100 books like Tears of Salt

By Pietro Bartolo, Lidia Tilotta,

Here are 100 books that Tears of Salt fans have personally recommended if you like Tears of Salt. 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 Humanity at Sea: Maritime Migration and the Foundations of International Law

Robert F. Barsky Author Of Clamouring for Legal Protection: What the Great Books Teach Us about People Fleeing from Persecution

From my list on to help us harness the ‘classics’ to address crises.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have taught a broad array of humanities and social sciences courses over the years, sometimes employing case studies from the realm of law, most notably stories about undocumented migrants, refugees, or homeless people. I’ve also had occasion to teach in law schools, usually in ways that bridge the gap between the legality of forced displacement, and the lived experiences of those who have done it. I won a Rockefeller Foundation grant to write my newest book, Clamouring for Legal Protection, in which I considered the idea that we can learn a lot about refugees and vulnerable migrants with references to people we know well: Ulysses, Dante, Satan, and even Alice in Wonderland.

Robert's book list on to help us harness the ‘classics’ to address crises

Robert F. Barsky Why did Robert love this book?

This book addresses the well-known issue of refugees who are attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea in order to gain refugee status in Europe, but it does so by adding historical detail that helps us to understand the legal issues pertaining to their flight. Mann links these overloaded vessels filled with desperate peoples to the actions of Jewish migrants to Palestine after WWII, Vietnamese 'boatpeople', Haitian refugees seeking to reach Florida, Middle Eastern migrants and refugees bound to Australia, and Syrian refugees currently crossing the Mediterranean, and then legal responses by states and international organizations to these movements. Along the way, he also helps us to understand the value of reading works by twentieth-century thinkers such as Hannah Arendt and Emmanuel Levinas, and other legal materials to form a rich account of an issue of increasing global concern.

By Itamar Mann,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This interdisciplinary study engages law, history, and political theory in a first attempt to crystallize the lessons the global 'refugee crisis' can teach us about the nature of international law. It connects the dots between the actions of Jewish migrants to Palestine after WWII, Vietnamese 'boatpeople', Haitian refugees seeking to reach Florida, Middle Eastern migrants and refugees bound to Australia, and Syrian refugees currently crossing the Mediterranean, and then legal responses by states and international organizations to these movements. Through its account of maritime migration, the book proposes a theory of human rights modelled around an encounter between individuals in…


Book cover of Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation

Robert F. Barsky Author Of Clamouring for Legal Protection: What the Great Books Teach Us about People Fleeing from Persecution

From my list on to help us harness the ‘classics’ to address crises.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have taught a broad array of humanities and social sciences courses over the years, sometimes employing case studies from the realm of law, most notably stories about undocumented migrants, refugees, or homeless people. I’ve also had occasion to teach in law schools, usually in ways that bridge the gap between the legality of forced displacement, and the lived experiences of those who have done it. I won a Rockefeller Foundation grant to write my newest book, Clamouring for Legal Protection, in which I considered the idea that we can learn a lot about refugees and vulnerable migrants with references to people we know well: Ulysses, Dante, Satan, and even Alice in Wonderland.

Robert's book list on to help us harness the ‘classics’ to address crises

Robert F. Barsky Why did Robert love this book?

This book assesses the value of liberal education, and the importance of (re) reading the so-called ‘classics,’ rather than resorting to short snippets of articles, YouTube videos, or chapters which make short and pointed arguments about specific issues. The great classics have changed Roosevelt Montás’s life in ways that are to me familiar, since I’ve enjoyed watching the fruits of liberal education as they transformed his life of my own students over the years.

By Roosevelt Montás,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Dominican-born academic tells the story of how the Great Books transformed his life-and why they have the power to speak to people of all backgrounds

What is the value of a liberal education? Traditionally characterized by a rigorous engagement with the classics of Western thought and literature, this approach to education is all but extinct in American universities, replaced by flexible distribution requirements and ever-narrower academic specialization. Many academics attack the very idea of a Western canon as chauvinistic, while the general public increasingly doubts the value of the humanities. In Rescuing Socrates, Dominican-born American academic Roosevelt Montas tells…


Book cover of The Lives of Literature: Reading, Teaching, Knowing

Robert F. Barsky Author Of Clamouring for Legal Protection: What the Great Books Teach Us about People Fleeing from Persecution

From my list on to help us harness the ‘classics’ to address crises.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have taught a broad array of humanities and social sciences courses over the years, sometimes employing case studies from the realm of law, most notably stories about undocumented migrants, refugees, or homeless people. I’ve also had occasion to teach in law schools, usually in ways that bridge the gap between the legality of forced displacement, and the lived experiences of those who have done it. I won a Rockefeller Foundation grant to write my newest book, Clamouring for Legal Protection, in which I considered the idea that we can learn a lot about refugees and vulnerable migrants with references to people we know well: Ulysses, Dante, Satan, and even Alice in Wonderland.

Robert's book list on to help us harness the ‘classics’ to address crises

Robert F. Barsky Why did Robert love this book?

Weinstein takes the age-old question – what is literature? – and transforms it into why we (would want to) read literature. For him, literature changes us, allows us to be someone else, and provides us insight into the world we inhabit, and many more worlds we haven’t. He reads a broad array of works, from Sophocles to James Joyce and Toni Morrison, and thinks about such issues as identification, empathy, and sympathy with those we come to ‘know’ through our reading.

By Arnold Weinstein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Mixing passion and humor, a personal work of literary criticism that demonstrates how the greatest books illuminate our lives

Why do we read literature? For Arnold Weinstein, the answer is clear: literature allows us to become someone else. Literature changes us by giving us intimate access to an astonishing variety of other lives, experiences, and places across the ages. Reflecting on a lifetime of reading, teaching, and writing, The Lives of Literature explores, with passion, humor, and whirring intellect, a professor's life, the thrills and traps of teaching, and, most of all, the power of literature to lead us to…


Book cover of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life

Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman Author Of Girls with Bright Futures

From my list on college admissions mania.

Why are we passionate about this?

When each of our older boys were in the midst of the college admissions process, our husbands suffered life-threatening health crises. It was such a bizarre coincidence that we both experienced intense brushes with mortality during this time of high anxiety. The juxtaposition between health and college admissions gave us a unique perspective and led us to explore the impacts of college admissions anxiety on families, friendships, students, and school communities. We had entirely plotted Girls With Bright Futures and were nearly through the first draft when the Operation Varsity Blues college admissions scandal broke in March 2019. We felt like the headlines had been ripped from our manuscript!

Tracy's book list on college admissions mania

Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman Why did Tracy love this book?

When we set out on our writing journey to understand the impacts of college admissions anxiety on families, friendships, students, and school communities, Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life, by William Deresiewicz, was one of the most insightful books we read. Deresiewicz does an outstanding job of tracing the history of the college admissions industrial complex, including the fascinating story behind the US News & World Report rankings, as well as the impact of airline deregulation and the break-up of Ma Bell on college admissions. If you’re trying to make sense of college admissions mania, this book is a great starting point.

By William Deresiewicz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As a professor at Yale, William Deresiewicz saw something that troubled him deeply. His students, some of the nation's brightest minds, were adrift when it came to the big questions: how to think critically and creatively and how to find a sense of purpose. Now he argues that elite colleges are turning out conformists without a compass.

Excellent Sheep takes a sharp look at the high-pressure conveyor belt that begins with parents and counsellors who demand perfect grades and culminates in the skewed applications Deresiewicz saw first-hand as a member of Yale's admissions committee. As schools shift focus from the…


Book cover of The New Odyssey: The Story of the Twenty-First Century Refugee Crisis

Nell Gabiam Author Of The Politics of Suffering: Syria's Palestinian Refugee Camps

From my list on refugees in or from the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

I developed an interest in the Middle East after taking a class on the Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East and North Africa as an undergraduate student. I later lived and worked in Kuwait for two years and traveled extensively across the Middle East, including to Syria, a country whose hospitality, history, and cultural richness left an indelible impression on me. During subsequent travel to Syria, I became acquainted with the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, in Damascus. This camp, which physically blended into its surroundings while retaining its Palestinian-ness, ignited my desire to better understand Palestinian refugee identity and the political claims at the heart of this identity. 

Nell's book list on refugees in or from the Middle East

Nell Gabiam Why did Nell love this book?

Kingsley’s The New Odyssey is a journalistic account of what became known during the 2015-2016 period as “Europe’s Refugee Crisis.” It brings a human face to the million or so refugees— a significant number of whom were from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq— who sought asylum in Europe by way of various irregular Mediterranean routes. By embedding himself with the refugees at the center of his book, Kingsley gives an intimate portrait of the reasons Europe became a destination for these refugees and of the violence and hardships they are subjected to at the hands of an unwelcoming Europe. The New Odyssey also provides an in-depth and nuanced portrait of the smugglers who, while by no means idealized in the book, are an easy scapegoat in European attempts to deflect responsibility for the suffering and death of migrants taking the irregular Mediterranean routes. Kingsley’s narrative balances a broad overview of the…

By Patrick Kingsley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On the day of his son's fourteenth birthday, Hashem al-Souki lay somewhere in the Mediterranean, crammed in a wooden dinghy. His family was relatively safe-at least for the time being-in Egypt, where they had only just settled after fleeing their war-torn Damascus home three years prior. Traversing these unforgiving waters and the treacherous terrain that would follow was worth the slim chance of securing a safe home for his children in Sweden. If he failed, at least he would fail alone.

Hashem's story is tragically common, as desperate victims continue to embark on deadly journeys in search of freedom. Tracking…


Book cover of Syrian Women Refugees: Personal Accounts of Transition

Nell Gabiam Author Of The Politics of Suffering: Syria's Palestinian Refugee Camps

From my list on refugees in or from the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

I developed an interest in the Middle East after taking a class on the Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East and North Africa as an undergraduate student. I later lived and worked in Kuwait for two years and traveled extensively across the Middle East, including to Syria, a country whose hospitality, history, and cultural richness left an indelible impression on me. During subsequent travel to Syria, I became acquainted with the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, in Damascus. This camp, which physically blended into its surroundings while retaining its Palestinian-ness, ignited my desire to better understand Palestinian refugee identity and the political claims at the heart of this identity. 

Nell's book list on refugees in or from the Middle East

Nell Gabiam Why did Nell love this book?

Syrian Women Refugees is a good complement to the other books on this list because the stories that make up the book move beyond the violence, trauma, and suffering that the reader might expect from a book on refugees displaced by war. The book reads more like a story of nine Syrian women, who also happen to have been displaced by the Syrian war and to have become refugees. The women’s narratives take us into their childhood, their everyday life in pre-war Syria, and their experiences adapting to their new host countries. Through these women’s stories, which focus on topics like religion, family life, and gender dynamics, the reader gets rich cultural insight into life in Syria as well as in the host country. The reader also gets insight into the women’s own self-understanding and the extent to which war and forced displacement have impacted this understanding.

Because the broader…

By Ozlem Ezer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Based on original interviews, this book relates the experiences of nine Syrian women refugees and their perspectives on a range of subjects. Each narrative reveals a displaced woman's concept of the self in relation to memory, history, trauma and reconciliation within familial, international and cultural contexts. Their stories contribute to building bonds and promoting trust between locals and "strangers" who are often defined only by their status as refugees, and serve as a timely reminder that we too can become refugees through a sudden turn of events.


Book cover of Threads: From the Refugee Crisis

César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández Author Of Migrating to Prison: America's Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants

From my list on turning immigration policies into human stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an immigration legal scholar and lawyer, I read about immigration a lot. From laws that seem written to confuse to articles in academic journals written for an audience of experts, I’m lucky to love what I do—and so I enjoy most of what I read. But these books are special. They drew me in and wouldn’t let go until the last page. Whether fiction or non-fiction, they are written by storytellers who bring laws and policies to life.

César's book list on turning immigration policies into human stories

César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández Why did César love this book?

In Calais, France, on Europe’s northern edge, migrants from across the Middle East and Africa settled, hopeful that they would eventually make it across the English Channel.

While they waited, they built lives, relationships, and the ramshackle edifices that poverty permits—the ingredients of communities. Only to be attacked, sometimes by neighbors, other times by police. In this graphic novel, Evans brings Europe’s refugees to life in their humor, hope, and despair.

By Kate Evans,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

**LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE FOR BOOKS 2018**

In the French port town of Calais, famous for its historic lace industry, a city within a city arose. This new town, known as the Jungle, was home to thousands of refugees, mainly from the Middle East and Africa, all hoping, somehow, to get to the UK. Into this squalid shantytown of shipping containers and tents, full of rats and trash and devoid of toilets and safety, the artist Kate Evans brought a sketchbook and an open mind. Combining the techniques of eyewitness reportage with the medium of comic-book storytelling, Evans has…


Book cover of Rescue: Refugees and the Political Crisis of Our Time

Nell Gabiam Author Of The Politics of Suffering: Syria's Palestinian Refugee Camps

From my list on refugees in or from the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

I developed an interest in the Middle East after taking a class on the Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East and North Africa as an undergraduate student. I later lived and worked in Kuwait for two years and traveled extensively across the Middle East, including to Syria, a country whose hospitality, history, and cultural richness left an indelible impression on me. During subsequent travel to Syria, I became acquainted with the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, in Damascus. This camp, which physically blended into its surroundings while retaining its Palestinian-ness, ignited my desire to better understand Palestinian refugee identity and the political claims at the heart of this identity. 

Nell's book list on refugees in or from the Middle East

Nell Gabiam Why did Nell love this book?

This is another book that addresses Europe’s 2015-2016 “refugee crisis.” While Miliband also offers some insights into the experience of refugees seeking asylum in Europe, the focus of his book is on how current European policy betrays the values at the core of Europe’s recent history and self-understanding. Miliband weaves analysis of the predicament of mostly Middle Eastern and African refugees attempting to reach Europe through irregular Mediterranean routes with reflection on his parents’ experience as Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany and seeking protection in England in the 1940s. The strength of Rescue is that it provides the reader with multiple frames of reference for thinking about what ought to be Europe’s response toward contemporary refugees, a significant number of whom are Muslims from the Middle East. 

By David Miliband,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

We are in the midst of a global refugee crisis. Sixty five million people are fleeing for their lives. The choices are urgent, not just for them but for all of us. What can we possibly do to help?

With compassion and clarity, David Miliband shows why we should care and how we can make a difference. He takes us from war zones in the Middle East to peaceful suburbs in America to explain the crisis and show what can be done, not just by governments with the power to change policy but by citizens with the urge to change…


Book cover of The Leopard

Anika Scott Author Of Sinners of Starlight City

From my list on sparking an obsession with Sicily.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a traveler and a dreamer ever since I was a little girl. I used to write to the tourism bureaus of different countries and tape pictures of faraway places onto the walls of my bedroom. It’s no surprise I ended up living in Europe, my home base for excursions all over the world. My historical fiction always features places that mean a lot to me, whether it’s Germany (where I live now), or Sicily – where my mother’s family came from. Digging into my Sicilian heritage and the culture and life of the island for my third novel was like discovering a new home.

Anika's book list on sparking an obsession with Sicily

Anika Scott Why did Anika love this book?

This is the novel to read if you want to submerge yourself in Sicily’s culture and history.

I read it during a visit to Italy, and was sucked right into this tale of an aristocratic Sicilian family decaying in the 19th century in the time of Garibaldi’s revolution. I really despised the patriarch Don Fabrizio, and was still fascinated by the choices he had to make to keep his family status in turbulent times.

Once you finish the book, check out the 1963 film starring Burt Lancaster and Alain Delon.

By Giuseppe Di Lampedusa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Leopard is a modern classic which tells the spellbinding story of a decadent, dying Sicilian aristocracy threatened by the approaching forces of democracy and revolution.

'There is a great feeling of opulence, decay, love and death about it' Rick Stein

In the spring of 1860, Fabrizio, the charismatic Prince of Salina, still rules over thousands of acres and hundreds of people, including his own numerous family, in mingled splendour and squalor. Then comes Garibaldi's landing in Sicily and the Prince must decide whether to resist the forces of change or come to terms with them.

'Every once in a…


Book cover of Lampedusa

Eddy Boudel Tan Author Of After Elias

From my list on books set on atmospheric islands.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write strange, emotional novels from my book-filled apartment in Vancouver, a short walk from the ocean. This may be why I’m obsessed with islands. Or perhaps it’s because they evoke the feeling of being apart from the world, adrift, of protecting something rare. Whatever the reason, my novel takes place on an uncanny island off the coast of Mexico, where the locals drink tea in the afternoon and pray to skeletons hidden in caves. The story that unfolds on this island could not have taken place on the mainland, and I believe the same goes for the books on my list. 

Eddy's book list on books set on atmospheric islands

Eddy Boudel Tan Why did Eddy love this book?

Steven Price creates a vision of crumbling palaces and waning tradition in this lush novel, and it’s a joy to lose oneself in its wistful poetry.

Set in post-WWII Sicily, this is the true story of an island’s last prince who is desperate to leave a legacy in a world that has already forgotten him. Every page is heavy with loss and longing—I found myself mourning a world that no longer existed, the decadent realm of Italian aristocrats that was shattered by the war, even though I didn’t identify with anything that world stood for. What I could understand, though, was the prince’s desire to create something beautiful among the waste, something that would outlive him. 

By Steven Price,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Like Colm Tóibín’s The Master or Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, a novel about art and writing in the life of one of the greats

Set in a sun-drenched Sicily, among the decadent Italian aristocracy of the late 1950s, Steven Price’s Lampedusa explores the final years of Giuseppe Tomasi, the last prince of Lampedusa, as he struggles to complete his only novel, The Leopard.

In 1955, Tomasi was diagnosed with advanced emphysema; shortly after, he began work on a novel that would fail to be published before his death four years later. When The Leopard at last appeared, it won Italy’s…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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