Whether you journey alongside the daughter of Iraqi-Jewish refugees, or experience the memories of a young woman who survives Sarajevo, these stories can help us understand the importance of compassion surrounding displacement.

As part of our Simple Acts, we compiled a list of our favourite novels, non-fiction books, poetry anthologies, and even magazines and zines for Refugee Week 2023 about or by people with lived experience of seeking refuge to invite you to pick a book or short story to read alone, with friends or at a book club. Here, we’re unpacking a few of those books. 

We hope these will not only teach and inspire you, but we also hope they demonstrate why we landed on Compassion as this year’s Refugee Week theme. We’ve included books on self-compassion, as well as books that reveal compassion in action, and compassion for those beyond our normal circles. 


Assembly by Natasha Brown

Asylum Road by Olivia Sudjic

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

Babel by R.F. Kuang

By the Sea by Abdulrazak Gurnah

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

From Another World by Evelina Santangelo

Iraq+100, edited by Hassan Blasim

The Beekeeper of Aleppo ​​Christy Lefteri

The World and All That it Holds by Aleksandar Hemon


Bless the Daughter Raised by the Voice in Her Head by Warsan Shire

I Was Not Born a Sad Poet by Loraine Masiya Mponela

Leaving Fingerprints by Imtiaz Dharker

Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong


A Human Being Died That Night by Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela

All Else Failed by Dana Sachs

Asylum Speakers by WorldWideTribe

Conversations from Calais edited by Mathilda Della Torres 

Dispatches from the Diaspora by Gary Younge

Hope Not Fear by Hassan Akkad

Map of Hope and Sorrow by Eyad Awwadawnan, Helen Benedict

Refugee Heritage by Sandi Hilal, Alessandro Petti 

This Hostel Life by Melatu Uche Okorie

The Lightless Sky by Gulwali Passarlay

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

The Ungrateful Refugee by Dina Nayeri

Voices from the Jungle by Calais Writers

Who Gets Believed? By Dina Nayeri

Compassion and mental health

All About Love by bell hooks

Rest is Resistance by Tricia Hersey

Other Resources:

Books about refugees and asylum seekers for children, Booktrust

Refugee Week book recommendations, Waterstones

If books aren’t your jam, why not pick up a magazine or zine to flick through? We’ve put together a list of some of our favourites. These magazines highlight the work of refugees and issues around migration through creativity and the arts. We’ve also shared a couple of climate focused publications to remind us of the climate refugee crises and non-human migrants: 


Beyond Resilience 



Other side of hope


The Road to Nowhere 

Whatever you do, let us know what you’ve read and where it took you by sharing on social media using #ReadaBook and #SimpleActs. 

If your social media post includes images or names of other people, make sure you get permission first, including from parents/ guardians of anyone under 18.

Read a Book is one of ten Simple Acts you can do for Refugee Week 2023. To view them all, visit the Simple Acts page.