100 books like Letters to a Young Muslim

By Omar Saif Ghobash,

Here are 100 books that Letters to a Young Muslim fans have personally recommended if you like Letters to a Young Muslim. 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 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Sarah McArthur Author Of The AMA Handbook of Leadership

From my list on working together towards a bright future.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lifelong student of philosophy, leadership, and principled living. Having worked with great leaders of today and being an editor-in-chief of a leadership journal (Leader to Leader), I experience how their leadership continues the principles set forth in days long past, and I publish works by authors who are keeping these principles alive in their writing. I am grateful for the opportunity to recommend books that might help others as we grapple with how to be in the world today to create value for all.

Sarah's book list on working together towards a bright future

Sarah McArthur Why did Sarah love this book?

I'm not sure when I have learned more about humanity than with the books of Yuval Harari.

I recommend this book as it is the first of the series, and I could read it over and over and still not have captured everything that Yuval Harari explores and teaches us.

A great historian who uses history to explore our future, Yuval Harari is one whose books I read every chance I have.

By Yuval Noah Harari,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?

In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the…

Book cover of The Silk Roads: A New History of the World

Kenneth W. Harl Author Of Empires of the Steppes: A History of the Nomadic Tribes Who Shaped Civilization

From my list on how the nomadic peoples enriched and shaped civilizations across Eurasia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Professor Emeritus of Classical and Byzantine History, and I was fascinated by Attila and the Hun and Genghis Khan from early childhood when I decided that I would become a historian. I set out to write the history of the Eurasian nomads from their perspective, and so convey their neglected history to a wider readership.

Kenneth's book list on how the nomadic peoples enriched and shaped civilizations across Eurasia

Kenneth W. Harl Why did Kenneth love this book?

A literate history of the economic and religious history of Europe, the Middle East, and adjacent Eursian steppes from fifth century B.C. down to the opening of the twenty-first century. I found the book a delight to read.

The first ten chapters are complementary to my work Empires of the Steppes. Professor Frankopan, however, continues the story to emergence of the global economy based on oceanic trade. The excellent analysis of colonial rivalries of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is a must reading for understanding the geopolitical role of Eurasia today the Belt and Road initiative of China.

By Peter Frankopan,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Silk Roads as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The No. 1 Sunday Times and international bestseller - a major reassessment of world history in light of the economic and political renaissance in the re-emerging east For centuries, fame and fortune was to be found in the west - in the New World of the Americas. Today, it is the east which calls out to those in search of adventure and riches. The region stretching from eastern Europe and sweeping right across Central Asia deep into China and India, is taking centre stage in international politics, commerce and culture - and is shaping the modern world. This region, the…

Book cover of Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

Why am I passionate about this?

I have had a long career as a professor of organizational behavior. My view is that the most ignored and undervalued aspect of leadership is the development and implementation of political skills. Any leader who claims, “I don’t do politics” or “I’m not political,” is not serving themselves very well and, in fact, may be setting themselves up for failure. Whether in organizational life, in the sphere of public policy, or in daily life, we need to overcome the obstacles that impede our capacity to implement agendas and ideas and achieve our aspirations. Dreamers who lack political skills remain dreamers, not leaders. 

Samuel's book list on books for leaders who need to master the political skills to move ideas and innovations and overcome resistance

Samuel Bacharach Why did Samuel love this book?

This book has become a classic. It’s a brilliant book.

Doris Kearns Goodwin gives specific examples of how Abraham Lincoln was a master in creating coalitions and mobilizing support in the face of continuous resistance. His cabinet was made up of senior and ambitious individuals, many of whom were strong leaders in their own right.

Lincoln had to figure out how to get them on his side and create viable coalitions in order to move his key agenda—win the war and ensure the passage of the 13th Amendment. In many ways, he was not simply a visionary but a master of balancing persuasion and authority—which is a desirable leadership skill.

By Doris Kearns Goodwin,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Team of Rivals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most influential books of the past fifty years, Team of Rivals is Pulitzer Prize–winning author and esteemed presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s modern classic about the political genius of Abraham Lincoln, his unlikely presidency, and his cabinet of former political foes.

Winner of the prestigious Lincoln Prize and the inspiration for the Oscar Award winning–film Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, directed by Steven Spielberg, and written by Tony Kushner.

On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago.…

Book cover of This Is Shakespeare

Tom Fletcher Author Of Ten Survival Skills for a World in Flux

From my list on navigating an unstable world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a recovering ambassador, now running an Oxford college. After almost 25 years in diplomacy, including working in no 10 for three prime ministers, I realised that education is upstream diplomacy. If we are to find a way through the challenges ahead – from climate change to pandemics and economic crisis to artificial intelligence – we must act, urgently, to upgrade why, what, and how we learn. I set out to ask hundreds of the most inspirational people on the planet what they wished they had known, and what they would share with the next generation if this was their last day. 

Tom's book list on navigating an unstable world

Tom Fletcher Why did Tom love this book?

A book of immense humanity and authenticity, which reminds us of how the great themes of great literature and art can offer solace and guidance in moments of fragility. By helping us go back to Shakespeare with less insecurity or baggage, the book opens up new perspectives on how others have grappled with these questions about how to be human. And it reminds us that we are allowed to question, challenge, and have fun.

By Emma Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


'The best introduction to the plays I've read, perhaps the best book on Shakespeare, full stop' Alex Preston, Observer

'It makes you impatient to see or re-read the plays at once' Hilary Mantel

A genius and prophet whose timeless works encapsulate the human condition like no others. A writer who surpassed his contemporaries in vision, originality and literary mastery. Who wrote like an angel, putting it all so much better than anyone else.
Is this Shakespeare? Well, sort of.

But it doesn't really tell us the whole truth. So much of what…

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 The Maisky Diaries: Red Ambassador to the Court of St James's, 1932-1943

Andrew Nagorski Author Of 1941: The Year Germany Lost the War

From my list on the view from London in 1941.

Why am I passionate about this?

Award-winning journalist and historian Andrew Nagorski was born in Scotland to Polish parents, moved to the United States as an infant, and has rarely stopped moving since. During a long career at Newsweek, he served as the magazine's bureau chief in Hong Kong, Moscow, Rome, Bonn, Warsaw, and Berlin. In 1982, he gained international notoriety when the Kremlin, angered by his enterprising reporting, expelled him from the Soviet Union. Nagorski is the author of seven books, including The Nazi Hunters and Hitlerland.

Andrew's book list on the view from London in 1941

Andrew Nagorski Why did Andrew love this book?

Ivan Maisky served as the Soviet Union’s ambassador in London from 1932 to 1943. In his extensive diaries, he chronicled his frequent interactions with Churchill and other British officials. He predicted that 1941 would be “the decisive year of the war,” which proved accurate. But, like his boss Joseph Stalin, he refused to believe at first that Hitler would turn against the Soviet Union, with whom Germany had signed a non-aggression pact. His diary shows how quickly the Kremlin acted as if it had always opposed Hitler’s plans—and made increasingly strident demands for Western aid. The makings of the future Cold War are already evident in this account.

By Ivan Maisky,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Highlights of the extraordinary wartime diaries of Ivan Maisky, Soviet ambassador to London

The terror and purges of Stalin's Russia in the 1930s discouraged Soviet officials from leaving documentary records let alone keeping personal diaries. A remarkable exception is the unique diary assiduously kept by Ivan Maisky, the Soviet ambassador to London between 1932 and 1943. This selection from Maisky's diary, never before published in English, grippingly documents Britain's drift to war during the 1930s, appeasement in the Munich era, negotiations leading to the signature of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, Churchill's rise to power, the German invasion of Russia, and the…

Book cover of A Memory Called Empire

R.M. Olson Author Of Redshift

From my list on restoring your faith in humanity.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a former journalist-turned-lawyer and a recovering news junky, I’ve spent much of my life watching unhappy scenarios play out. But what’s always astonished me me is how, no matter how bad things get or how difficult the situation, there’s a spark of humanity, of kindness and compassion and optimism, that comes out in people at the most unexpected of times. Now, as an author and a parent, I find myself drawn to stories that remind me of that—that no matter how bleak life may look, how cruel or arbitrary the circumstances, there’s something good and beautiful and worth fighting for, not “somewhere out there,” but inside us. 

R.M.'s book list on restoring your faith in humanity

R.M. Olson Why did R.M. love this book?

The delicious worldbuilding, with its gorgeous, sensual details, and the intriguing story setup, were the things that grabbed me and pulled me into the book. The characters—funny, complicated, and utterly loveable—convinced me to stay.

But it was the complex, beautiful exploration of identity, belonging, love, grief, and longing that’s stayed with me since I listened to the last word of the audiobook. This book manages to be both an exciting and action-packed adventure and a beautiful tribute to the bittersweet complexities of being human. 

By Arkady Martine,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked A Memory Called Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This incredible opening to the duology recalls the best of John le Carre, Iain M. Banks's Culture novels and Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch trilogy.

In a war of lies she seeks the truth . . .

Ambassador Mahit Dzmare travels to the Teixcalaanli Empire's interstellar capital, eager to take up her new post. Yet when she arrives, she discovers her predecessor was murdered. But no one will admit his death wasn't accidental - and she might be next.

Now Mahit must navigate the capital's enticing yet deadly halls of power, to discover dangerous truths. And while she hunts for the…

Book cover of Brotherhood of Kings: How International Relations Shaped the Ancient Near East

Sarah C. Melville Author Of The Campaigns of Sargon II, King of Assyria, 721–705 B.C.

From my list on introducing the ancient Near East.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in the ancient Near East began when I was about 8 years old. One day, when couldn’t find anything to do, I started paging through a book on Assyrian art that I found in one of my parents’ bookcases. I was hooked. I wanted to know what made those mysterious ancients tick. How did they understand the world they inhabited? How did they live? What made them fight so hard and so often? I became an Assyriologist in order to answer those questions, and I’ve been working toward that goal ever since.

Sarah's book list on introducing the ancient Near East

Sarah C. Melville Why did Sarah love this book?

Outside of specialists, few people know about the complex international relations that developed in the Near East in the 2nd millennium BC, during the Middle and Late Bronze Age when Egyptian, Hittite, Babylonian, Assyrian, and Mitannian kings competed to gain power, prestige, and territory. Leaders created an intricate system of treaty agreements, diplomatic protocols, trade relations, and dynastic marriages to further their aims and keep peace. (Wars played a big role as well.) Diplomatic correspondence from these periods reveals the personalities of the kings involved: some complain, some wheedle, and others command, but all are anxious to retain power and earn the support of their gods. Well-chosen quotes from ancient sources and Podany’s lively writing style make this a rewarding and entertaining read. 

By Amanda H. Podany,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Amanda Podany here takes readers on a vivid tour through a thousand years of ancient Near Eastern history, from 2300 to 1300 BCE, paying particular attention to the lively interactions that took place between the great kings of the day.

Allowing them to speak in their own words, Podany reveals how these leaders and their ambassadors devised a remarkably sophisticated system of diplomacy and trade. What the kings forged, as they saw it, was a relationship of friends-brothers-across hundreds of miles. Over centuries they worked out ways for their ambassadors to travel safely to one another's capitals, they created formal…

Book cover of Creation: A Novel

Thomas Suddendorf Author Of The Gap: The Science of What Separates Us from Other Animals

From my list on peculiar events and issues that changed the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of psychology at the University of Queensland and I am fascinated by big picture questions about how we became the peculiar creatures that we are. Shortly after I was asked to compile a list of recommendations, I attended my friend Ashley Hay’s book launch of Gum. This beautiful book does not just present a bunch of facts about Australia’s iconic trees, but uses this lens to examine many broader issues from colonial history to climate change. Reading it inspired me to create the present list of books that, unlike the rote learning of dates that marked many history classes at school, take much more interesting, novel vantage points from which to understand why things turned out the way they did.

Thomas' book list on peculiar events and issues that changed the world

Thomas Suddendorf Why did Thomas love this book?

Occasionally, a novel perspective on events that changed the world can also be presented in a novel (sorry). Gore Vidal’s Creation is one example that left a deep impression on me. With the invention of writing, human philosophies could manifest in lasting new ways that profoundly shaped the world. Vidal’s historical fiction invites us to entertain the possibility that a single human living in the 5th century BC could have met the founding fathers of many of today’s moral traditions. It tells the story of the imaginary life of Cyrus, a Persian diplomat, grandson of Zoroaster, who travels the world and meets Socrates, the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Confucius among others. This may not be an easy read, and I recall it involved a lot of name-dropping, but it is worth the effort – providing a fascinating comparative perspective on religion and the human quest for meaning.

By Gore Vidal,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A sweeping novel of politics, war, philosophy, and adventure–in a restored edition, featuring never-before-published material from Gore Vidal’s original manuscript–Creationoffers a captivating grand tour of the ancient world.
Cyrus Spitama, grandson of the prophet Zoroaster and lifelong friend of Xerxes, spent most of his life as Persian ambassador for the great king Darius. He traveled to India, where he discussed nirvana with Buddha, and to the warring states of Cathay, where he learned of Tao from Master Li and fished on the riverbank with Confucius. Now blind and aged in Athens–the Athens of Pericles, Sophocles, Thucydides, Herodotus, and Socrates–Cyrus recounts…

Book cover of The Ambassadors: America's Diplomats on the Front Lines

David J. Dunford Author Of From Sadat to Saddam: The Decline of American Diplomacy in the Middle East

From my list on understanding how to fix U.S. diplomacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion is fixing our diplomacy. Relatively late in my career, I found a new home working with and for some of the Foreign Service’s most talented people. My assignments in Egypt and Saudi Arabia (during the 1990-91 Gulf War) led to my appointment as ambassador in Oman. After retirement I returned to Cairo to set up a regional multilateral development bank (we were unsuccessful) and later rebuild Iraq’s foreign ministry. I experienced the negative and frustrating impact of politicization and militarization on our foreign policy. Knowing we can and must do better motivated me to write From Sadat to Saddam and to commend to you the five books below.    

David's book list on understanding how to fix U.S. diplomacy

David J. Dunford Why did David love this book?

Richter recounts the stories of four extraordinary professional diplomats who served post 9/11 and are role models for the diplomats of the future. Anne Patterson, U.S. ambassador in Egypt and Pakistan, worked for me briefly in Washington and Riyadh. I crossed paths with Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador in Iraq and Afghanistan, many times in Washington, Baghdad, and elsewhere. I met Chris Stevens once before he became U.S. ambassador in Libya. The political exploitation of his death was outrageous. I didn’t know Robert Ford, who resigned in frustration over U.S. policy toward Syria. They were sent to dangerous and unstable places. Diplomacy can be risky. They had to work closely were their military counterparts. They experienced the frustration of advising Washington politicians who lack both understanding and a willingness to listen. 

By Paul Richter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Veteran diplomatic correspondent Paul Richter goes behind the battles and the headlines to show how American ambassadors are the unconventional warriors in the Muslim world-running local government, directing drone strikes, building nations, and risking their lives on the front lines.

The tale's heroes are a small circle of top career diplomats who have been an unheralded but crucial line of national defense in the past two decades of wars in the greater Middle East. In The Ambassadors, Paul Richter shares the astonishing, true-life stories of four expeditionary diplomats who "do the hardest things in the hardest places."

The book describes…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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