The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know by James L. Gelvin helps to answer some questions. This non-fiction book is formatted with questions and answers and begins with the very basic question: "What is the Arab world?" The beginning of the Arab Spring is discussed, as well as political life in the countries, protests that have taken place and why, and the leading countries involved in the recent uprisings. This book is quite handy and a good start if you’re unsure where to begin and are curious about what's going on in the Middle East. It's not an overwhelming book, it's informative, neutral, and to the point.
Also recommended is Arab Spring Dreams, a collection of short essays submitted by young adults who won a writing contest. These young essayists came from all parts, from North African countries to Iran and Saudi Arabia. Many of these writers live in countries where free speech is condemned and censorship is severe so they took a risk submitting their stories and having their voices heard. These essays cover a wide range of experiences, all within the realm of civil rights and personal freedom (or lack thereof). This book reaches out to a Western audience and is really quite touching because the essays are so honest and personal.