70 books like Mecca

By Susan Straight,

Here are 70 books that Mecca fans have personally recommended if you like Mecca. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Road to Mecca

Mohammed Javed Author Of The Broken Silence

From my list on Islam and the fight against injustice.

Why am I passionate about this?

I do not know about the origins of my passion but hardships did influence me, the values of Islam shaped my personality and infused passion required to speak up against injustices. When I write, I speak my mind and try to put my heart and soul into it and that’s how the passionate story of ‘The Broken Silence’ came into existence. It is composed over a period of 23 years; that speaks up and documents the genocidal sanctions imposed on Iraq that caused the pathetic deaths of about a million innocent children - “This book is a historic documentation of one man’s passionate efforts to do his part to speak truth to power.”

Mohammed's book list on Islam and the fight against injustice

Mohammed Javed Why did Mohammed love this book?

This book combines the exciting travels in the deserts of Arabia with his spiritual journey to uncover the meaning of the faith practiced there. I find immense meaning and wisdom in his words as he explores a faith practiced by more than a quarter of the world’s population!

In one story, an old man explains what it means to pray, and it sunk into me that it is focused on the willing surrender to God, obeying His commands, and bringing peace within us and our destiny.

I admire Asad’s interpretation of 'unhappiness' when he sees unhappy faces while traveling in a subway. On reaching home, he finds an open page from Qur’an that translates to mean, “You are distracted by mutual competition in amassing (worldly benefits), until you reach the graves.” That really struck me. 

By Muhammad Asad,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Part travelogue, part autobiography, "The Road to Mecca" is the compelling story of a Western journalist and adventurer who converted to Islam in the early twentieth century. A spiritual and literary counterpart of Wilfred Thesiger and a contemporary of T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), Muhammad Asad journeyed around the Middle East, Afghanistan and India. This is an account of Asad's adventures in Arabia, his inner awakening, and his relationships with nomads and royalty alike, set in the wake of the First World War. It can be read on many levels: as a eulogy to a lost world, and as…


Book cover of The Siege of Mecca: The Forgotten Uprising in Islam's Holiest Shrine and the Birth of Al Qaeda

Steven A. Cook Author Of The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square

From my list on understanding the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

Steven A. Cook is the Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for the Middle East and Africa studies and director of the International Affairs Fellowship for Tenured International Relations Scholars at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He is a columnist at Foreign Policy magazine and an expert on Arab and Turkish politics as well as U.S. Middle East policy. 

Steven's book list on understanding the Middle East

Steven A. Cook Why did Steven love this book?

The siege of Mecca in 1979 was one of the most consequential events in recent Saudi history. This book reads like a thriller, which makes sense because anyone familiar with Trofimov's work at the Wall Street Journal knows that he is a gifted storyteller and insightful analyst. The book provides context to the worldview that gave rise to al Qaeda.

Book cover of Pilgrims and Sultans: The Hajj Under the Ottomans

Sumanto Al Qurtuby Author Of Saudi Arabia and Indonesian Networks: Migration, Education, and Islam

From my list on Islam, travel, and travelers in Arabia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an American-trained Indonesian anthropologist, teacher, writer, researcher, and academic nomad who has lived and taught at a Saudi university. I have travelled since childhood. When I was a kid or teenager, I journeyed to various places and cities for schooling away from my home village (and parents) in the isolated highlands of Central Java. I also travelled for shepherding my goats which I did after school. So, I love to travel, learn many things from my travel, and as a teacher of Anthropology of Travel, I have always been fascinated by literature on travel whatever its forms ranging from pilgrimage and nomadism to migration and tourism.   

Sumanto's book list on Islam, travel, and travelers in Arabia

Sumanto Al Qurtuby Why did Sumanto love this book?

Concerning the study of the hajj (i.e. Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca), I consider this book is pioneering primarily because it utilizes original sources and documentation left by Ottoman administrators to depict and recreate uneasy experiences of the pilgrims’ everyday life in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries of Arabia. During these centuries, Mecca was under the control and authority of the Ottoman sultans, and the hajj pilgrimage was an extremely tough journey: long, arduous, and fraught with danger. This work has contributed to our understandings of the pilgrims’ conditions and mundane activities and the sultans’ policies of the pilgrimage.  

By Suraiya Faroqhi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The pilgrimage to Mecca - the hajj - is a major aspect of the Islamic religion, yet little has been written about its history or of the conditions under which thousands of pilgrims from far flung regions of the Islamic world travelled to the heart of the Arabian peninsula. This pioneering book concentrates on the pilgrimage in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when Mecca was ruled by the Ottoman sultans. At a time when, for the majority of the faithful, the journey was long, arduous and fraught with danger, the provision of food, water, shelter and protection for pilgrims presented…


Book cover of The Battlefields of the Prophet Muhammad

Mohammed Javed Author Of The Broken Silence

From my list on Islam and the fight against injustice.

Why am I passionate about this?

I do not know about the origins of my passion but hardships did influence me, the values of Islam shaped my personality and infused passion required to speak up against injustices. When I write, I speak my mind and try to put my heart and soul into it and that’s how the passionate story of ‘The Broken Silence’ came into existence. It is composed over a period of 23 years; that speaks up and documents the genocidal sanctions imposed on Iraq that caused the pathetic deaths of about a million innocent children - “This book is a historic documentation of one man’s passionate efforts to do his part to speak truth to power.”

Mohammed's book list on Islam and the fight against injustice

Mohammed Javed Why did Mohammed love this book?

There is an incorrect accusation that Islam is a violent religion. It is not, and this book shows that in the early days of Islam, the Prophet's battles were always defensive in nature and fought for the sake of truth. I think this book shows that Muhammad's (peace be upon him) behavior and conduct as the army commander was extraordinarily humane compared to similar commanders of this time. And it shows that he was the "Prophet of Mercy' not only in life but in war. And for that reason, I recommend this book.

Look at his conquest of Mecca. Mohammad asked his army of 10,000 to burn as many fires as possible when they halted for the night. He wanted to give the impression that his army was huge and convince them to surrender without bloodshed. And when Abu Sufyan, the chief of Meccans, fell into their hands, he…

Book cover of The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker's Guide to Making Travel Sacred

Brandon Wilson Author Of Along the Templar Trail: Seven Million Steps for Peace

From my list on doing a pilgrimage and our search for meaning.

Why am I passionate about this?

Brandon Wilson is an author, photographer, explorer, and pilgrim. He is a voracious explorer of nearly one hundred countries, he has trekked many pilgrimage trails, including: the Camino de Santiago, Camino Catalan, Camino Aragonés and Via de la Plata across Spain, and twice the St. Olav’s Way across Norway and Sweden. Brandon and his wife Cheryl were the first Western couple to complete the 1100-kilometer pilgrim trail from Lhasa, Tibet to Kathmandu, and he was the first American to traverse the 1850-kilometer Via Francigena from England to Rome. In 2006, he and his French friend re-blazed the 4500-kilometer route of the First Crusades from France to Jerusalem, naming it the Templar Trail, to establish it as a path of peace.

Brandon's book list on doing a pilgrimage and our search for meaning

Brandon Wilson Why did Brandon love this book?

For many, travel reaches a point where it becomes something more than a moveable buffet and checks off a bucket-list. The Art of Pilgrimage helps you make this transition and realize you’re not alone. It traces the history of pilgrimage or mindful journeys with stories and anecdotes from past sojourners to a wide variety of locations for equally diverse reasons.

By Phil Cousineau,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Spiritual Traveler's Travel Guide

"A must read before a trip." Escape

"One of the greatest travel books I have ever read." Peter Feibleman, author of Lilly: Reminiscences of Lillian Hellman

#1 Bestseller in Atlases & Maps

The classic guide to making travel meaningful. The Art of Pilgrimage is a travel guide full of inspiration for the spiritual traveler.

Not just for pilgrims. We are descendants of nomads. And although we no longer partake in this nomadic life, the instinct to travel remains. Whether we're planning a trip or buying a secondhand copy of Siddhartha, we're always searching for a…


Book cover of The Conference of the Birds

David Damrosch Author Of Around the World in 80 Books

From my list on imaginary journeys.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a preacher’s kid, and I’ve always had an evangelistic impulse to get other people to love the books I admire, through my teaching at Harvard, through my writing, and simply by pressing books into my friends’ hands. I grew up hearing about my parents’ early years in the Philippines, where my father was an Anglican missionary, and I was always drawn to tales of distant or imagined lands. My literary interests led me to study a dozen ancient and modern languages, and then to learn more about the places where my favorite authors came from, and to study their cultures and history.

David's book list on imaginary journeys

David Damrosch Why did David love this book?

A fascinating counterpoint to Dante’s otherworldly journey is this great Sufi poet’s down-to-earth account of a group of birds who are seeking a leader to put their chaotic lives in order. Attar’s twelfth-century verse novel combines spiritual quest with pointed social satire, as his bird-brained characters keep putting off their journey, held back by earthly attachments: to power, wealth, even to poetry itself. Finally they go, only to find that their wished-for savior is -- themselves. In Attar’s masterpiece, all history, all storytelling, the Holy Qur’an, and even the poem we’re reading become a hall of mirrors in which we see ourselves multiply refracted, guided by the poet who tells us that “he cooks his own heart into verse.”

By Farid Ud-Din Attar, Edward Fitzgerald (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Farid ud-Din Attar was a Persian poet, druggist, and social theorist of Sufism, who wrote much of his poetry while treating hundreds of patients a day with his herbal remedies. As a young man he made a pilgrimage to Mecca, and sought wisdom during his travels in Egypt, Damascus, and India. His masterpiece, “The Conference of the Birds”, has survived centuries because of its captivating poetic style and its symbolic exploration on the true nature of God. This 4500-line poem follows the birds of the world, each of which hold special significance, as they seek out the Simurgh, a mythical…


Book cover of Al-Qushayri's Epistle on Sufism - Al-Risala Al Qushayriyya Fi 'ilm Al-Tasawwuf

Alexander Knysh Author Of Sufism: A New History of Islamic Mysticism

From my list on teaching you how to be a Sufi.

Why am I passionate about this?

My exploration of Sufism began in the unlikely environment of the Soviet Union where Sufism was considered a relic of the past to be replaced by the atheist, world-asserting ideology. The fact that my Muslim academic advisor assigned this topic to me, an active customs officer, was nothing short of a miracle. It was the beginning of a chain of miracles that punctuated my teaching and research career in the USSR, UK, US, EU, and the post-Soviet republics of Eurasia, especially Tatarstan and Kazakhstan. Having observed Sufism in various shapes and forms for over thirty years, my knowledge of its precepts and rituals is of great help to me in everyday life.  

Alexander's book list on teaching you how to be a Sufi

Alexander Knysh Why did Alexander love this book?

Written by the renowned Sunni scholar and Sufi teacher Abu ’l-Qasim al-Qushayri (986–1074) of Khorasan in Eastern Iran, this is probably the most popular Sufi training manual ever. It is still widely used by Sufis today, so you can begin your Sufi journey by reading it. It also serves as a window onto the life of “Sufi friends of God” or “saints,” whom the author depicts as uncrowned kings of this world. We see them in a variety of contexts: suffering from hunger and thirst in the desert during a pilgrimage to Mecca, participating ecstatically or quietly in spiritual concerts, reciting and interpreting the Qur’an, waging war against outward enemies (“infidels”) and their own demonic desires, earning livelihood, meditating in a retreat, praying, working miracles, interacting with the commoners, their family members and peers, dreaming, and dying.

By Abu 'l-Qasim Al-Qushayri, Alexander D. Knysh (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Al-Qushayri's Epistle on Sufism - Al-Risala Al Qushayriyya Fi 'ilm Al-Tasawwuf as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The author of the "Epistle on Sufism, Abu 'l-Qasim al-Qushayri" (376/986-465/1074), was a famous Sunni scholar and mystic (Sufi) from Khurasan in Iran. His Epistle is probably the most popular Sufi manual ever. Written in 437/1045, it has served as a primary textbook for many generations of Sufi novices down to the present. Al-Qushayri has given us an illuminating insight into the everyday lives of Sufi devotees of the eighth-eleventh centuries C.E. and the moral and ethical dilemmas they were facing in trying to strike a delicate balance between their ascetic and mystical convictions and the exigencies of life in…


Book cover of The End of October

Andrew Golizsek Author Of Rivers of the Black Moon

From my list on thrillers about pandemics and medical mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a researcher at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and a college professor who has taught biology and anatomy & physiology, I have a unique insight into the mysteries of the human body and how existing and emerging viruses can wreak havoc on the world’s populations. In light of the COVID pandemic that killed millions and the threat of older and increasingly virulent pathogens, I find it terrifying that viruses could be unleashed that leave us defenseless. Despite all our advances and knowledge, medical mysteries continue to intrigue us and spark our imaginations. We are drawn to them, now more than ever, hoping that the fiction we read about will not become reality.

Andrew's book list on thrillers about pandemics and medical mysteries

Andrew Golizsek Why did Andrew love this book?

From the first chapter, I could not put this book down.

When a lethal and highly transmittable virus turns its victims blue, and the Russians blame America for unleashing a deadly virus, I knew I was about to dive into a true medical thriller. I also thought the timing of this novel was disturbing, reminding me all too well of recent disease outbreaks and then taking me on a journey into a world where plagues and pandemics can easily become commonplace.

To his credit, Lawrence Wright managed to weave science and fiction into a plot that frightened as well as entertained.

By Lawrence Wright,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower—a riveting thriller and “all-too-convincing chronicle of science, espionage, action and speculation” (The Wall Street Journal).

At an internment camp in Indonesia, forty-seven people are pronounced dead with acute hemorrhagic fever. When epidemiologist Henry Parsons travels there on behalf of the World Health Organization to investigate, what he finds will have staggering repercussions. Halfway across the globe, the deputy director of U.S. Homeland Security scrambles to mount a response to the rapidly spreading pandemic leapfrogging around the world, which she believes may be the result of an…


Book cover of Slow Days, Fast Company: The World, The Flesh, and L.A.

Connie Kronlokken Author Of So Are You to My Thoughts

From my list on deepening your understanding of California history.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a transplant to California, albeit more than 50 years ago, I am still fascinated by what makes this place at the edge of the Pacific so unique. It has accepted so many people, from so many places over a fairly recent period. I always feel I can deduce more history from well rendered characters set in specific times and places. Their wholeness and their meaning, as well as that of their culture, are to be found in literature.

Connie's book list on deepening your understanding of California history

Connie Kronlokken Why did Connie love this book?

The juxtaposition of Eve Babitz’s unabashed hedonism and her incisive ability to nail a situation are not what you normally expect.

This book ranges all over southern California of the 1960s and 1970s, always coming back to the place Eve loved best, Los Angeles, a place of “vast sprawls, smog, and luke nights: L.A. It is where I work best, where I can live, oblivious to physical reality.”

When I moved to Los Angeles, I was disposed to love it, but it was hard to find any confirmation in books! I am delighted with Eve Babitz, who, with extravagant and precise language, celebrates the place.

By Eve Babitz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Slow Days, Fast Company as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

No one burned hotter than Eve Babitz. Possessing skin that radiated “its own kind of moral laws,” spectacular teeth, and a figure that was the stuff of legend, she seduced seemingly everyone who was anyone in Los Angeles for a long stretch of the 1960s and ’70s. One man proved elusive, however, and so Babitz did what she did best, she wrote him a book.

Slow Days, Fast Company is a full-fledged and full-bodied evocation of a bygone Southern California that far exceeds its mash-note premise. In ten sun-baked, Santa Ana wind–swept sketches, Babitz re-creates a Los Angeles of movie…


Book cover of The Lemonade Cookbook: Southern California Comfort Food from L.A.'s Favorite Modern Cafeteria

Pamela Ellgen Author Of The I Love Trader Joe's Snack Boards Cookbook: 50 Delicious Recipes for Charcuterie, Spreads, Platters, and More Using Ingredients from the World's Greatest Grocery Store

From my list on cookbooks for entertaining.

Why am I passionate about this?

I didn’t always know I wanted to be a chef and food writer. But I have always known that I loved to prepare and enjoy beautiful food! In college, that meant throwing dinner parties for my friends. This was before Instagram, but I still wanted my food to look pretty and draw a crowd! Fast forward a couple decades. I have worked as a private chef, taught farm-to-table cooking classes, and written more than 27 published cookbooks. My favorite thing about my work is creating inspired meals that bring people together with those they love.

Pamela's book list on cookbooks for entertaining

Pamela Ellgen Why did Pamela love this book?

I’ve dined at the restaurant Lemonade in Venice Beach several times and was thrilled when I discovered they had a cookbook.

LA is defined by exceptionally fresh produce year-round and a diverse culinary scene thanks to immigrants from all over the world. Lemonade reflects that beautifully! I used many of the recipes in this book when cooking for the Patagonia women’s surf team and was thrilled with how much people loved them and how easy they were to scale up to feed a crowd.

Narrowing it down to my favorites was tough, but I can’t get enough of the Avocado, Cherry Tomato, Pine Nut, and Lime Vinaigrette; the Black Kale, Shiitake, and Kumquat Vinaigrette; or the Red Miso Beef. And of course, they have a full lemonade chapter with interesting, virgin concoctions including my favorite, the Green Apple Jalapeno lemonade.

By Alan Jackson, Joann Cianciulli,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Lemonade Cookbook takes the bold flavors, imaginative dishes, and southern California lifestyle that have made the brand an instant hit and captures them in a fresh, beautifully-designed, full-color book. Like Los Angeles, Lemonade's cuisine is carefully blended with variety. L.A. is agents and movie grips, surfers and yoga moms, students and celebrities, and a wide mix of different culinary traditions. At Lemonade the marketplace salads, unique sandwiches, and slow-simmered stews taste as though every culture stirred a bit into the pot―for example, the skirt steak with grilled onions and piquillo peppers with its smoky depth, pairs perfectly with the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Mecca, California, and New York City?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Mecca, California, and New York City.

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