moroccan flag at agadir beach

Books about Morocco (novels and stories, no travel guides)


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When visiting a country for the first time, many things can feel very foreign. I felt the same way about Morocco. This mystical country in the northwest of the African continent. Not so far away from Spain, and therefore Europe, but yet so far away.
Books provide an ideal insight into a foreign country. Either the plots take place in the country, or they are reports on the experiences of travellers or locals. This does not include standard travel guides with “here is the best nous nous/the best tajine/… in Marrakech”, but what life and the way of living in Morocco are really like. Of course, history, old and recent, should not be neglected or omitted. Below you will find an overview of recommended books about Morocco. If you have other books about the beautiful country of Morocco, please leave a comment below to let us know about the titles. The following books are available in English or sometimes even in French. Whether hardback, paperback or kindle, reading about Morocco is always a highlight.

The best books about Morocco (no typical travel guides)

The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca by Tahir Shah

Endlessly enthralling, The Caliph’s House charts a year in the life of one family who takes a tremendous gamble. As we follow Tahir on his travels throughout the kingdom, from Tangier to Marrakech to the Sahara, we discover a world of fierce contrasts that any true adventurer would be thrilled to call home.


Orange Blossom & Honey: Magical Moroccan recipes from the souks to the Sahara by John Gregory-Smith

Orange Blossom & Honey is a culinary journey across Morocco, from the souks of Marrakesh, through the Sahara, and onto the blustery shores of the Atlantic coast. In researching this book, John travelled into the heart of the High Atlas Mountains to learn the secrets of traditional lamb barbecue, then journeyed north, through the city of Fes, where the rich dishes of the Imperial Courts are still prepared in many homes.

The Voices of Marrakesh: A Record of a Visit by Elias Canetti

Nobel Prize-winning author Canetti spent only a few weeks in Marrakesh, but it was a visit that would remain with him for the rest of his life. In The Voices of Marrakesh, he captures the essence of that place: the crowds, the smells – of spices, camels and the souks – and, most importantly to Canetti, the sounds of the city, from the cries of the blind beggars and the children’s call for alms to the unearthly silence on the still roofs above the hordes.
In these immaculately crafted essays, Canetti examines the emotions Marrakesh stirred within him and the people who affected him for ever.

French Book: Vieille dame du riad by Fouad Laroui

Adventures in Morocco: From the Souks to the Sahara by Alice Morrison

Despite more than 10 million tourists coming to Morocco each year, there are remarkably few books about its people, their customs and the extraordinary range of places to visit, from bustling markets to vast, empty deserts. Alice makes sure she samples it all, and as she does she provides a stunning portrait of a beautiful country. As a lone woman, she often attracts plenty of curiosity, but her willingness to participate – whether thigh deep in pigeon droppings in a tannery or helping out herding goats – ensures that she is welcomed everywhere by a people who are among the most hospitable on the planet.

The Beating Heart of the Desert by Sergio Bambaren

A small oasis in the Sahara, far away from civilization: In this completely peaceful and untouched place, which knows neither time nor hectic, Sergio Bambaren meets a wise nomad. Through him he recognizes the richness of simple life – and begins to feel happiness in its purest form …When the author travels to Morocco to surf the legendary waves of Agadir, he hears the legend of a wise nomad who was born with a heart covered only by a thin layer of skin, and yet has lived secluded in the desert for years, far from civilization. Who is this brave man and why does Sergio hear him in his dreams? Determined to get to know Khalil, he sets off for the Sahara defying fear of fear, knowing that he can die in the scorching heat of the desert, and finally discovers an enchanting oasis that lies like a green ribbon in the middle of high sand dunes. Here the “Beating Heart of the Desert” lives in perfect harmony with nature. He teaches Sergio that you don’t have to align your life with material goods to be happy. That true happiness dwells in the heart, and nowhere else.

Amazir by Tom Gamble

Tom Gamble’s Amazir is a breathtaking journey into the souks and mountains of Morocco that chronicles a powerful love affair and a nation’s political turmoil. An idealistic young Englishman, Harry Summerfield, befriends an American oil explorer in Gibraltar in the 1930s. Their meeting sparks a journey for both men that will take them across Morocco and northern Africa, to encounter the harsh realities of Berber opposition to French colonial rule and the passion and conflict of a love for the same young French woman. Full of action, character and extraordinarily vivid local colour, this is a vast novel of adventure, romance and intrigue which keeps the reader guessing page after page. From the hustle and bustle of Marrakech to the beautiful solitude of the Atlas Mountains, and incorporating all levels of society in pre-war Morocco from Berber tribesmen to French politicians, Amazir is a powerfully evocative work dealing with a vast spectrum of human experience – from wonder to despair.

The Saffron Trail: Discover Marrakech in this perfect escapist read by Rosanna Ley

After the death of her beloved mother, Nell travels from rural Cornwall to the colour and chaos of Marrakech. Her marriage may be on the rocks, but exploring the heady delights of Moroccan cuisine could help her fulfil her dream of opening her own restaurant.
It’s there she meets Amy – a young photographer trying to unravel the story behind her family’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The two women develop a close friendship and discover a surprising connection between their own pasts.
This connection will take Nell and Amy on a journey to find their own ‘saffron trail’ – from the labyrinthine medina and bustle of Moroccan bazaars all the way back home to Cornwall and to the heart of their families’ origins.

Marrakesh by Design: Decorating with All the Colors, Patterns, and Magic of Morocco by Maryam Montague

In a world filled with beige interiors, Morocco is the perfect antidote: a refuge for addicts of saturated color, a haven for devotees of intricate pattern, a destination for admirers of striking architecture. For anyone who wants to add Morocco’s spicy design mix into their own home, Maryam Montague, the personality behind the award-winning blog My Marrakesh, explains how to do so with the building blocks of Moroccan designfrom the colors, patterns, and textiles to the archways, fountains, gardens, and so much more. With illustrative text and gorgeous photographs, Maryam shows how Moroccan design comes to life in real villas and riads and in her own magnificent home and guesthouse. Eager DIYers will love the ideas presented in sidebars and in how-to projects that can be applied to homes anywhere. Filled with all the richness of Morocco,Marrakesh by Design will transport readers straight to the souks and salons of this exotic city while showing them the multitude of ways to live with the enticing elements of Moroccan design.

The Timbuktu School for Nomads: Lessons from the People of the Desert by Nicholas Jubber

The Sahara: a dream-like, far away landscape of Lawrence of Arabia and Wilfred Thesiger, The English Patient and Star Wars, and home to nomadic communities whose ways of life stretch back millennia. Today it’s a teeth-janglingly dangerous destination, where the threat of jihadists lurks just over the horizon. Following in the footsteps of 16th century traveller Leo Africanus, Nicholas Jubber went on a turbulent adventure to the forgotten places of North Africa and the legendary Timbuktu.
Once the seat of African civilization and home to the richest man who ever lived, this mythic city is now scarred by terrorist occupation and is so remote its own inhabitants hail you with the greeting, ‘Welcome to the middle of nowhere’.
From the cattle markets of the Atlas, across the Western Sahara and up the Niger river, Nicholas joins the camps of the Tuareg, Fulani, Berbers, and other communities, to learn about their craft, their values and their place in the world.

The Timbuktu School for Nomads is a unique look at a resilient city and how the nomads pit ancient ways of life against the challenges of the 21st century.

Stolen Lives: My Family’s Twenty-Year Struggle in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir

A gripping memoir that reads like a political thriller–the story of Malika Oufkir’s turbulent and remarkable life. Born in 1953, Malika Oufkir was the eldest daughter of General Oufkir, the King of Morocco’s closest aide. Adopted by the king at the age of five, Malika spent most of her childhood and adolescence in the seclusion of the court harem, one of the most eligible heiresses in the kingdom, surrounded by luxury and extraordinary privilege.
A heartrending account in the face of extreme deprivation and the courage with which one family faced its fate, Stolen Lives is an unforgettable story of one woman’s journey to freedom.

A Palace in the Old Village by Tahar Ben Jelloun

From ‘Morocco’s greatest living author’ (The Guardian) comes a heartbreaking novel about parents and children, the powerful pull of home and the yearning for tradition and family. Mohammed has spent the past 40 years working in France. As he approaches retirement, he takes stock of his life – his devotion to Islam and to his assimilated children – and decides to return to Morocco, where he spends his life’s savings building the biggest house in the village and waiting for his children and grandchildren to come and be with him.

The King’s Fool by Mahi Binebine

Sidi is dying.

In the last days of this all-powerful tyrant, his faithful court fool takes stock of the decades he has spent in the king’s service. For the many years have left certain indelible wounds.

During his service, the fool has been the king’s closest counsel, his most trusted companion and adviser, privy to the king’s deepest secrets and most intimate thoughts. It is an honoured position for which many other courtiers would pay a hefty price. Something the fool understands only too well, for this closeness has indeed come at a terrible cost.

What price the confidence of a great king? Is it stories, jokes, witty repartee? Or does the debt fall closer to home? Perhaps it must be paid far from the magnificent palaces, feasting and festivities of the royal court. Perhaps it must be paid in the death jails of a formidable prison fortress far out in the desert; a place so feared that few dare to speak its name . . .

Tazmamart: 18 Years in Morocco’s Secret Prison by Aziz BineBine

This is the true story of Aziz BineBine who, unwittingly entangled in a failed coup against King Hassan II, found himself locked in a small, underground cell in a prison thought to be a mere horror story: Tazmamart. For 18 years, no one knew where the prison’s inmates were. No one knew if they were even alive. In many ways, they hardly were: confined for 24 hours a day, with the barest rations, no hygiene or medical help, and accompanied by cockroaches, scorpions, and tarantulas. One of the few to survive, Aziz writes not only to tell his own remarkable story but to remember and honour the men that lived – and died – alongside him. Against the backdrop of this unimaginable suffering, Aziz shows the strength of the human spirit to keep going against all the odds, to smile in the face of misery, and to forgive rather than condemn. Set to become a cult classic of survival literature, Tazmamart is a hellish journey through the abyss of despair – and out the other side.

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