The best books about Iran 📚

Browse the best books on Iran as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Daughter of Persia: A Woman's Journey from Her Father's Harem Through the Islamic Revolution

Daughter of Persia: A Woman's Journey from Her Father's Harem Through the Islamic Revolution

By Sattareh Farman Farmaian, Dona Munker

Why this book?

An astounding 20th century life-story told with honesty and warmth by one of Iran’s most impressive and pioneering women. From growing up as part of her father’s harem before setting sail for the USA during WWII to attend university, then returning to Iran to create a national social care system and finally, the unbearable tragedy of her life’s work being destroyed by the Islamic regime, this is an inspiring but heartbreaking story of bravery and humanity at its best.

From the list:

The best books to understand modern Iran

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Book cover of City of Lies: Love, Sex, Death, and the Search for Truth in Tehran

City of Lies: Love, Sex, Death, and the Search for Truth in Tehran

By Ramita Navai

Why this book?

British-Iranian journalist, Ramita Navai shines a spotlight on 21st century Tehran that we rarely see in the mainstream press, delving into the city’s youth culture, illicit entertainment, and seedy underbelly of drugs and despair. City of Lies exposes the reality of how young, modern Iranians really live - constantly evading the authorities to seek out the pleasures they are denied under the regime.

From the list:

The best books to understand modern Iran

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Book cover of Censoring an Iranian Love Story

Censoring an Iranian Love Story

By Shahriar Mandanipour, Sara Khalili

Why this book?

Against the backdrop of an unlucky courtship between two young students in today’s Tehran, this entertaining novel uses humour to ridicule the myopic mentality of contemporary Iran’s religious leadership that wishes to see itself as cultured and intellectual.

From the list:

The best books on Iranian history and culture

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Book cover of The Blind Owl

The Blind Owl

By Sadegh Hedayat, Naveed Noori

Why this book?

Written in the 1930’s, this is considered to be the first great modern novel in Persian. A haunting, nightmarish narrative where hallucination becomes indistinguishable from reality, it is something of an Iranian mix between Edgar Allan Poe and Bret Easton Ellis.

From the list:

The best books on Iranian history and culture

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Book cover of Comprehensive History of the Jews of Iran: The Outset of the Diaspora

Comprehensive History of the Jews of Iran: The Outset of the Diaspora

By Habib Levy, Hooshang Ebrami, George W. Maschke

Why this book?

This book is the first comprehensive source on the history of the Jews of Iran, which, considering the vastness of the Persian Empire during ancient times, must be reckoned second only to Israel in importance, yet it is also the most obscure, because little of it has been published. The Comprehensive History of the Jews of Iran, where the Jews have been living for over 2700 years, not only describes the history of Jews in ancient Iran (Persia), but covers all periods, particularly the 19th and 20th centuries.

From the list:

The best books & novels on Persian history: its people, myths, religions, and culture

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Book cover of The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran

The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran

By Hooman Majd

Why this book?

The grandson of an eminent ayatollah and the son of an Iranian diplomat, Hooman Majd offers perspective on Iran's complex and misunderstood culture through an insightful tour of Iranian culture, introducing fascinating characters from all walks of life, including zealous government officials, tough female cab drivers, and open-minded, reformist ayatollahs. It's an Iran that will surprise readers and challenge Western stereotypes.

From the list:

The best books & novels on Persian history: its people, myths, religions, and culture

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