With the region in chaos, all manner of readers (see: Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban) are turning to books to put the Middle East's intricate politics in perspective. PEOPLE's go-to reads:
• From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas L. Friedman: One-stop shopping: In a bestselling memoir about his decade in the Middle East, the New York Times columnist focuses on both people and politics. The conflict becomes an engrossing family feud writ large.
• No god but God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam by Reza Aslan: A brilliant portrait of the faith by a media-friendly religious scholar with a novelist's eye.
• Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Mitchell G. Bard: For Crossfire and debate-team types, stats and charts galore.
• Understanding the Holy Land by Mitch Frank: Written for young adults by a former TIME reporter, it's perfect for those who want to keep it short (152 pages).
• The Complete Idiot's Guide to Middle East Conflict: Clueless and crave a reader-friendly source? This info-packed tome covers the basics in quick bites.