97 books like The Bookseller of Kabul

By Åsne Seierstad,

Here are 97 books that The Bookseller of Kabul fans have personally recommended if you like The Bookseller of Kabul. 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 Les Miserables

Stephen Jackley Author Of Just Time: A Journey Through Britain's Fractured Justice System

From my list on the power of redemption.

Who am I?

Having spent a total of 7 years in 12 UK prisons (and 6 in the USA), I encountered so many people from all walks of life who found themselves in custody. What they all generally had in common was a desire to seek betterment – redemption – for even the repeat offenders never hoped to see the inside of another jail again. It can be a soul-destroying, depressing place, often ruthless, but also serves as a forge to draw out the perseverance and will to keep going. After leaving prison, I went on to set up a social enterprise, received a commendation from then Prince Charles, and support the daily operations of a charity (Arkbound). 

Stephen's book list on the power of redemption

Stephen Jackley Why did Stephen love this book?

Another classic, and quite possibly my favorite. It has been dramatised many times, though nothing beats the full novel.

Admittedly with a slow-paced start, the narrative soon grips you with the intensity of its plot and unforgettable characters – most prominent, of course, being the protagonist (Jean Valjean). After serving a long sentence, he then must contend with the prospect of a lifetime of prejudice and discrimination by being an ex-con, but he escapes this and, with the help of a kind bishop, sets himself up under a different name.

Here he transforms into Monseiur Madeleine, a philanthropic businessman who later becomes mayor, before being hunted down by the stern and relentless Javert. If I could name any literary ‘role model’, it would be Jean Valjean.

This dramatic tale has redemption at its very heart, resonating deeply with me, and what makes it even more fascinating is the fact it’s…

By Victor Hugo, Lee Fahnestock (translator), Norman Macafee (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NOW A SIX-PART MINISERIES ON MASTERPIECE ON PBS

The only completely unabridged paperback edition of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece—a sweeping tale of love, loss, valor, and passion.

Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean—the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread—Les Misérables ranks among the greatest novels of all time. In it, Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them to the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose.

Within his dramatic story…


Book cover of The Kite Runner

Ram Gidoomal Author Of My Silk Road: The Adventures & Struggles of a British Asian Refugee

From my list on refugees, inclusion, diversity and equality.

Who am I?

As a refugee myself, I was attracted to read about the lives and experiences of other refugees, not merely those from my own community or background, but especially those from other backgrounds–which is probably reflected in the books that I’ve chosen for my list.

Ram's book list on refugees, inclusion, diversity and equality

Ram Gidoomal Why did Ram love this book?

I found myself involved with the characters and came to care for them. Moreover, I was struck by the author's desire to inspire readers to encourage discussion of Afghanistan and so keep the nation in the wider public consciousness.

The book certainly did that for me and is unforgettable, even though I read it over 20 years ago! It brought me alive and helped me understand issues facing those in Afghanistan and in my own community of Sindhis from my country of origin, Pakistan (formerly British India when my family had to flee following the partition of British India in 1947).

By Khaled Hosseini,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Afghanistan, 1975: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return to Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him: redemption.


Book cover of The Sewing Circles of Herat: A Personal Voyage Through Afghanistan

Grant Lock Author Of Shoot Me First: A Cattleman in Taliban Country. Twenty-Four Years in the Hotspots of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

From my list on Afghanistan and life in the land of the Taliban.

Who am I?

To stop us from reopening a school for girls, a mob of angry and well-armed Pashtun men threatened to shoot my workers. I surprised myself. “If you are going to shoot my workmen, you will have to shoot me first!” My wife, Janna, and I bred cattle in outback Australia. On the weekends we played tennis. Yet, in 1984 we began a twenty-four-year adventure battling corruption, injustice, and disadvantage in the deserts, mountains, and cities of Pakistan and Afghanistan. I dug wells, built schools, and helped restore the eyesight of thousands of Afghans; until I myself became blind.

Grant's book list on Afghanistan and life in the land of the Taliban

Grant Lock Why did Grant love this book?

The three Pashtun virtues are hospitality, honor, and revenge. Pashtun hospitality epitomizes human warmth and generosity but Pashtun honor and revenge make a chilling and toxic cocktail. Christina Lamb gives a human face to the destruction wrought by the then unknown ultraconservative political and religious faction led by the one-eyed cleric, Mohammad Omar. Lamb was there before and after the tragedy. A great read. Will history repeat itself?

By Christina Lamb,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Lamb’s long experience as a journalist is a solid stage upon which to build the story of her voyage through Afghanistan, told with a deep, loving honesty.” — Montreal Gazette (Canada)

A brilliant British war correspondent who has spent ten years in Afghanistan gives a first hand report on the war and its genesis.

Award-winning journalist Christina Lamb chronicles the human stories behind the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Lamb spent the last phase of the Soviet War in Pakistan, relying on her friendship with exiled Afghans to smuggle her in and out of Jalalabad. Many of these friends…


Book cover of Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001

Hugh Wilford Author Of America's Great Game: The CIA's Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East

From my list on history about the CIA.

Who am I?

I'm a British-born American historian, currently residing in Long Beach, California. I’ve published three books on the CIA, lectured about it for the Great Courses, and am now writing The CIA: An Imperial History for Basic Books, due to appear in 2023. Why spies? I’ve always loved spy novels and movies but my historical interest was piqued years ago when I stumbled across the weird story of how the CIA secretly funded various American artists and writers in the so-called Cultural Cold War. Decades on, I’m still fascinated by the subject: there’s so much human drama involved, and it’s a great lens through which to examine recent American and world history.

Hugh's book list on history about the CIA

Hugh Wilford Why did Hugh love this book?

Taking the story from the endgame of the Cold War to the dawn of the War on Terror is this extraordinary book on the rise of Islamist terrorism and the CIA’s efforts to defeat it prior to 9/11. Coll’s research, based on interviews with a vast range of senior officials, is dazzling, yet it never overwhelms a narrative that combines human interest and geopolitical sweep seamlessly. No less impressive is his accomplishment in documenting not just the U.S. and Afghan perspectives but the Saudi and Pakistani as well, all in the same painstaking detail. If this whets the appetite for more of the same, Coll’s Directorate S resumes his account of the intelligence wars in Afghanistan, providing necessary background to understanding the failure of the U.S. occupation there.

By Steve Coll,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Ghost Wars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize

The explosive, New York Times bestselling first-hand account of America's secret history in Afghanistan

Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll has spent years reporting from the Middle East, accessed previously classified government files and interviewed senior US officials and foreign spymasters. Here he gives the full inside story of the CIA's covert funding of an Islamic jihad against Soviet forces in Afghanistan, explores how this sowed the seeds of bn Laden's rise, traces how he built his global network and brings to life the dramatic battles within the US government over national security. Above all, he…


Book cover of Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42

Grant Lock Author Of Shoot Me First: A Cattleman in Taliban Country. Twenty-Four Years in the Hotspots of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

From my list on Afghanistan and life in the land of the Taliban.

Who am I?

To stop us from reopening a school for girls, a mob of angry and well-armed Pashtun men threatened to shoot my workers. I surprised myself. “If you are going to shoot my workmen, you will have to shoot me first!” My wife, Janna, and I bred cattle in outback Australia. On the weekends we played tennis. Yet, in 1984 we began a twenty-four-year adventure battling corruption, injustice, and disadvantage in the deserts, mountains, and cities of Pakistan and Afghanistan. I dug wells, built schools, and helped restore the eyesight of thousands of Afghans; until I myself became blind.

Grant's book list on Afghanistan and life in the land of the Taliban

Grant Lock Why did Grant love this book?

Did the British learn anything from Napoleon’s fatal retreat from Moscow in 1812? Exactly three decades later the greatest debacle in British military history occurred in Afghanistan, the graveyard of conquerors. William Dalrymple serves up a satisfying slice of history, complete with spies, counter-espionage, intrigue, hubris, and folly, and provides context for the emergence of the Taliban. The wise will heed the timeless saying, “The only time Pashtuns stop fighting, is when they go to war.”

By William Dalrymple,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE 2013

'Dazzling' Sunday Times
'Magnificent' Guardian
'Sparkling' Daily Telegraph

In the spring of 1839, Britain invaded Afghanistan for the first time. Nearly 20,000 British and East India Company troops poured through the high mountain passes and re-established on the throne Shah Shuja ul-Mulk.

On the way in, the British faced little resistance. But after two years of occupation, the Afghan people rose in answer to the call for jihad and the country exploded into violent rebellion. The First Anglo-Afghan War ended in Britain's greatest military humiliation of the nineteenth century: an entire army of…


Book cover of Hamlet

George Kinder Author Of Life Planning for You: How to Design & Deliver the Life of Your Dreams

From my list on influences of the financial life planning movement.

Who am I?

I never wanted to have anything to do with money. I wanted to live a life of meaning in nature, of poetry, of spirit, and of relationship. The problem was that I couldn’t get anyone to pay me for it. My relationship with money from the very beginning was how can I accumulate it and manage it so I could deliver this life of freedom to myself in the shortest amount of time possible. In short, how could I “life plan” myself. I am the founder and thought leader of the life planning movement in financial advice now active in 30 cultures around the world with thousands of life planning practitioners. 

George's book list on influences of the financial life planning movement

George Kinder Why did George love this book?

Hamlet is the story of a child of inherited wealth, a trust fund baby. Hamlet’s money was taken from him by his uncle who killed his father and married his mother.

It's complicated psychologically, but it's the story of someone trying to come into adulthood, which is what life planning really is. How do you become the person you're really meant to be? Hamlet was trying to figure out how to claim his place in a very complex and corrupt world.

There are many soliloquies about finding one's voice and becoming who one's meant to be. That's the essence of life planning. Shakespeare wrote many such tales, including another tale about an estate plan gone bad, which I love, called King Lear. 

By William Shakespeare,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The Mona Lisa of literature' T. S. Eliot

In Shakespeare's verbally dazzling and eternally enigmatic exploration of conscience, madness and the nature of humanity, a young prince meets his father's ghost in the middle of the night, who accuses his own brother - now married to his widow - of murdering him. The prince devises a scheme to test the truth of the ghost's accusation, feigning wild insanity while plotting revenge. But his actions soon begin to wreak havoc on innocent and guilty alike.

Used and Recommended by the National Theatre

General Editor Stanley Wells
Edited by T. J. B.…


Book cover of The Places in Between

Stephen Haddelsey Author Of Shackleton's Dream: Fuchs, Hillary and the Crossing of Antarctica

From my list on forgotten expeditions and extraordinary journeys.

Who am I?

Although I’m fascinated by the history of exploration, I’m most attracted to the stories that have been lost, neglected, or forgotten. Why, for instance, is Sir Vivian Fuchs – arguably the most successful British Antarctic explorer of the twentieth century – not as well-known as Scott or Shackleton? Why do we know so little of Operation Tabarin – the only wartime Antarctic expedition to be launched by a combatant nation? These are the kind of questions that I want to answer, and these are the expeditions that I have wanted to examine. I’ve been fortunate to meet and interview some truly extraordinary men – and telling their stories has been a joy and a privilege.  

Stephen's book list on forgotten expeditions and extraordinary journeys

Stephen Haddelsey Why did Stephen love this book?

In January 2002, less than four months after 9/11 and three since the US invasion of Afghanistan, Rory Stewart set out to walk from Herat to Kabul. In the preface, he states, "I’m not good at explaining why," and he never really answers that question – but the book that resulted from that decision has become a classic in the author’s lifetime. I’m lucky enough to own a rare first edition – rare because it was produced inexpensively and in small numbers by Picador, who clearly expected it to attract little attention. They were wrong: it became an international best-seller and multi-award winner – deservedly so. As well as being packed with detail about the war-torn land through which he travelled and the people he met en route, it is also a deeply spiritual account – moving, troubling, and uplifting in equal measure. 

By Rory Stewart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Places in Between as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

In 2001 Rory Stewart set off from Herat to walk to Kabul via the mountains of Ghor in central Afghanistan. This was to be the last leg of a 21 month walk across Asia. The country was in turmoil following the recent US invasion and the mountain passes still covered in snow. Suspicious of his motives, and worried for his safety, the authorities provided Rory with two armed guards who accompanied him, but whom he soon out-walked. Later he was given a dog, whom he named 'Babur' in honour of the great Moghul Emperor in whose footsteps the two of…


Book cover of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

ACF Bookens Author Of Publishable By Death

From my list on mysteries about books.

Who am I?

I’m a book lover from in utero. My mom was an avid and very fast reader, and I grew up finding respite, insight, and understanding in the pages of books. When I went to college, I studied English, and then got a Masters in literature before going on to learn more about writing the books I loved in an MFA program. This formal education just built on what I already knew – books are my first love, my guide through life, and often, the things that save me from the darkest moments of this world.

ACF's book list on mysteries about books

ACF Bookens Why did ACF love this book?

This book has everything – a charming bookshop with an even more charming and mysterious owner. A secret society. An every-person type who gets drawn into a strange and dangerous world of bookish legacy. The book is twisty and cryptic while also being absolutely accessible and fascinating, and I want to now read everything Robin Sloan has ever written.  

By Robin Sloan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life—mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There…


Book cover of Camino Island

Rosemary Kubli Author Of Gullible

From my list on crime novels about good people who do bad things.

Who am I?

Mystery and crime novels have always been my favorite genre. I love the suspense and intrigue, the intricate storylines, and the clever plot twists. In middle school, while my friends were reading more age-appropriate books, I was reading The Godfather and The Spy Who Came In from the Cold. Is it any wonder then that Siena Ricci, the main character of my debut novel Gullible, is a shrewd and cunning female con artist? I had so much fun developing Siena’s story arc and creating the criminal world she inhabits that I decided to continue her narrative in a sequel, with plans for a third novel to round out the trilogy. 

Rosemary's book list on crime novels about good people who do bad things

Rosemary Kubli Why did Rosemary love this book?

I’ll devour any novel by Grisham, and I love that he took a departure from his standard legal thrillers to pen a story about the theft of rare books and the man suspected of selling them on the black market.

The hook is Mercer Mann, the young novelist who’s not only suffering from writer’s block but she’s also just been canned from her job. How can Mercer possibly turn down the mysterious woman who offers her a hefty fee to work undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s illegal operation? 

Grisham’s flawless storytelling had me looking at the world through Mercer Mann’s eyes and pondering what choice I would have made if I were in her shoes.

By John Grisham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

***The Sunday Times 'Thriller of the Month', Mail on Sunday 'Thriller of the Week' and Sun 'Best for Mystery-Lovers'***

Someone is about to make a killing

The most daring and devastating heist in literary history targets a high security vault located deep beneath Princeton University.

Valued at $25 million (though some would say priceless) the five manuscripts of F Scott Fitzgerald's only novels are amongst the most valuable in the world. After an initial flurry of arrests, both they and the ruthless gang of thieves who took them have vanished without trace.

Now it falls to struggling writer Mercer Mann…


Book cover of Succubus Blues

Alexa Sullivan Author Of I Dream of Demigods

From my list on upbeat paranormal romances.

Who am I?

I’m a lifelong reader who cut my teeth on Narnia and Nancy Drew. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a later-in-life revelation, combining the fantasy and mystery elements I’d loved in childhood with a butt-kicking heroine and plenty of romance. I’m always seeking that same blend of humor and action in the paranormal romances I read, as well as the ones I write. It can be tough to find paranormal romances that aren’t deeply intense and moody, so I hope this list will help you enjoy the lighter side of paranormal.

Alexa's book list on upbeat paranormal romances

Alexa Sullivan Why did Alexa love this book?

Succubus Blues was my gateway into paranormal romance. A modern-day succubus who works in a bookstore and is crushing on an author? Sign me up. I adored the independent heroine, and having lived in Seattle, I couldn’t resist the setting. Most importantly, the collision of the supernatural and mundane worlds, and the emotional-but-not-brooding romance, inspired my own journey as a writer. In my opinion, this is Richelle Mead at her best. Blaze through this one over a cup of artisan coffee.

By Richelle Mead,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this fun urban fantasy, a lovelorn succubus keeps the peace in Seattle’s demon underground when she’s not working at a local bookstore.

When it comes to jobs in hell, being a succubus seems pretty glamorous. A girl can be anything she wants, the wardrobe is killer, and mortal men will do anything just for a touch. Granted, they often pay with their souls, but why get technical?

But Seattle succubus Georgina Kincaid's life is far less exotic. At least there’s her day job at a local bookstore—free books; all the white chocolate mochas she can drink; and easy access…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in bookstores, Afghanistan, and the Taliban?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about bookstores, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.

Bookstores Explore 30 books about bookstores
Afghanistan Explore 77 books about Afghanistan
The Taliban Explore 21 books about the Taliban