The most recommended books about Palestinians

Who picked these books? Meet our 36 experts.

36 authors created a book list connected to Palestinians, and here are their favorite Palestinian books.
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Book cover of Mornings in Jenin

Helen Benedict Author Of The Good Deed

From my list on honest novels about being a refugee.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a novelist and journalist who has been writing about war and refugees for nearly two decades. In 2018, I went to the Greek island of Samos, which held one of the most inhumane refugee camps in Europe, to talk to people there about their lives and hopes. Out of this, I wrote several articles and later two books, including The Good Deed. My hope is to counteract the demonization of refugees, so rife in the world today, by bringing out all that we humans have in common, such as our need for shelter, food, family, safety, and love. 

Helen's book list on honest novels about being a refugee

Helen Benedict Why did Helen love this book?

I listened to this book because I wanted to understand more about the history and people of Palestine as the 2023-24 war between Israel and Hamas was escalating to ever more deadly heights.

Abulhawa is a renowned Palestinian author, and this book was an international bestseller back in 2010, but I knew nothing of it at the time. I found the novel, a family saga stretching several generations from 1941 to 2022, so immediate, eye-opening, and moving that it was as if I were reading about the current war in real-time.

I loved it so much that I bought the actual book to keep forever. 

By Susan Abulhawa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A heart-wrenching, powerfully written novel that does for Palestine what The Kite Runner did for Afghanistan.

Mornings in Jenin is a multi-generational story about a Palestinian family. Forcibly removed from the olive-farming village of Ein Hod by the newly formed state of Israel in 1948, the Abulhejos are displaced to live in canvas tents in the Jenin refugee camp. We follow the Abulhejo family as they live through a half century of violent history. Amidst the loss and fear, hatred and pain, as their tents are replaced by more forebodingly permanent cinderblock huts, there is always the waiting, waiting to…

Book cover of Mural

Julie Salamon Author Of An Innocent Bystander: The Killing of Leon Klinghoffer

From my list on the Israeli Palestinian Conflict.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my working life as a journalist, author and storyteller, aiming to uncover complexity that sheds new light on stories we think we know. I got my training at the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times—and from the wonderful editors of my twelve books. An Innocent Bystander, my book that deals with the Middle East, began as the story of a hijacking and a murder of an American citizen. But as my research widened, I came to see this story couldn’t be told without understanding many perspectives, including the Israeli and the Palestinian, nor could the political be disentangled from the personal.

Julie's book list on the Israeli Palestinian Conflict

Julie Salamon Why did Julie love this book?

This collection of poetry by a revered Palestinian poet illuminates his people’s emotional and historic connection to the land that is now the state of Israel.

His poems, many of which were set to music, are credited with solidifying a Palestinian national consciousness. His family was displaced from their home by the Israeli army; when they returned, they lived as second-class citizens.

The work achingly describes an abiding sense of love and loss.

By Mahmoud Darwish (lead author), John Berger (illustrator), Rema Hammami (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

Book cover of These Olive Trees

Timothy Kleyn Author Of Grilled Cheese? Yes, Please!

From my list on food-centered picture books.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up, my family was a meat and potatoes family. The food was good but it was never really about the food. It was about eating together. When I got older, I ventured beyond the world of meat and potatoes, made more friends to eat with, and learned more and more to enjoy the little things in life. My two books are about food but also not really. They're community books. Family books. Adventure books. Same thing with the 5 books on my list. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Timothy's book list on food-centered picture books

Timothy Kleyn Why did Timothy love this book?

This is a powerful and beautiful book that captures the strength and culture of the Palestinian people. Some books feel like they must exist, and this is one of them.

I feel like food is such a great theme because you can really tackle heavy or tough subjects with it. This book does a good job of not sugarcoating that heaviness but being real about it and presenting it by using a focus of the olive trees and what that means to Palestinians. It takes skill to do that.

I really appreciate this book and it should be in every home.

By Aya Ghanameh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked These Olive Trees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

The story of a Palestinian family’s ties to the land, and how one young girl finds a way to care for her home, even as she says goodbye.

It’s 1967 in Nablus, Palestine.

Oraib loves the olive trees that grow outside the refugee camp where she lives. Each harvest, she and her mama pick the small fruits and she eagerly stomp stomp stomps on them to release their golden oil. Olives have always tied her family to the land, as Oraib learns from the stories Mama tells of a home before war.

But war has come to their door once…

Book cover of Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom

David Stansfield Author Of The Making of a Suicide Bomber

From my list on understanding the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

From a young age, I have been obsessed with the Arabic language and culture. In 1959, I studied this language at Durham University, graduating Summa Cum Laude – including living with a Palestinian family in Jerusalem for a number of months. Then moving on to further studies in Arabic at Cambridge University, graduating with a First Class Honors degree. Over the next decades, I have made many trips to the Middle East, working on a number of projects, including stints in North Africa, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jerusalem, Kuwait, and the Persian Gulf. Most recently, I served as the Arabic consultant on the Netflix TV series House of Cards.

David's book list on understanding the Middle East

David Stansfield Why did David love this book?

Finkelstein is the son of holocaust survivors and explains so meticulously how terribly Israel has treated the people of Gaza since occupying it in 1967. Two-thirds of its two million Palestinian inhabitants are refugees, and more than half its population is under 18. Israel has not only systematically destroyed the Gazan economy turning into “the world’s largest open-air prison camp,” But it has launched no fewer than nine military operations against Gaza – including Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and Operation Protective Edge in 2014 with its latest bout of savage bombing all but destroying the place altogether.

By Norman Finkelstein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"In its comprehensive sweep, deep probing and acute critical analysis, Finkelstein's study stands alone."-Noam Chomsky

"No one who ventures an opinion on Gaza . . . is entitled to do so without taking into account the evidence in this book."
-The Intercept

The Gaza Strip is among the most densely populated places in the world. More than two-thirds of its inhabitants are refugees, and more than half are under eighteen years of age. Since 2004, Israel has launched eight devastating "operations" against Gaza's largely defenseless population. Thousands have perished, and tens of thousands have been left homeless. In the meantime,…

Book cover of Palestine

Nic Watts Author Of Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History

From my list on political graphic novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have worked as an illustrator and visual storyteller throughout my adult life, illustrating children’s fiction books and comics for educational publications. My educational work focused on publications for kids with special needs, this gave me training in how to communicate visually, very clearly and concisely. I now collaborate with my partner Sakina Karimjee making beautiful graphic novels full-time. Toussaint Louverture is our first; we are now working on our second.

Nic's book list on political graphic novels

Nic Watts Why did Nic love this book?

Joe Saccos’ work has had such an impression on me.

In 1991-1992, Sacco spent two months in the occupied territories, collecting stories for this masterpiece of journalism and comics. He was breaking new ground; Comics Journalism as a form did not really exist before this book.

On the ground, Sacco found that as a cartoonist, he could delve deeper into the experiences of the Palestinians he interviewed; all knew their identities were safe as the book would be drawn, with no identifying photos, no names. Their stories and pain pour forth. 

Looking back on this publication thirty years later, the situation has become far, far worse for Palestinians. This book is an excellent primer to understand the atrocities of the present and the context of their past.

By Joe Sacco,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In late l991 and early 1992, at the time of the first Intifada, Joe Sacco spent two months with the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, travelling and taking notes. Upon returning to the United States he started writing and drawing Palestine, which combines the techniques of eyewitness reportage with the medium of comic-book storytelling to explore this complex, emotionally weighty situation. He captures the heart of the Palestinian experience in image after unforgettable image, with great insight and remarkable humour.

The nine-issue comics series won a l996 American Book Award. It is now published for the first…

Book cover of The Israel/Palestine Reader

Michael Reimer Author Of The First Zionist Congress: An Annotated Translation of the Proceedings

From my list on history of modern Israel Arab-Israeli conflict.

Why am I passionate about this?

I completed my Ph.D. in history at Georgetown University in 1989 and have taught courses on the modern Middle East at the American University in Cairo since 1990. Since the early 2000s, I’ve been teaching a popular course on the history of Zionism. In developing the curriculum for my students, I searched for an English translation of the proceedings of the First Zionist Congress, held in Basel in 1897, a crucial moment in Jewish/Zionist history. When I discovered no such translation existed, I decided to do one myself. It was fascinating work, and the translation was published in 2019.

Michael's book list on history of modern Israel Arab-Israeli conflict

Michael Reimer Why did Michael love this book?

I was excited to discover Dowty’s anthology because I appreciated his translation/publication of certain Hebrew texts from two early Zionists, i.e., Ahad Ha’am and Yitzhak Epstein. As indicated by the title, this volume, while representing Jewish and Arab voices going back to the 1800s, foregrounds the contradictory viewpoints of, specifically, Israelis and Palestinians and brings the story of the conflict of these two ethnonational groups down to about 2015.

Since my students are mostly political science majors, they are aware that a major debate at present is whether Israel/Palestine should be one state or two. The last section of the Dowty book contains texts that advocate for a "one-state solution" vs. others that propose a "two-state solution."

By Alan Dowty (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Introduction to any complex international conflict is enriched when the voices of the adversaries are heard. The Israel/Palestine Reader is an innovative collection, focused on the human dimension of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian confrontation. Its vivid and illuminating readings present the voices of the diverse parties through personal testimonies and analyses. Key leaders, literary figures, prominent analysts, and simply close observers of different phases of this protracted conflict are all represented-in their own words.

From Mark Twain to Theodor Herzl, Gamal Abdul Nasser, Golda Meir, Anwar Sadat, Ezer Weizman, Ehud Barak, Marwan Barghouti, Mahmoud Abbas, Benjamin Netanyahu, John Kerry, and dozens…

Book cover of Sabra Zoo

Selma Dabbagh Author Of Out Of It

From my list on being Palestinian.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father is Palestinian, my mother English. I am a typical diaspora Palestinian, having moved many times. I’m intrigued by what this highly politicized nationality–being Palestinian–does to peoples’ emotions, their desire to be accepted and thrive, their sense of community, their ability to deal with the challenges and joys of political engagement as well as the difficulties of not being political if they choose not to be. Being Palestinian is an extreme case of what humans can be forced to endure as political and social animals. Living under military occupation gives rise to huge sacrifices and pure heroism in the most quotidian way. Acts that deserve recognition.

Selma's book list on being Palestinian

Selma Dabbagh Why did Selma love this book?

What I love in Hiller’s writing is the no-glory honesty of growing up in settings of omniscient violence where the last wish of the protagonists is to be heroic. They are vulnerable young men trying to get by, to do the right thing, to find calm.

This book and its sister book, Shake Off, are some of the finest works of fiction set during political conflict and war that I have read. Hiller’s gracious enough as to refrain from indulging in the gratuitous or the showy, but these are finely crafted thrillers. They are both equally gripping, taking the reader through worlds rarely seen by English language readers.

By Mischa Hiller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It is the summer of 1982 and Beirut is under siege. Eighteen-year-old Ivan's parents have just been evacuated from the city with other members of the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Ivan stays on, interpreting for international medical volunteers in Sabra refugee camp by day, getting stoned with them by night, and working undercover for the PLO. Hoping to get closer to Eli, a Norwegian physiotherapist, he helps her treat Youssef, a camp orphan disabled by a cluster bomb. An unexpected friendship develops between the three and things begin to look up - But events take a nasty turn when the president-elect…

Book cover of Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence on U.S. Middle East Policy

Randall Fowler Author Of More Than a Doctrine: The Eisenhower Era in the Middle East

From my list on American (mis)adventures in the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a Communication professor at Fresno Pacific University and former Fulbright grantee to Jordan. Growing up in west Texas I was always fascinated with other countries. I encountered Arabic in college, and I quickly fell in love with a language and society that reminded me so much of my home—in fact, the word “haboob” is used by Texas farmers and Bedouin herders alike to describe a violent dust storm. While I was teaching English in Amman, I realized how much I enjoy learning how different cultures come to understand one another. My driving passion is to explore the centuries-long rhetorical history tying Americans and Middle Easterners together in mutual webs of (mis)representation, and this topic has never been more relevant than today.

Randall's book list on American (mis)adventures in the Middle East

Randall Fowler Why did Randall love this book?

The Arab-Israeli conflict can be bewildering for many Americans to wrap their head around. While there are a number of excellent books on the topic, I find Perceptions of Palestine to be a helpful, engaging diagnosis of the issue from a U.S. diplomatic perspective. Christison, a former CIA officer, provides an exhaustively researched and well-informed answer to the question of why the United States tends to favor Israel over the Palestinians in the realms of public opinion and policymaking. This account is both sensitive to the struggles of the Palestinian people while also recognizing the real-world limitations of American policymakers. No matter one’s position on this issue, Christion’s book provides a welcome analysis of the tensions at play in conflicts over Israel-Palestine.

By Kathleen Christison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For most of the twentieth century, considered opinion in the United States regarding Palestine has favored the inherent right of Jews to exist in the Holy Land. That Palestinians, as a native population, could claim the same right has been largely ignored. Kathleen Christison's controversial new book shows how the endurance of such assumptions, along with America's singular focus on Israel and general ignorance of the Palestinian point of view, has impeded a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Christison begins with the derogatory images of Arabs purveyed by Western travelers to the Middle East in the nineteenth century, including Mark…

Book cover of The Parisian

Rosalind Brackenbury Author Of The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier

From my list on set in France with themes to match.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by these themes – love, France, mystery, women’s lives, war, and peace. My parents took me to France when I was 12 and I’ve spent years there in between and go back whenever I can. I started reading in French when sent to be an au pair in Switzerland when I was 17. My own novel, The Lost Love Letters Of Henri Fournier was absorbing to write as it contains all of the above. I found an unpublished novel of Fournier’s in a village in rural France a few years ago and decided I had to write about him and his lover, Pauline, who was a famous French actress. 

Rosalind's book list on set in France with themes to match

Rosalind Brackenbury Why did Rosalind love this book?

This is a recent first novel, set mostly in France, about a young Palestinian man who goes there to study medicine and falls in love with the daughter of his host. I’m still reading it, and admiring the sureness of touch, the knowledge of history, and above all the sense of the period – it’s set before World War 1 and continues through the 20th century. Brava, Isabella Hammad!

By Isabella Hammad,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A sublime reading experience: delicate, restrained, surpassingly intelligent, uncommonly poised and truly beautiful' Zadie Smith


Midhat Kamal - dreamer, romantic, aesthete - leaves Palestine in 1914 to study medicine in France, under the tutelage of Dr Molineu. He falls deeply in love with Jeannette, the doctor's daughter. But Midhat soon discovers that everything is fragile: love turns to loss, friends become enemies and everyone is looking for a place to belong.

Through Midhat's eyes we see the tangled politics and personal tragedies of a turbulent era - the Palestinian struggle for independence, the…

Book cover of We Could Have Been Friends, My Father and I: A Palestinian Memoir

Rebecca Gould Author Of Erasing Palestine: Free Speech and Palestinian Freedom

From my list on Palestinian liberation.

Why am I passionate about this?

The year I spent in Palestine from 2011 to 2012 was the first time in my life that I encountered racism firsthand. Growing up in America, I was aware of my country’s racist history and I knew that my country’s history was indelibly marked by prejudice. But in Palestine I witnessed racism in action. It reminded me of segregation in the American South. Every aspect of daily life in Israel and in the territories it occupied is segregated: buses, roads, lines waiting to pass through checkpoints. After I witnessed a Palestinian man being refused entry into an Israeli tourist site simply because he was Palestinian, I knew this was a book I had to write.

Rebecca's book list on Palestinian liberation

Rebecca Gould Why did Rebecca love this book?

Raja Shehadeh is the author of many important books on Palestine.

He has a unique ability to interweave the personal into the political in his writing. That talent shines through in this recent book, a memoir about his relationship to his father, an influential attorney and defender of Palestinian rights who was murdered outside his home in Ramallah in 1985. In telling the story of this relationship, which was marked by mutual misunderstanding and unarticulated love, Shehadeh also tells a story about the history of the Palestine people.

He shows how the conflicts and displacements inflicted on Palestinians have torn apart millions of lives and destroyed the human connections that many of us take for granted.

By Raja Shehadeh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Could Have Been Friends, My Father and I as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A subtle psychological portrait of the author’s relationship with his father during the twentieth-century battle for Palestinian human rights.

Aziz Shehadeh was many things: lawyer, activist, and political detainee, he was also the father of bestselling author and activist Raja. In this new and searingly personal memoir, Raja Shehadeh unpicks the snags and complexities of their relationship.

A vocal and fearless opponent, Aziz resists under the British mandatory period, then under Jordan, and, finally, under Israel. As a young man, Raja fails to recognize his father’s courage and, in turn, his father does not appreciate Raja’s own efforts in campaigning…