Reading list inspiration for travel
Books & eBooks
- Faces of Love: Hafez and the Poets of ShirazView on Amazon A diverse collection of some of the best poems by these world-renowned authors, it shows us the spiritual and secular aspects of love, in varieties embracing every aspect of the human heart. By Jahan Malek Khatun and Obayd-e Zakani; translated by Dick Davis.
- Persepolis: The Story of a ChildhoodView on Amazon The author's memoir of growing up in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution and the devastating war with Iraq. By Marjane Satrapi.
- The AvestaVisit avesta.org Download a free translation (in PDF or EPUB formats) of the Avesta, the primary collection of sacred texts of Zoroastrianism. Translated by LH Mills.
- The Cambridge History of IranVisit universitypublishingonline.org Download the complete 7-volume series on the history of Iran. A masterwork. By WB Fisher, I Gershevitch, E Yarshater, RN Frye, JA Boyle, Peter Jackson, Lawrence Lockhart, P Avery, GRG Hambly and C Melville.
- The Colonel: A NovelView on Amazon Written by one of the country's leading modern authors, this fearless novel — so powerful it’s banned in Iran — tells the stirring story of a tortured people forced to live under successive oppressive regimes. By Mahmoud Dowlatabadi; translated by Tom Patterdale.
- The Essential RumiView on AmazonWithout question, the best, most evocative translation of the great Sufi poet's works. To get a taste for it, you can watch the video at right. By Coleman Barthes.
- The History of the Sunni and Shia Split: Understanding the Divisions within IslamView on Amazon The Iranian branch of Islam, Shia, is different from that which prevails in much of the Islamic world, Sunni. This book succinctly gets to the historical reasons underlying the difference. By Jesse Harasta and Charles River Editors.
- The Shahnameh: The Persian Book of KingsView on Amazon Written between 977 and 1010 CE, this 60,000-verse epic poem filled with captivating tales of pre-Islamic Iran. A classic that reveals the heart of a people. By Abolqasem Ferdowsi; translated by Dick Davis.
- The Twilight WarView on Amazon The historian-author chronicles thirty years of American-Iranian foreign relations, tracing the path from inseparable allies to stark enemies. By David Crist.
Articles & Academic Papers
- “Art of the First Cities”View on MetMuseum.org The catalog from the museums exhibition on the subject profiles the art of Mesopotamia, the location of the earliest cities. More than fifty experts in the field have contributed entries on individual works of art and essays on a wide range of subjects. Edited by Joan Aruz.
- “Assets of the Ayatollah”View on Reuters.com A four-part series on the economic empire behind Iran's supreme leader. By Steve Stecklow, Babak Dehghanpisheh and Yeganeh Torbati.
- “How Iran Smuggles Its Smokes”View on RoadsandKingdoms.com First brought to Iran by Russian merchants in the late 19th century, the cigarette is now deeply embedded in Iranian social life. By Esfandyar Batmanghelidj.
- “Iran: The New Silk Roads. Transport and Trade in Greater Central Asia”View on silkroadstudies.org Iran's efforts to take advantage of its strategic position at the crossroads of the Middle East, Central Asia and the Caspian. By Abbas Maleki.
- “Iran’s Must-Follow Instagram Accounts”View on TheGuardian.com With Facebook and Twitter banned, many Iranians find it easier to express themselves on this regime-condoned photo-sharing network. Here are best square views into the Islamic republic. By Kelly Golnoush Niknejad.
- “One Woman Stands Against the Iranian Government”View on ForeignPolicy.com In a country that brooks no dissent, Nasrin Sotoudeh's remarkable solo protest keeps finding unlikely allies. By Golnaz Esfandiari.
- “Tehran’s Promise”View on NewYorker.com The revolution’s midlife crisis and the nuclear deal. By Robin Wright.
- “The Iran Nuclear Deal – A Simple Guide”View on NYTimes.com An excellent graphical guide to the Iran nuclear deal. By William J Broad and Sergio Peçanha.
- “The Iran Nuclear Deal: A Definitive Guide”View on hbelfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu This report provides a concise description of the agreement and a balanced assessment of its strengths and weaknesses with respect to its central objective to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. By Gary Samore (lead author and editor).
- “The Qanats of Iran”View on utexas.edu Some 3,000 years ago the Persians learned how to dig underground aqueducts that would bring mountain ground water to the plains. Today (NB: = 1968!) the system provides 75 percent of the water used in Iran. By HE Wulff.
If you won’t have ready access to wifi during your travels, consider saving these articles for offline reading using the Instapaper app.
- Persian Food Primer: 10 Essential Iranian DishesVisit foodrepublic.com A good, clear run-down of classic Iranian dishes.
- Quran TranslationVisit Quran.com Offers English translations of all the chapters in the Quran. Invaluable for understanding the meaning behind the Arabic inscriptions you will encounter throughout your trip.
- The ApadanaVisit oi.uchicago.edu Excellent photos of the Apadana (hypostyle hall) at Persepolis.
- Towers of Silence: Zoroastrian Architectures for the Ritual of DeathVisit sock-studio.com A good well-illustrated review of the Zoroastrian towers of silence.
- Wind Towers | Iran’s Ancient Air Conditioning SystemVisit kavehfarrokh.com Professor Farrokh explains how the country's famous wind towers work.
- World Bank | IranVisit worldbank.org A great resource for the country's quality of living indicators, economy and climate change data.
- Arash the Archer: A Story from Ancient PersiaView on Amazon This book is inspired by the ancient story of Arash the Swift Arrow who with a single shot sent an arrow all the way to the Oxus River and marked the border between Persia and her rival empire of Tooran. By Shahriar Bourbour.
- Happy Nowruz: Cooking with Children to Celebrate the Persian New YearView on Amazon Nowruz--the Persian New Year--is one of the world's great festivals, a full month of activities celebrating the earth, the arrival of spring, and the rebirth of nature. Children and adults alike can share in preparing special meals, decorating the house, and performing the many ceremonies that welcome the New Year. By Najmieh Batmanglij.
- The Amazing Discoveries of Ibn SinaView on Amazon Born in Persia more than a thousand years ago, Ibn Sina was one of the greatest thinkers of his time. This beautifully illustrated book provides a fascinating glimpse into the life of one of the great intellects of the past. By Fatima Sharafeddine and Intelaq Mohammed Ali.
- The Persian CinderellaView on Amazon In this jewel-like version of a classic story, popular folklorist Shirley Climo tells the tale of Settareh, the Persian Cinderella. By Shirley Climo and Robert Florczak.
- A River Runs Through It: Iran’s Water ShortageListen on souncloud.com The FT's Tehran correspondent Najmeh Bozorgmehr reports from the Zayandeh Roud, an ancient river in Iran that has dried up amid a wider water crisis in the country.
- Interview with Marjane SatrapiListen on soundcloud.com In this PEN America event, Satrapi speaks with graphic artist Françoise Mouly and MoMA’s Sally Berger about her strategies for storytelling in film.
- It’s Not Like Argo: The Trials Of A Tour Guide in IranListen on soundcloud.com In this highly recommended Guardian Longread podcast, the author gives a thoughtful picture of Iran at this critical juncture. By Christopher de Bellaigue.
- On IranListen on Spotify.com In this nearly one-hour recording, the linguist and social justice activist expounds on all things Iran. By Noam Chomsky.
- The Sounds of Iran: Traditional Persian MusicListen to the Spotify playlist Listen to a personal collection of traditional Persian tracks compiled by Trip Reads founder Jennifer Raezer. The perfect pre-trip soundtrack.
Who to Follow
- Twitter: Azita MehranFollow @TurmericSaffron Persian food writer l Photographer l Author of the blog 'Turmeric & Saffron.'
- Twitter: Bahman KalbasiFollow @BahmanKalbasi NYC/UN Correspondent: BBC TV News: Persian Service. Tweet in Persian as well. RT simply means I am endorsing you for President in 2016.
- Twitter: Encyclopaedia IranicaFollow @iranicaonline Iranian Studies, Islamic Books, Digital Humanities, & Open Access - tweeted by Dagmar Riedel at the Center for Iranian Studies of Columbia University.
- Twitter: Golnaz EsfandiariFollow @GEsfandiari Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent based in DC, Editor Of Iran Blog Persian Letters, rferl.org/archive/Persian_Letters.
- Twitter: Saeed Kamali DehghanFollow @SaeedKD Guardian journalist covering Iran.
- Twitter: Shahre FarangFollow @ShahreFarang ShahreFarang is a website in Persian & English dedicated to documenting Iranian art, pop culture, nostalgic memorabilia, everyday life objects, kitsch, & more.