100 books like We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled

By Wendy Pearlman,

Here are 100 books that We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled fans have personally recommended if you like We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled. 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 Origins: A Memoir

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?

I read Maalouf's book many years ago and it remains one of the best books I have ever read about identity. It helps that he is a gifted writer and that Maalouf's story is so compelling.

By Amin Maalouf,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Origins, by the world-renowned writer Amin Maalouf, is a sprawling, hemisphere-spanning intergenerational saga.

Set during the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth, in the mountains of Lebanon and in Havana, Cuba, Origins recounts the family history of the generation of Maalouf's paternal grandfather, Boutros. Why did Boutros, a poet and educator in Lebanon, travel across the globe to rescue his younger brother, Gebrayel, who had settled in Havana?

Maalouf is an energetic and amiable narrator, illuminating the more obscure corners of late Ottoman nationalism, the psychology of Lebanese sectarianism, and the dynamics of…


Book cover of Arabian Love Poems

Sam Dagher Author Of Assad or We Burn the Country: How One Family's Lust for Power Destroyed Syria

From my list on people of the Levant region.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sam Dagher is a Lebanese-American journalist and author with more than 15 years of experience reporting on the Middle East and its people. He has lived in Baghdad, Beirut, and Damascus and worked throughout the region. Sam has been committed to telling the region’s stories from the ground up and in the process shedding new light on the root causes of war, extremism, and migration.

Sam's book list on people of the Levant region

Sam Dagher Why did Sam love this book?

Damascus-born Nizar Qabbani, a lawyer by training, abandoned a career in diplomacy in the late 1960s to become one of the Arab world’s most beloved poets. Both his sensual and political poems carry seeds of defiance, rebellion and a quest for liberation from autocratic institutions and rigid social norms. This edition reproduces Qabbani’s own handwritten text of the selected poems.

By Nizar Qabbani, Bassam K. Frangieh, Clementina R. Brown

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This translation of Nizar Kabbani's poetry is accompanied by the striking Arabic texts of the poems, penned by Kabbani especially for this collection. Kabbani was a poet of great simplicity - direct, spontaneous, musical, using the language of everyday life. He was a ceasless campaigner for women's rights, and his verses praise the beauty of the female body, and of love. He was an Arab nationalist, yet he criticized Arab dictators and the lack of freedom in the Arab world.


Book cover of The Shell: Memoirs of a Hidden Observer

Sam Dagher Author Of Assad or We Burn the Country: How One Family's Lust for Power Destroyed Syria

From my list on people of the Levant region.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sam Dagher is a Lebanese-American journalist and author with more than 15 years of experience reporting on the Middle East and its people. He has lived in Baghdad, Beirut, and Damascus and worked throughout the region. Sam has been committed to telling the region’s stories from the ground up and in the process shedding new light on the root causes of war, extremism, and migration.

Sam's book list on people of the Levant region

Sam Dagher Why did Sam love this book?

The Shell is a peek into both the horrors and absurdities of totalitarian regimes told in the form of a prison diary kept by the author. Khalifa, a Christian by birth and an atheist, was mistaken (or perhaps not, given what I learned about the Assad regime in the course of my work) for a radical Islamist, arrested and locked up in the notorious Tadmor desert prison, more accurately a death camp. The book reveals the horrific consequences of the logic and methods of the Assad family and other dictators in the Middle East and beyond: Anyone suspected of harboring a hint of opposition to the ruler will be labeled a terrorist and traitor, crushed and turned into an example to instill fear in the wider population.

By Paul Starkey, Moustafa Khalifa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The work of a moder-day Sozhenitsyn that exposes acts of violence and brutality committed by the Syrian regime. This compelling first novel is the astonishing story of a Syrian political prisoner of conscience—an atheist mistaken for a radical Islamist—who was locked up for 13 years without trial in one of the most notorious prisons in the Middle East. The novel takes the form of a diary which Musa keeps in his head and then writes down upon his release. In Tadmur prison, the mood is naturally bleak and yet often very beautifully captured. The narrator, a young graduate, is defiant…


Book cover of A Woman Is No Man

Sam Dagher Author Of Assad or We Burn the Country: How One Family's Lust for Power Destroyed Syria

From my list on people of the Levant region.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sam Dagher is a Lebanese-American journalist and author with more than 15 years of experience reporting on the Middle East and its people. He has lived in Baghdad, Beirut, and Damascus and worked throughout the region. Sam has been committed to telling the region’s stories from the ground up and in the process shedding new light on the root causes of war, extremism, and migration.

Sam's book list on people of the Levant region

Sam Dagher Why did Sam love this book?

In a 2019 interview with NPR, Etaf Rum—the daughter of Palestinian immigrants who was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York—said one of her struggles in writing the book was the fear that she was in a way confirming stereotypes about Arabs and Middle Easterners, including “oppression, domestic abuse, and terrorism.” Thankfully Rum overcame these struggles to deliver a courageous, beautiful, and incredibly authentic debut novel that follows the lives of three generations of Palestinian-American women trying to find their voices and identities within the confines of patriarchal and conservative milieus. In a way, the struggles of Rum and her characters mirror the battles that young people throughout the Middle East have been waging against tyranny and oppression since the start of the Arab Spring in 2010.

By Etaf Rum,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Woman Is No Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A The Millions Most Anticipated Book of 2019

"Sometimes heroism is loud and dramatic. Other times, it is daring to listen to that quiet voice within and having the courage to follow it. In this story, we see inside the lives of three generations of Palestinian women living in America, struggling and suffering to hear that voice. Etaf Rum has done a great service by sharing these voices with us." -Shilpi Somaya Gowda, New York Times Bestselling Author of SECRET DAUGHTER and THE GOLDEN SON

Three generations of Palestinian-American women living in Brooklyn are torn between individual desire and the…


Book cover of Escape from Aleppo

Alyssa Hollingsworth Author Of The Eleventh Trade

From my list on refugees.

Why am I passionate about this?

My sister worked for nine years teaching women in Afghanistan, and the Taliban tried to kill her for it—several times. Back in 2011, I was able to visit her in-country and I fell in love with the kind, brave people and their scarred, stubborn nation. But when my sister was eventually forced to return home, she was not the sister who had left. Refugees told me similar stories; stories about memories that wouldn’t stay quiet even though they were safe. I couldn’t help wondering: How do you rebuild a life after losing everything? My debut book, The Eleventh Trade, became the place I wrestled with that question. 

Alyssa's book list on refugees

Alyssa Hollingsworth Why did Alyssa love this book?

When bombs fall on Nadia’s home, she’s separated from her family in the middle of a war. Over the course of a few short, dangerous days, she has to find a way through her destroyed city to her parents. With startling detail, N.H. Senzai captures the frenzy and peril of Nadia’s situation. 

N.H. Senzai also writes wonderful books about Afghan refugees, like Shooting Kabul, but I personally found Escape from Aleppo her best work so far. I read it all in a gulp, and came out with a deeper understanding of what even a tiny slice of the refugee experience can look like.

By N.H. Senzai,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Escape from Aleppo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

"Filled with kindness and hope...Heartbreaking...Necessary." -Booklist (starred review)

Nadia's family is forced to flee their home in Aleppo, Syria, when the Arab Spring sparks a civil war in this timely, "harrowing" (Publishers Weekly) coming-of-age novel from award-winning author N.H. Senzai.

Silver and gold balloons. A birthday cake covered in pink roses. A new dress.

Nadia stands at the center of attention in her parents' elegant dining room. This is the best day of my life, she thinks. Everyone is about to sing "Happy Birthday," when her uncle calls from the living room, "Baba, brothers, you need to see this." Reluctantly,…


Book cover of The Revolution Is for the Children: The Politics of Childhood in Havana and Miami, 1959-1962

Rachel Hynson Author Of Laboring for the State: Women, Family, and Work in Revolutionary Cuba, 1959–1971

From my list on defying the narrative of early revolutionary Cuba.

Why am I passionate about this?

As the eldest daughter raised in an Evangelical home in rural Pennsylvania, I was immersed in normative, Anglo notions of gender and the family. I built on this embodied experience to cultivate expertise in discourse about the family and labor in early revolutionary Cuba. Perhaps surprisingly, the celebration of patriarchy, monogamy, and heterosexuality that bracketed my youth was also an important element of Cuban revolutionary discourse of the 1960s—albeit within a very different context. I received my PhD in Latin American and Caribbean History from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Dartmouth College. I am now an independent scholar.

Rachel's book list on defying the narrative of early revolutionary Cuba

Rachel Hynson Why did Rachel love this book?

In her book, Casavantes Bradford reveals the centrality of children to Cuban national projects during the first four years of the Revolution. The book chronicles how the exile community and the revolutionary government both harnessed the discourse of childhood and actual children in service to divergent political goals. The Revolution Is for the Children is provocative not just because it is the first to identify children as historical actors in twentieth-century Cuba but also because it lays the foundation for future scholarship on family and migration in Cuban history.  

By Anita Casavantes Bradford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Revolution Is for the Children as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since 1959, the Cuban revolutionary government has proudly proclaimed that ""the revolution is for the children."" Many Cuban Americans reject this claim, asserting that they chose exile in the United States to protect their children from the evils of ""Castro-communism."" Anita Casavantes Bradford's analysis of the pivotal years between the Revolution's triumph and the 1962 Missile Crisis uncovers how and when children were first pressed into political service by ideologically opposed Cuban communities on both sides of the Florida Straits.

Casavantes Bradford argues that, in Havana, the Castro government deployed a morally charged ""politics of childhood"" to steer a nationalist…


Book cover of Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey

Hollis Kurman Author Of Counting Kindness: Ten Ways to Welcome Refugee Children

From my list on sparking conversations about refugees.

Why am I passionate about this?

The refugee story is deeply rooted in my family, as my (great-/) grandparents fled Europe for a safer life in America. I grew up listening to their stories of escape and trying to integrate in their new land. Human rights were also a focus of my graduate studies – and later in founding the Human Rights Watch Committee NL and joining the Save the Children Board of Trustees. I am a writer and poet, Board member, and former strategy consultant who always wanted to write refugee stories for children. Their stories are difficult. But children should understand that although the world is not always safe or fair, there is always hope.

Hollis' book list on sparking conversations about refugees

Hollis Kurman Why did Hollis love this book?

Although this picture book is a bit dark and bleak for very young readers, Stepping Stones is a uniquely beautiful depiction of the refugee’s journey. The illustrations were inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr. Stones, like trees, appear to have an ancient power to tell difficult stories like no other. I love that this book focuses not only on the hardships and horrors, but also on the beauties and rituals of the life and culture left behind. So many children will have known only conflict in their short lives, and it is important that they – and the rest of us, too – learn that there was so much more, before. The story is poetically told in both English and Arabic.

By Margriet Ruurs, Nizar Ali Badr (illustrator), Falah Raheem (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stepping Stones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

Rama and her family, are forced to flee their once-peaceful village to escape the ravages of the civil war raging ever closer to their home

With only what they can carry on their backs, Rama and her mother, father, grandfather and brother, Sami, set out to walk to freedom in Europe. This unique picture book was inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, discovered by chance by Canadian children’s writer Margriet Ruurs. The author was immediately impressed by the strong narrative quality of Mr. Badr’s work, and, using many of Mr. Badr’s already-created pieces, she set…


Book cover of The Boy at the Back of the Class

Lisa Thompson Author Of The Light Jar

From my list on that make you feel things.

Why am I passionate about this?

My biggest aim as a writer is for my reader to feel something. It could be on a page where they are fighting back the tears or at the end of a chapter where they are gasping at an unexpected plot twist. I think we can sometimes forget how powerful children’s books can be – yes, they can make you cry, laugh, gasp and feel scared! Here are some of my favorites that will make you have all the feelings.

Lisa's book list on that make you feel things

Lisa Thompson Why did Lisa love this book?

Nine-year-old Ahmet, a Syrian refugee, has arrived in Mrs. Khan’s classroom after fleeing the horrors of war. One of the things that is so striking about this book is how the children in the story have far more understanding than most adults. It is both funny and heartfelt and is a masterclass in teaching empathy – for the young and the old.

By Onjali Q. Raúf,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Boy at the Back of the Class as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

A World Book Day 2020 Author

WINNER OF THE BLUE PETER BOOK AWARD 2019
WINNER OF THE WATERSTONES CHILDREN'S BOOK PRIZE 2019
SHORTLISTED FOR THE JHALAK PRIZE 2019

Told with heart and humour, The Boy at the Back of the Class is a child's perspective on the refugee crisis, highlighting the importance of friendship and kindness in a world that doesn't always make sense.

There used to be an empty chair at the back of my class, but now a new boy called Ahmet is sitting in it.

He's nine years old (just like me), but he's very strange. He…


Book cover of Boy, Everywhere

Katharine Orton Author Of Nevertell

From my list on to take you on a truly epic journey.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been drawn to epic journeys. From Jules Verne’s stories exploring the lengths, depths, and breadths of the known world, to little hobbits trekking across vast fantasy scapes in order to steal from dragons, something about the huge proportions of these grand adventures has always drawn me in. Perhaps it was no wonder, then, that my first book Nevertell was set in Siberia: a place so big that its sheer size tested the limits of my imaginings. If you, too, are drawn to sprawling, epic journeys, then these five fabulous recommendations are for you.

Katharine's book list on to take you on a truly epic journey

Katharine Orton Why did Katharine love this book?

Some books get a lot of praise, and some books truly deserve it. Boy, Everywhere is one of those books. Not only does it follow an epic journey across vast distances that’s fraught with danger and strife, it also follows a child going from a life he loves in Damascus to new and challenging beginnings in England. What’s so astounding about Sami’s journey is that it could so easily be real – and for many, it is. This book will take you on a journey of understanding and empathy, as well as across continents.

By A.M. Dassu,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Boy, Everywhere as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

This debut middle-grade novel chronicles the harrowing journey taken by Sami and his family from privilege to poverty, across countries and continents, from a comfortable life in Damascus, via a smuggler's den in Turkey, to a prison in Manchester. A story of survival, of family, of bravery ... In a world where we are told to see refugees as the 'other', this story will remind readers that 'they' are also 'us'.


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.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in refugees, Syria, and the Levant?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about refugees, Syria, and the Levant.

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