6 Books to Start off 2019

(Compiled and introduced by Iqra M Azhar)

Salam folks! We KNOW that you probably didn't get as much reading done during the holidays and the winter break like you may have wanted so we are here with an awesome list of reads with a bit of a review on each to help you make your picks for this year and to encourage you to read more over the next few months.

All of these titles have been written by Muslim women authors with some really cool and relatable storylines.

  1. The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters by Nadiya Khan

You guys have probably heard of the London-based baker and TV show participant winner (Great British Bake off) Nadiya Khan who also has her own cookbook out? Well she wrote another book! In her third book and first fictional novel, which feels a lot like my own story actually, Nadiya writes about a family and a group of sisters and their lives. Still reading, but it looks promising - kind of like your favourite homeland drama in chapter book form except it is SO relatable to all of us who grew up in first world countries within immigrant families.

2. Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed (NYT bestseller)

There’s a title by a Muslim woman on the NYT bestseller list - how many of you know about it or have heard about it? A young adult novel about seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz who is already struggling to find her place between cultures has to deal with Islamophobia too. Set in post-911 America, the city of Chicago to be exact, this book applies to every Muslim woman that has experienced prejudice due to her Islamic faith. The author who wrote it seems pretty cool too! Your local Barnes and Noble probably carries it - if you grab a copy, let us know!

3. Minaret by Leila Aboulela

The story follows a university student Najwa from Khartoum to London where she has to start her life all over again from scratch with members of her family due to political unrest in her home country. We’ve just finished Part 1 and 2 and wish there were more than a few chapters left because we do not want the book to end. Must read!

4. Sofia Khan is NOT Obliged by Ayisha Malik

In her first novel, British Muslim author Ayisha Malik writes a heartwarming romantic comedy that captures the story of Sofia Khan - a young Muslim woman ready to renounce men for good when her boss persuades her to write about the Muslim dating scene. On her quest to expose everything that goes on, Sofia finds her own true match. MUST READ. Especially if you want to check out Part 2 which is titled: The Other Half of Happiness and follows Sofia’s story after she is married.

5. Elsewhere, Home by Leila Aboulela

Leila Aboulela’s work has been translated into 15 languages around the world and this newest work of hers, which came out this past July 2018 is the Winner of the 2018 Saltire Literary Award. She has also won other awards for her other works.

The cool thing about this book is that it is a collection of short stories with various characters all moving from their homelands into new homes. Themes range from assimilation and difference to displacement. Fellow author and Great British Bake Off tv show winner Nadiya Hussain says about it: "A lovely collection of short stories about love, loneliness and spirituality.” Anyone who has experienced packing up and having to move for any reason could relate to this. Check out this award-winning Sudanese author.

6. Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

This second novel by Aisha Saeed could not have come at a more perfect time: following the struggle of one girl’s journey to education (and literal freedom) in the villages of Pakistan, it is also a story about family and the balance between sacrificing for others and still managing to achieve your dreams. Also a NYT bestseller, it makes a perfect read for all those looking for an effective and inspiring discussion on improving the lives of women and servants in this region.

Let us know if you grab copies of any of these titles or other books by these authors and get to read them! We would love to hear your thoughts on them. Happy reading!

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