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Amaliah Book Club: What We’re Reading This October 2022

by in Culture & Lifestyle on 10th October, 2022

Another month, another Amaliah Book Club roundup! Here’s what the Amaliah team has been reading this month, an eclectic list including two sensational reads by Muslim women authors!

1. How to Do the Work: Recognise your patterns, Heal from your past + Create your self – Dr Nicole LePera

In How to Do the Work, Dr LePera offers readers the support and tools that will allow them to break free from destructive behaviours to reclaim and recreate their lives. Nothing short of a paradigm shift, this is a celebration of empowerment that will forever change the way we approach mental wellness and self-care.

I would say a tough read but a must read for anyone looking to rewire their mind from trauma, challenge and being in ‘survival mode’.

2. As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow – Zoulfa Katouh

A searing novel set in war-torn Syria, Katouh’s deeply powerful work centres around Salama and her agonising decision as to whether to flee her native country or stay and help those in danger.

I’d preordered it, but for the first time ever I’m actually savouring a book instead of devouring it. I’m reading one chapter at a time because I’m not ready for the heartbreak that will come through this story and Zoulfa’s gorgeous, gorgeous writing MashaAllah.

3. Suicide Club – Rachel Heng

Suicide Club is Singaporean author Rachel Heng’s debut novel. Set in a near future New York, Heng’s novel paints a picture of a gritty, dystopian world where lives last more than 300 years and immortality is the ultimate aim that everyone tries to pursue at all costs. Euthanasia and suicide are highly illegal and genetic perfection is enforced by the state. We are introduced to this world through Lea, a young woman of 130 years old who abides by every rule and is well on her way to achieving immortality. However, her path is thwarted by a chance meeting from someone in her past life and Lea must choose between her family and her chance to live forever.

The novel’s core conflict is convincing and interesting to compare to our current reality where it seems everyone is obsessed with trying to live as long as possible. I can easily see this being turned into a Netflix show and speaking of shows, if you’re a fan of Black Mirror, you’ll enjoy this!

4. Love Stories from the Qur’an – Yahya Adel Ibrahim

All of the love stories from the Quran have the connotation of birr, of protection, of qawwam, of endearment, of sacrifice, of acceptance, of allowing redemption and return after sin, of opening what others closed and uplifting those who others pushed down, to be the opposite of what is conventional, to be the oxymoron of the sinfulness that others display, and be the righteous rain of barakah into the heart and mind of those who are distant form Allah.

I want to understand love in the context of Islam and across our varied relationships. The book looks at love of a father, the concept of honesty in love and other familial relationships. If you’re looking for a light book to pop into your bag then I’d recommend this. I hate being stuck without a book so this is really good and you can re-visit the stories and learn different things. For each story they also have a section where they look at the lessons of each story, so I’d also use it in a halaqah format.

5. Dead-End Memories: Stories – Banana Yoshimoto

A collection of stories of five women who, following sudden and painful events discover their ways back to recovery.

The stories took on a reflective style where you know the protagonist is looking back on a life event, and though I sometimes enjoyed that style, there were moments where I wished I didn’t already know how things panned out for the women. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s searching for hope after bleak experiences.

6. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Who are you? What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren’t made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?

I really love how the book is written and it’s one of the best thrillers I’ve read! The characters are complex and although the plot is predictable (and spoilers are easy to find bc the book and movie are popular) I’m still enjoying the read and love the way the story is progressing.

7. Finding Mr Perfectly Fine – Tasneem Abdur-Rashid

When Zara’s Mum puts together the most archaic of arranged marriage resources (not exactly the romcom-worthy love story she had envisioned for herself), she is soon exhausted by her family’s failed attempts to set her up with every vaguely suitable Abdul, Ahmed and Farook that they can find. Zara decides to take matters into her own hands. How hard can it be to find a husband at twenty-nine?

With just a year to go, time is of the essence, so Zara joins a dating app and signs up for speed dating. She meets Hamza, a kind British Egyptian who shares her values and would make a good husband. Zara knows that not all marriages are based on love (or lust) at first sight but struggles with the lack of spark. Particularly when she can’t stop thinking of someone else . . .

It’s a light hearted and warming read about a Bengali Muslim woman’s journey to finding her partner. It’s funny, honest and feels like I’m sitting with a friend as she navigates life! She navigates online dating, pressure from family, being an unmarried Muslim woman and having to go from zero male intimacy and connection to suddenly decision making who is the one!

8. All About Love – bell hooks

All About Love offers radical new ways to think about love by showing its interconnectedness in our private and public lives. In eleven concise chapters, hooks explains how our everyday notions of what it means to give and receive love often fail us, and how these ideals are established in early childhood. She offers a rethinking of self-love (without narcissism) that will bring peace and compassion to our personal and professional lives, and asserts the place of love to end struggles between individuals, in communities, and among societies. Moving from the cultural to the intimate, hooks notes the ties between love and loss and challenges the prevailing notion that romantic love is the most important love of all.

Amaliah Team

Amaliah Team

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