Salt Houses by Hala Alyan (My Favourite Book from 2017)

 

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.

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Know You Are A Descendant of Brilliance, An Ancestor in Training

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.
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Vacation Books For Every Situation

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.

Mohsin Hamid – I Didn’t Know You Could Write Like This

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.

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On Reading The Other Half of Happiness by Ayisha Malik

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!

 

A Book that Helped Me with My Anger (On Reading The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah)

 

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.
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On Reading Sophie Kinsella’s “My Not So Perfect Life”

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.

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