Books can be powerful tools to help us understand the world. For thousands of years, stories have been our way of making sense of the world and our place in it. They help us better understand other people, and ourselves too. Today, we have almost an infinite number of incredible stories at our fingertips.

Books by and about refugees can help us see the refugee experience through the eyes of individual people, rather than just as a faceless mass as often depicted in the media. By telling personal stories books can help us understand the human impact of forced migration and displacement. All of which can help us grow our compassion and inspire us to take action.

This Simple Act invites you to pick a book or short story to read alone, with friends or at a book club. Journey through its pages and pass it on, recommend to a friend or on social media, or go further by writing an online book review. Below are some of our recommendations:


  • A Human Being Died that Night Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela
  • All Else Failed by Dana Sachs
  • 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 Hamad
  • Iraq+100, edited by Hassan Blasim
  • The World and All That it Holds by Aleksandar Hemon
  • The Beekeeper of Aleppo ​​Christy Lefteri
  • From Another World by Evelina Santangelo


  • Bless the Daughter Raised by the Voice in Her Head by Warsan Shire
  • Leaving Fingerprints by Imtiaz Dharker
  • I Was Not Born a Sad Poet by Loraine Masiya Mponela
  • Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong


  • 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
  • The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
  • The Lightless Sky by Gulwali Passarlay
  • The Ungrateful Refugee by Dina Nayeri
  • This Hostel Life by Melatu Uche Okorie
  • Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang
  • Who Gets Believed? By Dina Nayeri
  • Voices from the Jungle by Calais Writers

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 2021 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: 

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

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.