My Favourite Book of 2017
Planning your reads for 2018? I suggest “Salt Houses” by Hala Alyan, a beautifully written generational family story that is unforgettable. The story starts in Nablus in 1963 with Salma, the mother of Alia and Mustafa. This book follows Salma and her family through time, and shows us how conflict and war plays out on the micro-scale of one family. This book teaches us as readers about trauma and love and marriage and family and gives us complicated, flawed characters that defy categorization. I highly highly recommend this book. My video review is below.
If you have a library and a garden, you have everything you need. ~Cicero.
To celebrate International Literacy Day this year, I made a trip to Seattle to visit their incredible public library. I instantly fell in love – from the rotary phone with stories of community sourced book reviews, to the incredible gift shop, to the multiple copies of hot new releases available through the Peak Reads program, to the beautiful garden theme and the stunning architecture, there was so much about the space and building that captivated my attention and inspired my heart. The visit felt especially meaningful because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about storytelling, who tells stories, how we recognise that we have stories worth telling, what it means to hear empowering narratives and and how feeling seen and represented impacts us.
More specifically, I’ve been thinking about storytelling because I’ve been thinking about Mark Gonzales new book called “Yo Soy Muslim” which is a letter of a father speaking to his daughter. I haven’t read the book as yet, but from what I can tell, it is a book that is about courage, doing good, recognising who you are, and what it means to be connected to Your Creator and other people.
In particular, the passage below brought me to tears when I read it.
Whether you’re about to head off for your last summer getaway before September arrives, or you’re planning out what to do during your summer staycation, books are one of the nicest ways to spend a holiday.
If you’re planning time outdoors and want something that will fit easily in a small bag, check these three books that are perfect for a summer hike:
If you have many hours at one stretch to read, may I suggest the magic that is Mohsin Hamid’s latest book and the genius of Maggie O’Farrell? Below are descriptions as to why you can’t go wrong with either of these readings selections.
What are you reading this summer? Please do share in the comments below.
I‘ve never been a huge fan of Mohsin Hamid. I loved “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” initially but was disappointed and irritated by the end, I enjoyed his essay collection “Civilization and Its Discontents” and I couldn’t get through the beginning of “How to Get Filthy Rich in Asia.” His latest book though, “Exit West” is magical. I’m almost done and hoping that the ending doesn’t let me down. Read below for one of my favourite passages from the book.
Almost a year ago, I started making Youtube videos (or booktube videos) about what I was reading. One of the first books I reviewed was a romantic comedy called “Sofia Khan is Not Obliged”, which featured a Muslim protagonist in her early thirties trying to find Mr.Right and balancing her career, her family and her friends at the same time.
The sequel to that book, titled “The Other Half of Happiness is now out.
My full video review below!
The first time I read a novel with Muslim characters, I was 21, and the book was “Does My Head Look Big in This?” by Randa Abdel-Fattah. The main character was sixteen years old, and even though the drama of being in high school and being the only person in a hijab was something I had experienced several years previously and had largely processed by then, it was affirming to read about a character who looked like me.
It was a lesson that women in hijab have stories worth telling.
Love stories can be stressful. Tea helps.
“And I know the job market is competitive, and I know everyone finds it hard, but I can’t help thinking: What did I do wrong? Was I crap at the interview? Am I crap, full stop? And if so..what am I going to do? A big black chasm is opening up in my mind. A scary dark hole. What if I can’t find any paying job, ever?” (Sophia Kinsella My Not So Perfect Life, p.183)
I had so many dreams. I used to lie on my bed and study the tube map and imagine becoming one of those fast, confident people I’ve seen on day tripst to the capital. People in a hurry, with goals, aims, broad horizons. I’d imagined getting on a career ladder that could take me anywhere if I worked hard enough. Working on global brands; meeting fascinating people; living life to the max.” (Sophia Kinsella My Not So Perfect Life, p.172)
When I am sick in bed, there are two things that make me feel better – television and books. Last week I was home from work, and because there wasn’t anything in particular I wanted to watch, I read Sophie Kinsella’s new book “My Not So Perfect Life” from start to finish. The book follows the story of Katie, or Cat as she’s known in the London ad agency where she works, as she tries to figure out how to advance in her job and get noticed so she can get to do the kind of work she wants to do. The story is relatable and I thoroughly enjoyed Kinsella’s depiction of surviving a difficult commute, stay with a tight budget, battle dreadful roommates and try to make friends, figure out who you are, and decipher your love life at the same time.
Instead of Kinsella’s normally fun but completely unfamiliar books, this book resonated and I found Katie to be her most likeable character that she has written to date. Where this book frustrated me though, was in its depiction of male characters.
I have a lot of take-aways from this book – “Our Turn by Kirstine Stewart
I’ve been thinking a lot about work and careers recently. After living in Johannesburg, South Africa for almost two years, I started a new job in an unfamiliar field in 2017. That job involved a country change as well, and because of my new role and new home, I’ve been thinking a lot about how my identity as a female, visibly Muslim, person of colour shows up at work, how to do well at work, how to find energy for projects that I want to pursue, and how to balance and manage the projects I want to do with family life and relationships given that “making things” often requires solitary focus and lots of time. It’s hard to find one book that addresses all those questions, so I’ve been reading different books for different purposes.
I love reading interesting business books. I’m not an entrepreneur myself, but there’s something about reading honest stories about the development of companies (there are plenty of books that are simply PR brochures for specific companies and I have little patience with those) and lessons from their mistakes and successes that interests me. Some favourites of mine include Starbucked, Delivering Happiness (about the shoe company Zappos), and “One Click” about Amazon. I work in the nonprofit and education sector and I think there is a great deal that public and private sector can learn from each other.
The past few months for me since November’s election results in the US have been a time of feeling bewildered, confused, angry, despondent and fiercely determined. Reading has been a way to make sense of my confusion, and here are four books that have helped me make sense of the world.
These four books are:
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
- The Good Immigrant, edited by Nikesh Shukla
- The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
- Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak
Watch the video below for my take-aways from each book!