Updated April 10, 2023
Since 2011 there have been tons of books about Syria written – some brilliant, others so so, and even more that are terrible.
To help you sift through it all, i’m compiling a series of reading lists consisting of my best books on Syria - this one is focused on Personal experiences, testimonies and memoirs, and includes 15 titles.
Check it out and share any suggestions you have!
Also, check out these two lists of Top Syria Books:
Top 15 Syria Books: Personal experiences, testimonies and memoirs
Note: My recommendations are based solely on my own reads, preferences and perspectives. Any purchases you make through our links may earn Syrian Memories a small commission which goes towards sustaining this initiative.
We Crossed a Bridge and it Trembled: Voices from Syria by Wendy Pearlman
A powerful collection of first-person testimonies, synthesized from interviewing hundreds of Syrians that illustrates life living under dictatorship, the euphoria of rebellion, fear and trauma of flight and reflections of dreams delayed.
The Book Collectors of Daraya: A Band of Syrian Rebels, Their Underground Library, and the Stories that Carried Them Through a War by Delphine Minoui
Another powerful exploration into life in Daraya under siege. Centered around the hidden library and the stories of the young men who built it in the face of unspeakable brutality. A reminder of how much everyday Syrians have struggled and persevered in spite of everything thrown at them.
Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, edited by by Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen, Nawara Mahfoud
A collection of works from 2011-2013 of over 50 Syrian artists and writers, this book is snapshot of creative resistance that exploded after 2011, but yet sadly represents a time superseded by the trauma of a fractured and decimated nation. Includes works from Samar Yazbek, Hassan Abbass, Robin Yassin-Kassab, Ali Ferzat, and many more brilliant Syrians.
My House in Damascus- An Inside View of the Syrian Crisis by Diana Darke
Part memoir, part real estate restoration odyssey, this work does a wonderful job of catapulting you into the intricacies (and often ludicrous realities) of living, purchasing and restoring a Damascene home in the old city, all against the backdrop of a nation falling apart.
No Knives in the Kitchens of This City: A Novel by Khaled Khalifa
This novel follows characters from a Halabi family and how they evolve under authoritarianism over the course of a few decades, weaving in key themes of shame, rage, grief and the search for meaning within lives filled with oppressed desires.
The Beekeeper of Aleppo: A Novel by Christy Lefteri
This powerful novel so vividly captures the raw reality of being a refugee, overcoming grief and the extraordinary challenges to get to safety and reconnect with loved ones. Utterly haunting and hits close to home on multiple levels.
City of Jasmine by Olga GrjasnowaA heartbreaking novel that follows the story of three Syrians – a doctor, an actor and director – who have to uproot their lives and find a way to survive by escaping to Europe. I wasn't expecting much but was pleasantly surprised by the author's depth and well-researched details representing experiences too many have been facing.
On the reading list - 6 Books on Syria i'm excited to dig into! 👇🏼
The Last Sanctuary in Aleppo by Alaa Aljaleel and Diana Darke
I Was Born Twice: Stories of Syria's Tears by Hasan Almossa
Freedom Hospital: A Syrian Story by Hamid Sulaiman
Breaking Knees: Sixty-three Very Short Stories from Syria by Zakaria Tamer
Did I miss anything? Share any great reads with me!