In a couple of days we will be flying to Jordan to hike the 650-kilometer Jordan Trail. Priority before visiting a country: Reading books and buying books to read during our trip in that particular country, in this case Jordan. What a joy!

Jordan Guidebooks & Phrasebooks

Insight Guides sent us a photo-rich Jordan Guidebook as well as an Arabic Phrasebook and Dictionary.

I can now count in Arabic, and say the essential stuff such as hello, goodbye, thank you, and ask where the toilet is 🙂

I love the sound of the language and am eager to learn more.

But apart from guidebooks I am always searching for other books on the country I’m about to visit. Here’s my list for Jordan, books I have read or will be reading on the trail that give insight into Jordan’s and/or the Middle East’s history, culture, and society.

Memoirs

Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life, by Queen Noor

Written by King Hussein’s fourth wife, Queen Noor (Lisa Najeeb Halaby) talks about her life with the king in the 1970s-1999, which provides insights into Jordan’s turbulent years.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom, by T.E. Lawrence

Probably better known through the film Lawrence of Arabia, this biography details Lawrence’s experiences during the Arab Revolt of 1916–18, when he was based in Wadi Rum as a member of the British Forces of North Africa. With the support of Emir Faisal and his tribesmen, he helped organize and carry out attacks on the Ottoman forces.

Arabian Sands, by Wilfred Thesiger

A British explorer and travel writer, Thesiger was born in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) and educated in England. In the spirit of T.E. Lawrence, Thesiger spent five years exploring and wandering the deserts of Arabia.

The Desert and the Sown; Travels in Palestine and Syria, by Gertrude Bell

Early 20th century, the British writer, archaeologist, and political analyst traveled to Persia and felt drawn to the Arabian world. This book traces Bell’s 1905 sojourn through Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine. It’s an inspiring portrait of a woman who overcame the barriers of her generation, as well as a piece of history that offers insight into current events in the Middle East.

On my list is the movie Queen of the Desert (2016), which is based on this book.

The Land Beyond: Thousand Miles on food through the Middle East, by Leon McCannon

From Jerusalem, the Northern Irish writer and film-maker followed a series of hiking trails, among which through Jordan, that trace ancient trading and pilgrimage routes and traverse some of the most contested landscapes in the world.

Travels in Syria and the Holy Land, by J.L. Burckhardt

John Lewis Burckhardt (1784-1817) was an explorer of the Middle East who traveled widely in disguise as a Muslim. This work gives a view of Arabian life and manners and includes his account of his ‘rediscovery’ of the ancient city of Petra.

Other bucks by Burckhardt

Non-Fiction

The story of the Scrolls: the miraculous discovery and true significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls, by Geza Vermes

Geza Vermes is the world’s leading Dead Sea Scrolls scholar, who translated the scrolls into English. In this book he relates the controversial story of their discovery and publication, revealing cover-ups, blunders and academic in-fighting, but also the passion and dedication of many of those involved.

Petra: The History of the Rose City, One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, by Charles River Editors

This book looks at the history of Petra from prehistoric times to the end of the Crusades, as well as the city’s ‘rediscovery’ in the 19th century and how it has entered the world’s imagination since then.

Fiction

The Source, by James Michener

While focused on the origin and history of Israel, the territory of what now is Jordan is part of this history, e.g. through its shared biblical history. One of my favorite historical sagas by Michener.

The Haj, by Leon Uris

Centers around Palestina, this story splendidly narrates the tale of the Middle East, of competing rulers often held back by ancient tradition.

On my Wish List

Unable to buy for my Kindle and unable to buy as second-hand paperbacks on Amazon (international shipping doesn’t work?), I hope to find these books in Jordan (or somewhere else).

Three novels (trilogy,) by Abdulrahman Munif:

Which leaves me the question:

What book (or movie) on Jordan do you think we should add to our list? Please share in the comment section below. Thanks!

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3 thoughts on “Books about Jordan

  1. Very valuable information, it is not at all blogs that we find this, congratulations I was looking for something like that and found it here.

  2. “Arabian Sands”, by Wilfred Thesiger is a wonderful book. He also wrote “Marsh Arabs” about the people who lived in reed houses in the marshes of Iraq. I believe much of the marsh habitat was destroyed by a recent leader.
    Thanks for posting the list of books. I’m reading “On the Trail of Genghis Khan.” Interesting story, but I must say the author doesn’t come across as someone I’d want to meet. Now, on the other hand, you two are people who it would be nice to meet. Your writing and photos make the reader feel like they are riding along in the back seat. Or at least on the roof rack.

    • Thanks. Glad you like the list. I read the genghis trail book too – fascinating journey with such detailrd background info. I will add Marsh Arabs on my list. Thanks for that!

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