Friday, December 23, 2011

The Love List #11: Sumbul Ali-Karamali

Sumbul Ali-Karamali is the author of The Muslim Next Door: The Qu'ran, the Media, and That Veil Thing, a book that opens a window onto Islam, and the experience of being an American Muslim woman in particular, in a warm, sensitive, sometimes funny, and very, very smart way. Her book is frequently picked by local book clubs for a non-fiction title, and readers often come into the store after reading it wanting to tell us about all the things they learned and how much they enjoyed learning them.

Sumbul very kindly sent me a list of SEVENTEEN books that she loves. They are a mix of older and newer, fiction and non-fiction, pure fun and more serious, topical titles. While quite a few of them aren't currently on our shelves (though you can always place a special order, and the books will usually get to you in 2-5 days), many are available as Google eBooks. So, if you happen to be giving (or, perhaps, receiving!) a smartphone or tablet or other electronic goody in the next few days, you might want to give one of these titles a try. *the e-book edition is listed under "related editions" on the Kepler's site.*

This is Sumbul Ali-Karamali.


As I get older, I appreciate the authors who can make me laugh. I need laughter after listening to the news every day! Here are some of my favorites:

The Princess Bride 
by: William Goldman

So much funnier than the movie.

Good Omens 
by: Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett 

Simultaneously dark and hilarious.

Going Postal 
by: Terry Pratchett (or anything else by Terry Pratchett)

Funny in Farsi 
by: Firoozeh Dumas 

Laugh-aloud vignettes of the immigrant experience.

Mike and Psmith 
by: PG Wodehouse 

I read a lot of nonfiction, and much of it naturally relates to the field I’m in (Islamic studies). Here are a few of the books I’ve come across for lay readers – they’re enlightening and informative, but quite engaging:

Lost History 
by: Michael Hamilton Morgan

If only more people understood the information in this book…

by: Jonathan Curiel  

Fun-to-read examination of how the U.S. has been influenced by Islam and Islamic culture for centuries (and – surprise! – we’re still a democracy!). 

The Future of Islam 
by: John Esposito

Readable overview of some of the evolving debates, discussions, and discourses in Muslim communities worldwide. Stuff you never hear in our media. 

Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters 
by: Omid Safi  

In the U.S., the prophet of Islam is the least understood of all major religious figures. Professor Safi reflects sadly that there’s no book called “Chicken Soup for the Muslim Soul” and offers an academically sound biography and a discussion of Muhammad’s teachings. 

But I also love nonfiction that has nothing to do with religion:

The Code Book 
by: Simon Singh 

A history of the science of code-breaking. A page-turner, believe it or not!

Fermat’s Enigma 
by: Simon Singh 

A wonderful story even if you don’t like math.

Eats Shoots and Leaves
by: Lynne Truss

This book about grammar could also go in the section on books that make me laugh.

This Is Your Brain on Music
by: Daniel J. Levitin 

Fascinating for the trained musician as well as the casual listener.

And finally, historical fiction with a twist: 

The House of Silk 
by: Anthony Horowitz 

In the grand tradition of Arthur Conan Doyle.

by: A. S. Byatt 

One of the best novels I’ve ever read.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell 
by: Susanna Clarke  

Beautifully written, drily witty fantasy for grownups.

The Eyre Affair 
by: Jasper Fforde 

What happens when literature and reality merge? Find out in this first book of the Tuesday Next series.

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