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This month the Book Voyage reading challenge is taking us to the complex region of the Middle East.
This geographical region of the world, which covers portions of Eastern Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa, has been of great importance in history for thousands of years. Well known for its ancient civilizations, including Ancient Egypt, the Persian Empire, and the Babylonian Empire, it is also home to three of the major world religions – Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Due to its geographic location and cultural and religious diversity, the Middle East has been at the center of many ongoing conflicts.
When many Westerners think of the Middle East today, they likely envision vast deserts and oil reserves, but there’s much more to this varied and culturally rich region.
Some of the borders within this region remain contested and, in creating this list, we are not taking any political positions. Instead, it is our hope that after reading about the Middle East, you will learn about this complex region and find yourself better able to form your own opinions. As we have stated in the past, we hope that, in addition to traveling virtually through the pages of books, the Book Voyage Challenge will also help us all gain a deeper understanding of, and deeper respect for, our fellow humans.
As always, you are welcome to choose any book set in this region that you’d like, but to help get your started we’ve compiled a diverse list of books set throughout the Middle Eastern geo-political region, including books that take place in: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kurdistan (autonomous region of Iraq), Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
PS: You can read all about the Book Voyage challenge, find new book lists each month, and download your free printable map book tracker, with a color-coded map of each region here.
While many of us are accustomed to hearing frequent references to the Middle East in daily news reports, it can be very challenging to truly understand the complex dynamics of religion and politics in these countries. While no one book can possibly carry the weight of explaining everything there is to know about the Middle East, we’ve worked hard to curate a wide variety of books, many written by authors native to this region, that will help you both expand your understanding, and hopefully pique your interest to learn even more.
Our list of books set in the Middle East includes historical fiction, contemporary fiction, memoirs, and travelogues that will shed light on both the challenges and beauty of modern-day life in this corner of the world.
Next up, check out our list of books set in Africa!