31 in All. 2.6 a month.
Thanks to our lovely Peace Corps librarian who literally shipped me a box of books, to my friends who let me borrow theirs, and to my almost cruel amount of free-time, I have read more books for heck of it since those Summer Reading Competitions held at the Public Library.
Let’s get into it.
- Buddah by Karen Armstrong
- The Third Sex by Richard Totman
- Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak
- Dreams of Trespass by Fatima Mernissi
- Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk
- Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
- Doing Daily Battle by Fatima Mernissi
- Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakruni
- The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho
- Purple Hibicus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- When We Dead Awaken by Jenrik Ibsen
- Silk by Alessandro Baricco
- Pomegrante Soup by Marsha Mehran
- Scheherazade Goes West by Fatima Mernissi
- Women in Islamic Socities by Bo Utas
- Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
- The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
- The Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
- Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World 1500- 1800 by Khaled El-Rouayheb
- States and Women’s Rights by Mounira M. Charrad
- Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
- Brave New World,by Aldus Huxley
- The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
- Choke by Chuck Palahniuk
- The People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
- Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
- Man in the High Castle by Philip Dick
- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
- The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
- Sex at Dawn by Cacilda Jethá and Christopher Ryan
It looks like my books mainly fall into two categories, cut-throat history or anthropology books and fiction that focuses on women from living internationally, with of course a few novels by Chuck P. thrown in there. How do you pronounce his last name? Pal-a-nak? Pal-ani-yuk?
Favorite Author: Fatima Mernissi
God what a woman. This Moroccan feminist made waves that splashed onto both sides of the Mediterranean. Born into a harem while the French colonial rule was waning, her story sheds light on a unique period in history. In Dreams of Trespass, she weaves together the innocent stories of her childhood with the insights she has gained through adulthood. In Scheherazade Goes West, Mernissi gives the Western world what it had coming, criticizing its tendency to fetishize harems and therefore their inherent oppression. And finally, in Doing Daily Battle she turns the spotlight onto the poor and struggling women in Morocco through a series of hard-hitting interviews. Due to its popularity, I haven’t even been able to lay my hands on her most famous book, Beyond the Veil. Hopefully that’ll come next year.
Biggest Disappointment: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
I’d describe this book as 200 pages of erotic foreplay and 600 more of uncomfortable post-coital chatter. A few years ago I read the first half of the book and then got distracted. I should have just left it at that. But I picked it back up, wanting to see where the scintillating tale would take me. To church, apparently. About 3/4ths through, the story between the main lovers ends and Tolstoy tacks on an extra 200 pages about a side-character finding God, an addition so boring that even his original editor wouldn’t publish it. I found very little payoff for all the effort it took to read the damn thing.
Best Little-Known Non-Fiction: States and Women’s Rights by Mounira M Charrad
Because of their popularity, I sat myself down and read classics in non-fiction, A People’s History and Guns Germs and Steel. They are great and everyone read them, but I want to turn your attention to States and Women’s Rights by Charrad. It focuses on the colonial rule of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria and how differences in circumstances and population led to contrasting levels of freedoms granted to women in the three neighboring states as they were rebuilt in the post-colonial era. It gets into those dirty details of Amazight tribal codes and family law, and opened my eyes to the social and economic benefits that people historically found in having a strong patriarchal family structure.
So that’s it! Have you read any of these books? How did you feel about them? I’d love to compare notes. Also, if you have any suggestions for this year, let me know!