic freedom.

By Ann Zwicker Kerr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Come with Me from Lebanon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ann Kerr's is a personal account of an American family during the most tumultuous years of Beirut's political strife. It begins with the tragic assassination of her husband Malcolm Kerr, one of the most respected scholars of Middle East studies, in 1984, seventeen months after he became president of the American University of Beirut. She retraces in detail the events that brought them to the Middle East, and reaches back into her childhood to describe a lifelong affinity for Lebanon. For a young American woman caring for a family in Lebanon and Egypt, life was like nothing she had ever…


Book cover of Making Diplomacy Work: Intelligent Innovation for the Modern World

Teresa Fava Thomas Author Of American Arabists in the Cold War Middle East, 1946–75: From Orientalism to Professionalism

From my list on Americans living and working in the Middle East.

Who am I?

Teresa Fava Thomas, Ph.D. is a professor of history at Fitchburg State University and author of American Arabists in the Cold War Middle East, 1946-75: From Orientalism to Professionalism for Anthem Press. I became interested in people who became area experts for the US State Department and how their study of hard languages like Arabic shaped their interactions with people in the region.

Teresa's book list on Americans living and working in the Middle East

Teresa Fava Thomas Why did Teresa love this book?

An experienced diplomat offers a good overview of how the past diplomatic history of the US since 1945 informs the present. Explains the major theoretical perspectives on modern diplomacy and fundamentals of practice. An informative read which presents a broad on how American diplomacy can be better shaped to function more effectively in the future.

By Paul Webster Hare,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Making Diplomacy Work: Intelligent Innovation for the Modern World is a critical and comprehensive survey of how diplomacy works. While most discussions of diplomatic reform stop short of proposing concrete ideas to make diplomacy work better, this text suggests doable initiatives that could make diplomacy more versatile, more attuned to modern realities, and more capable of confronting the shared problems that no state can solve on its own. It takes a fresh look at the practice of diplomacy, sets its achievements and failures in a contemporary context, and analyzes the major factors that have changed the way it is conducted.…


Book cover of Den of Lions: Memoirs of Seven Years

Teresa Fava Thomas Author Of American Arabists in the Cold War Middle East, 1946–75: From Orientalism to Professionalism

From my list on Americans living and working in the Middle East.

Who am I?

Teresa Fava Thomas, Ph.D. is a professor of history at Fitchburg State University and author of American Arabists in the Cold War Middle East, 1946-75: From Orientalism to Professionalism for Anthem Press. I became interested in people who became area experts for the US State Department and how their study of hard languages like Arabic shaped their interactions with people in the region.

Teresa's book list on Americans living and working in the Middle East

Teresa Fava Thomas Why did Teresa love this book?

Journalist Terry Anderson was working for the Associated Press, as part of a small contingent of American and British reporters living and working during the war in Lebanon. Taken hostage in 1985 and held for seven years Anderson describes how he coped with long years of punishment, extremes of loneliness, and isolation, then ultimately reached freedom. 

By Terry Anderson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On March 16, 1985, Associated Press's Chief Middle East Correspondent, Terry Anderson, was kidnapped on the streets of Beirut. 2454 days - nearly seven years - later, he emerged into the light. "Den of Lions" is his memoir of that harrowing time; months of solitary confinement, beatings and daily humiliation. It is a story of personal courage, of brave and unflinching support for his fellow prisoners, but it is above all a love story - Madeleine Bassil, his fiancee, contributes her own chapters to their story, bringing up their child, Sulome, who never saw her father until she was six…


Book cover of Abroad for Her Country: Tales of a Pioneer Woman Ambassador in the U.S. Foreign Service

Teresa Fava Thomas Author Of American Arabists in the Cold War Middle East, 1946–75: From Orientalism to Professionalism

From my list on Americans living and working in the Middle East.

Who am I?

Teresa Fava Thomas, Ph.D. is a professor of history at Fitchburg State University and author of American Arabists in the Cold War Middle East, 1946-75: From Orientalism to Professionalism for Anthem Press. I became interested in people who became area experts for the US State Department and how their study of hard languages like Arabic shaped their interactions with people in the region.

Teresa's book list on Americans living and working in the Middle East

Teresa Fava Thomas Why did Teresa love this book?

Although women have worked in diplomacy, their experiences serving in the United State Foreign Service are little known or understood. Her experience began in 1944 and she represented the USA in many countries, from Honduras to Zambia, in the State Department. Advancing your career and learning foreign languages while facing the professional challenges of operating in a wide variety of consulates and embassies makes for a fascinating story and explains a different perspective.

By Jean M. Wilkowski,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Abroad for Her Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"In Abroad for Her Country, Jean M. Wilkowski shares the story of her extraordinary career in the U.S. Foreign Service during the last half of the twentieth century. Born in an era when few women sought professional careers, Wilkowski graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and the University of Wisconsin and then rose through the ranks at the Department of State, from Vice Consul to the first woman U.S. Ambassador to an African country and the first woman acting U.S. Ambassador in Latin America.

During her thirty-five-year diplomatic career, Wilkowski was sent first as a vice consul to the Caribbean during…


Book cover of Band of Sisters: American Women at War in Iraq

Ryan Leigh Dostie Author Of Formation: A Woman's Memoir of Stepping Out of Line

From my list on women in the United States military.

Who am I?

The relationship between servicewomen and the US military is a complicated one. It’s love, strength, comradery, and also abuse, manipulation, sexual harassment, and soul-crushing institutional betrayal. After leaving the military, I found most books or movies didn’t adequately represent this complex relationship, either ignoring the abuse altogether, or focusing too much on it and erasing the bravery and resilience of women service members. I strive to write books that better represent this conflicting relationship, and I hope this book list helps better reflect women’s experiences in the US military.  

Ryan's book list on women in the United States military

Ryan Leigh Dostie Why did Ryan love this book?

Band of Sisters gives us a book full of heroism, valor, combat action, and real sacrifices of women fighting in a foreign war. For me, this book beautifully portrays why women continue to serve—it highlights comradery, the willingness to put oneself in danger for another, the pride in a job well done, the ability to continue on after the unthinkable. Especially after reading a book such as The Lonely Soldier, Band of Sisters shows what The Lonely Soldier is missing—that women, too, want to fiercely fight and fiercely protect. It also proves that there are no front lines in modern war, and that women engage in combat, proving themselves well-suited for the role. A must-have to shut up those people who say, “Well, women don’t actually see combat.”   

By Kirsten Holmstedt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Iraq, the front lines are everywhere . . . and everywhere in Iraq, no matter what their job descriptions say, women in the U.S. military are fighting--more than 155,000 of them. A critical and commercial success in hardcover, Band of Sisters presents a dozen groundbreaking and often heart-wrenching stories of American women in combat in Iraq, such as the U.S.s first female pilot to be shot down and survive, the militarys first black female pilot in combat, a young turret gunner defending convoys, and a nurse struggling to save lives, including her own.


Book cover of Khul-Khaal: Five Egyptian Women Tell Their Stories

Andrea Rugh Author Of Within the Circle: Parents and Children in an Arab Village

From my list on Middle Eastern culture written by insiders.

Who am I?

My work as an anthropologist has focused on understanding the worldviews of people of different backgrounds and nationalities in the Middle East. This is despite the tendency now for anthropologists to pursue more theoretical and academic research. Although there are many ways to acquire an understanding of culture, the best is of course to live and work with local people. The next best way is to listen to them explaining themselves. These books by cultural insiders do just that. The authors come from several sub-cultures of the Arab world and religions. They all describe their own versions of culture, that although overlapping in many ways, also show the distinctiveness of each group.

Andrea's book list on Middle Eastern culture written by insiders

Andrea Rugh Why did Andrea love this book?

During the sixties, Atiya collected life stories of five Egyptian women from the lower and middle classes, ranging in age from twenty to mid-sixty. The stories show how to them, life starts with marriage. If they mention their childhoods, it is as preparation for marriage. Parents invariably arranged the women’s marriages or gave permission to potential husbands attracted to their daughters from a distance. Once the excitement of their weddings is over, however, most face an endless stream of difficulties. They recount experiences as co-wives, being forced into acrimonious divorces, family conflicts, and problems with children. They discuss witchcraft, female circumcision, poverty, and health issues. The book is unusual in that it conveys in their own words, the thinking of people not usually heard from in Middle Eastern writing.

By Nayra Atiya,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Soft cover book titled KHUL-KHAAL, Five Egyptian Women Tell Their Stories. (LL-Base2-BS-1) rareviewbooks


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