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.
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!
I have a new favourite book. I just read Nadia Davids book “An Imperfect Blessing” published by Umuzi Press in 2014 and it’s difficult to express how amazing this book is. This book is about a Cape Malay family in Cape Town in 1986 and 1993, and in the telling of the family’s story, so much of South Africa’s history is told as well. I love the incredible female characters, the window it offers readers into South Africa, and the way it challenges readers to go and read more about South Africa’s history. It is a stunning book, and I highly highly recommend the book. The information I had about South Africa was poor before I moved to Johannesburg, and in the telling of one family’s very specific story, this book shares so much about South Africa as a whole. This book is a gift.
My full video review is above. Please do share and comment with your thoughts!
My 5 Favourite Books with Muslim Women Characters
If you’ve ever wanted to read a book with amazing female Muslim characters and felt frustrated that you can’t find a good book to read, Episode 3 of the Seriously Planning #booktube show is for you. In this episode,I discuss my 5 favourite books featuring Muslim women. Please do watch, share and subscribe!
Sofia Khan is Not Obliged, by Ayisha Malik
Greetings friends! Seriously Planning has a new YouTube show about books, and this week’s episode is a review of a new UK release called “Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik.” In this episode I talk about how this book introduced to the Youtube book/reading community, why I started a channel, the importance of good cover art, and discuss my favourite and not so favourite parts of this book. It’s a book that would be a fun holiday/relaxing read or a book that would be good company if you’re stuck in bed with the flu during Joburg’s cold cold winter. This book will only be available in Canada in October 2016 I believe (not sure about the US release date), but it is available here in Johannesburg. If you’re read this book, what are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you.
You can find the video below.