Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East” as Want to Read:
House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  1,830 Ratings  ·  316 Reviews
Evocative and beautifully written, House of Stone . . . should be read by anyone who wishes to understand the agonies and hopes of the Middle East. Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize winning historian and author of Crossing Mandelbaum Gate

In rebuilding his family home in southern Lebanon, Shadid commits an extraordinarily generous act of restoration for his wounded land, and for u
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade (first published January 1st 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about House of Stone, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about House of Stone

State of Wonder by Ann PatchettTwilight of the Elites by Christopher L. HayesIn the Night Kitchen by Maurice SendakBehind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine BooMoonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
Colbert Report Book List
20th out of 65 books — 24 voters
Night by Elie WieselI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya AngelouThe Glass Castle by Jeannette WallsOn Writing by Stephen KingJust Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Book Riot's 100 Must-Read Memoirs
45th out of 100 books — 33 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Dave Cullen
Feb 15, 2013 Dave Cullen rated it it was amazing
So much about this book to love.

It's only the third book I've ever agreed to blurb. That tells you how much I loved it.

My blurb (and I wrote it myself, and meant every word):

“I was captivated, instantly, by Anthony Shadid’s lushly evocative prose. Crumbling Ottoman outposts, doomed pashas, and roving bandits feel immediate, familiar, and relevant. Lose yourself in these pages, where empires linger, grandparents wander, and a battered Lebanon beckons us home. Savor it all. If Márquez had explored
As I read, I found myself falling into the rhythm of this book--the stumbling attempt to rebuild an old house, the current state of Lebanon and surrounding countries, and the history of the Levant and how the open, multicultural area became a political firestorm. I found the history and current information fascinating as I really had only a superficial understanding of the historical events and little understanding of their impact on the people who lived there, people of such diverse cultures, ...more
Apr 06, 2012 Catherine rated it it was ok
Shadid was a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, and his posthumous memoir has been promoted on several TV shows and web sites. I was really looking forward to delving into his book.

I’m so sad to say that this was a slog from start to finish. The book is partially about the renovation of his ancestor’s home in Lebanon. That portion of the story was typical of so many others I’ve read, full of construction delays, eccentric characters, and discovering “home.” But there was nothing really unique. For
Oct 29, 2012 Marcy rated it it was amazing
Anthony Shadid was a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and with every page I read of this novel, he deserved this coveted prize. Anthony's great grandfather, Isber, left war-torn Lebanon with his family to live in America, where he could secure their future, "where his children could realize their ambitions and create their own families without the distractions of fear and conflict."

In better times in Marjayoun, Isber had built a magnificent "house of stone," done in the Levant style when life was
I liked this book more and more as I read, but also felt sadder and sadder with Anthony Shadid's death in the back of my mind. Maybe Dr. Khairallah is teaching him how to care for bonsai now, somewhere in an alternate dimension. Or something...

Here on Earth in the living realm, I found the predictions of the syrian conflict scattered about in the book quite unsettling. On a less morbid note, I really enjoyed reading about his family coming to America and creating their life here. I have an even
رولا البلبيسي Rula  Bilbeisi
“Empires fall. Nations topple. Boarders may shift or be realigned. Old loyalties may dissolve or, without warning, be altered. Home, whether it be structure or familiar ground is, finally, the identity that does not fade.”

With such a profound introduction, the story begins. His poetic words and sincere emotions captivated my attention in the beginning, especially when describing how home “bayt” is perceived here, in the Middle East. I quote: “A house was a display of pride and in time it would b
Mar 08, 2015 Naila rated it really liked it
Like so many books of this genre, I feel the weight of the gesture overshadows its execution.

Which isn't to say that I'm not glad he tried.

I will always be happy to see anyone, within or without the diaspora, to go back and rediscover their own family legacies, especially when most of the stories worth telling are downplayed by the heroes that star in them. Too many tales of kindness, bravery, and pain are lost to time and the larger-scale events that spurred them. These stories aren't always i
Rob Warner
Oct 22, 2012 Rob Warner rated it it was amazing
As we age, our hearts eventually turn to our fathers, and we try to understand those who went before, what they were like, how they faced life, what challenges they overcame, and we gauge whether we measure up to our ancestors. House of Stone chronicles Shadid's return to his roots as he tries to restore the family home in Marjayoun, Lebanon, and also tries to understand his ancestors and his homeland. His quest evokes admiration for Shadid's family, sorrow for the tragedies they faced, and thou ...more
Jennifer Swapp
Jan 26, 2013 Jennifer Swapp rated it really liked it
Most of this book I read beside a computer, accessing wikipedia and trek earth websites often to better understand the history of lebanon and the Levant, as well as to visualize the descriptive flowers, plants and architecture and countryside that Shadid wonderfully elicited.

It as noteworthy that Shadid's storyline was based on his great grandfather and great grandmother who sent their children to America to protect them from the destruction on war in Lebanon- a sacrifice they were willing to m
Emi Bevacqua
Mar 30, 2012 Emi Bevacqua rated it liked it
Shelves: mideast, journalist
This is the first Anthony Shadid I've read and he came across as rather guarded. He's much more generous in his descriptions of the foibles and weaknesses of all his ancestors, neighbors and contractors. I did learn a good bit about Lebanon's history, and the country's identity within complicated constructs of cultures and politics (Christian, Muslim, Arab, Maronite, Druze, Levant...).

The story is about an American journalist who gets divorced and takes a leave of absence from the Washington Po
Mar 27, 2012 Hazel rated it liked it
This book is told in two concurrent parts: Anthony Shadid's family history as shaped by the Levant and the emigration to America, and his restoration of his family's home in Lebanon, also in the context of the disappearance of the Levant and the rise of the troubles of the Middle East. I enjoyed the story of his family more than the repetition and trials of the difficulties of renovation. I appreciated the importance of the restoration to him and the arc of the story, but it needed further ...more
Mar 14, 2012 Beth rated it really liked it
Solid, unprepossessing memoir written by someone with both intimate knowledge of and analytical rigor for the region. The memoir's publication timing, combined with references he makes throughout to Marjayoun as a town where people come to be buried, lend a sense of eeriness given his untimely death last month.
Michele Weiner
Nov 13, 2012 Michele Weiner rated it really liked it
Anthony Shadid has written about restoring his identity by means of restoring his great-grandfather's stone house in a Lebanese viillage called Jedeidet Marjayoun. He writes in a lyrical way, shifting back and forth between eras so frequently that it creates some confusion, at least it did for me. There are at least three intertwined tales; Bayt, meaning 'home' in Arabic, which refers not only to the physical, but also to the feelings of security and belonging that come with; the history of ...more
May 01, 2012 Natalie rated it really liked it
It's important to put a face on history. This promises to be a good book from the first page. For a page turning story with beautiful words, dry sage humor, a culture/history memoir, and for thought provoking reading. A good book makes you want to read more. This is one of those.

I thought it would be more about Anthony Shadid, the man. He actually concentrates on making a visual picture of the place, the people, the culture through stories and encounters. And through in large part centered aroun
Dec 03, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing
Generally, I avoid memoirs, but since this book was up for the National Book Award, I decided to read it.

I am so glad I did.

Shadid combines the story of rebuilding his families' hundred year old home in Lebanon, which had been hit by a rocket, with his own story and that of his extended family. The story of rebuilding the house is captivating in itself. Anyone who has ever built a home or taken on a renovation project can relate to all the difficulities that Shadid experiences with finding and
Jun 19, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: school
If you've been a student of the Middle East in the last decade, it's been almost impossible to avoid Anthony Shadid's extraordinary work. He reported the war in Iraq with an almost holy kind of insight and love for the people who suffered the onslaught of war. After Iraq, he wound up, among other places, in Libya, where he was detained by Qaddafi's security forces; after that, he was drawn to Syria, and that's where he died. A horrible loss, not just to his family and friends, but to the world, ...more
p. xi
"The true Vienna lover lives on borrowed memories. With a bittersweet pang of nostalgia he remembers things he never knew. The Vienna that is, is as nice a town as ever there was. But the Vienna that never was is the grandest city ever." Orson Welles, Vienna (1968)

"...the graceful slope of Arabic, leaning to the left, imposed on the rigidity of Latin, standing straight."

" 'Your first discovery when you travel,' wrote Elizabeth Harwick, 'is that you do not exist.' In other words, it is n
I got the book after a heart-breaking interview with Nada, Shadid's widow. I'm happy I read it and knowing that Shadid had passed away, passages where he describes looking forward to living in the rebuilt house with his children are truly touching. I'm also conflicted about this book as some parts of it greatly annoyed me as well.
On the one hand, the writing is beautiful, the characters are compelling, you feel a real sense of love and admiration for this part of Lebanon (and the Levant in gener
Diane S ☔
Apr 12, 2013 Diane S ☔ rated it liked it
A reporter, a man whose family had moved to the states from Lebanon, a man who had seen many wars and been many places and a man who returns to Lebanon, to the village of his forebears and decides to repair the family home that had been neglected and war torn and was in need of extensive repair. His writing is the writing of a reporter, his strength was in writing of the many abuses of wars. Dead bodies, bombs, destroyed families and the little things found that have been left behind as a ...more
May 22, 2012 Amalia rated it really liked it
Disclaimer: Anthony was a middle school classmate in Oklahoma. He was a nice guy as an 8th grader, and I was delighted to find that he lost none of that "nice guy" over his lifetime. Nice teenagers are a special commodity.

I read early things about this book during the winter and already had my heart set on reading it. When Anthony died in February, that motivated me to get my hands on it as quickly as I could (and I was at Kings English to get a copy the day it was released). I was not disappoin
Dec 25, 2013 David rated it it was ok
Given the poignancy of the author's death earlier this year, I really wanted to like this book; and indeed it evokes the lost character of the Levant with tenderness and beauty. Shadid tells the story of his attempt to rebuild "his" family home in Lebanon. I use quotes because Shadid's only connection to the home is multiple generations ago: the home belonged to a family patriarch from a lost era long before Shadid. With his hardcore vision of a rebuilt home, Shadid lets himself be thoroughly ...more
Jan 07, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it
Anthony Shadid is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning foreign correspondent. He died last year of an asthma attack while reporting in Syria for the New York Times. Shortly after, his third book, House of Stone was published.
It’s clear by the first page of this memoir, that Shadid is an engaging and insightful writer with a keen sense of observation and extensive knowledge of the political strife which his family’s place of origin, Lebanon, has endured for many years.
House of Stone interweaves Leb
Mary Kooistra
Jul 08, 2012 Mary Kooistra rated it liked it
Sort of "a year in Province" - only a year in Lebanon...where this Pulitzer prize winning reporter - takes a year to restore a house that belonged to his great grandparents. I like books that help me imagine what it is like to live in other places and situations, and this does that. Really makes the point as to the effect of ongoing conflict on the lives of those caught in the middle. Also effectively points out that until the European powers became involved at the end of the Ottoman Empire - ...more
Linda Appelbaum
Apr 13, 2013 Linda Appelbaum rated it liked it
I liked this book about a man returning to his family home in Lebanon to rebuild it and as he does so we learn of his family history and about Lebanon as well. There is always something beautiful and peaceful about returning to the past, even when that past is often destroyed by war and this author's story is even more poignant because he died shortly after finishing the book. This was an audio book for me and the reader was middle eastern and I very much appreciated his accent, which added so ...more
Aug 07, 2013 Florence rated it liked it
Anthony Shadid returned to his ancestral home in a Lebanese village, finding it in ruins as the result of war and neglect. He spent a year restoring the home to its former glory and reminiscing about the history of his family and of the Middle East. The area that is now Lebanon was part of the Ottoman Empire. After the First World War when victorious European powers took control of the area, new borders were drawn, cutting off access to Syria and what is now Israel. The imagined past is ...more
marcus miller
Mar 17, 2013 marcus miller rated it it was ok
Shelves: middle-east
I plowed my way through this book. Maybe it was the self-pity the author admits to as he complains about the slow pace of rebuilding his ancestral house, his crumbling marriage, his relationship with his daughter, or the mess that is Lebanon, that made it difficult to read.

At times I wondered if Shadid didn't try to do to much. In telling the history of Lebanon, the story of rebuilding the house, the emigration of his ancestors to Oklahoma and Texas, plus comments about his job, marriage, and h
Susan Bennett
Sep 27, 2014 Susan Bennett rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Mid-Eastern history
An American foreign correspondent of Lebanese heritage takes a year's leave from work to renovate his family's home in Marjayoun, Lebanon. This could have been a bland book, but the author makes it engrossing with his descriptions of village life and Lebanon's recent past. The characters that populate the village are sometimes maddening, but always endearing. The author alternates between his struggles to complete the renovation, his great-grandparents' sacrifices , and his grandparents ...more
Apr 18, 2012 Angela rated it liked it
This was an immersive read with a compelling theme stitched throughout the story. The tragedies of war, the uprooting of culture and intense feelings for home and sense of identity are strongly portrayed; however, the lack of chronology proved unsettling to me. Much of the author's work jumps backwards and forwards or settles in the present in such a jarring and questioning nature that it seems rushed or perhaps is a first or second draft. Additionally, I would have liked the inclusion of ...more
Nov 06, 2013 Linda rated it liked it
Recommended to Linda by: CCPL book talk 10-15-13
Anthony Shadid is an American of Lebanese decent who sought and found, if not his family's roots, at least his ancestral home that he painstakingly restored. Along the way he learned the customs and personality of the peoples in his sphere, both family and strangers. Shadid restored not only the home, but the land, the olive trees became of special significance to Shadid - a link to the past while starting a new tradition.
The story weaves ancestor stories with Shadid's tribulations restoring the
Mostafa Mostafa
Nov 21, 2013 Mostafa Mostafa rated it liked it
3.5 stars
actually, the problem is with me not wtih this bk. maybe am not used to this type of bks where nothibg actually happens ( like what happened with three cups of tea which i didnt continue and this is way much better).
despite the fact it is beautifully wrotten but some details were pretty useless and i didnt get the point of adding them. the bk got boring sometimes, so boring actually that i forgot the book for a day or two and at the end i was suffering to end it.
for those who like memoi
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Beirut, I Love You: A Memoir
  • Jasmine and Fire: A Bittersweet Year in Beirut
  • The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday
  • The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir
  • The Bread of Angels: A Memoir of Love and Faith
  • Facing the Wave: A Journey in the Wake of the Tsunami
  • Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East
  • Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs & Israelis 1956-78
  • A Thousand Sighs, A Thousand Revolts: Journeys in Kurdistan
  • Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War
  • IraqiGirl: Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq
  • Cairo: My City, Our Revolution
  • My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq
  • Every Man in This Village is a Liar: An Education in War
  • Dancing Arabs
  • Kosher Chinese: Living, Teaching, and Eating with China's Other Billion
  • A Quiet Revolution: The Veil's Resurgence, from the Middle East to America
  • The Locust and the Bird: My Mother's Story
Anthony Shadid was a foreign correspondent for the New York Times. Until December 2009, he served as the Baghdad bureau chief of the Washington Post. Over a 15-year career, he reported from most countries in the Middle East.

Shadid won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 2004 for his coverage of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the occupation that followed. He won the Pulitzer Prize agai
More about Anthony Shadid...

Share This Book

“Subtle and coy, the cemento at Maalouf's did not speak of war, or frontiers, and the spaces they narrowed, but, rather, grandeur. The tiles returned one to a realm where imagination, artistry, and craftsmanship were not only appreciated but given free reign, where what was unique and striking, or small and perfect, or wrought with care was desired, where gazed-upon objects were the products of peaceful hearts, hands long practiced and trained. War ends the values and traditions that produce such treasures. Nothing is maintained. Cultures that may seem as durable as stone can break like glass, leaving all the things that held them together unattended. I believe that the craftsman, the artist, the cook, and the silversmith are peacemakers. They instill grace; they lull the world to calm.” 3 likes
More quotes…