Dhul-Hijjah 1441 Book Club Recap
Updated: Aug 2
Bismillahi ar-rahmani ar-rahim
Assalamu aleikum waramatulahi wabarakatuhu everyone!
Welcome to this month's book club edition. We have many books on the roster today. That said, the articles and books we actually discussed are not quite the following displayed. We briefly talked about "Suicide Notes" by Michael Thomas Ford, the Memoirs of JOB or Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, and "The Worst Best Man." In the coming months, we will expound on some of the books displayed insha'Allah since some of us are still reading many of the books listed. Some of the books listed have similar themes even if they are in different book genres; the unseen creatures of Allah living in the water. They are : The Kingdom of Copper, The Water Dancer, and More Myself.
Without any further delay, please grab your drink and enjoy reading our thoughts—brief or detailed—on the books selected insha'Allah. You can read the previous recap here.
Everyday Islam: An Easy and Peaceful Way of Life
Summary: Everyday Islam: An Easy And Peaceful Way Of Life takes the reader from the very start of the day and through the possible situations and interactions that may occur with the words of Allah ﷻ and the example of His Messenger ﷺ. Shumaysa Amatul Hadi Faruqi utilizes the translations of the Holy Quran and the authentic Hadeeth to emphasize the importance of practicing and implementing the teachings of Islam in our daily lives. Islam is beautiful and its wisdom is for our benefit and success, in this life and the next. A Muslim submits himself to Allah ﷻ and thus adopts Islam as part of his or her identity while making right conduct a priority in every situation. To this end, Everyday Islam seeks to provide a source of reference for the busy, modern Muslim man and woman in keeping Islam active in their lives.
The Productive Muslim: Where Faith Meets Productivity
Summary: Ever wondered if there's a practical way to lead a productive lifestyle that combines the best of Islamic tradition and modern psychology and science? In The Productive Muslim, Mohammed Faris, the founder of ProductiveMuslim.com, provides this practical framework that helps urban global Muslims lead a productive lifestyle - spiritually, physically, and socially.
Review: The book has many anecdotes and beautiful quotes. One of our favorite passages says: "As Michael Hart says in The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History: “My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in
history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels”."
A Temporary Gift: Reflections on Love, Loss and Healing
On Friday, August 16, 2013, twenty-six-year-old Amr Kassem attended a peaceful protest in Alexandria, Egypt along with thousands of others, rallying against the mass injustices taking place in the aftermath of the coup d’etat by the Egyptian military under the command of Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. As Kassem returned home to his family, an Egyptian army sniper shot and killed him, leaving a woman widowed and a child fatherless.A Temporary Gift is a record of journal entries written by Kassem’s widow, Asmaa Hussein, during the two years following his departure from this world.This book is about re-learning how to live in the face of immense trauma. It is a reminder that beyond the pain and darkness of loss there is still the potential of light in patience and constancy.
Review: The book provides ways to deal with a bruised soul Islamically.
Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices
Once Upon an Eid is a collection of short stories that showcases the most brilliant Muslim voices writing today, all about the most joyful holiday of the year: Eid! Eid: The short, single-syllable word conjures up a variety of feelings and memories for Muslims. Maybe it’s waking up to the sound of frying samosas or the comfort of bean pie, maybe it’s the pleasure of putting on a new outfit for Eid prayers, or maybe it’s the gift giving and holiday parties to come that day. Whatever it may be, for those who cherish this day of celebration, the emotional responses may be summed up in another short and sweet word: joy. The anthology will also include a poem, graphic-novel chapter, and spot illustrations.
Review: The stories are surprising.
But You LOOK Just Fine: Unmasking Depression, Anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder and Seasonal Affective
Part of summary: Often referred to as “a support group in a book”, the authors present a remarkable series of personal portraits and telling profiles, sharing the stories and experiences of men and women who each live with various mood disorders and mental health challenges. These poignant examples – once anonymous faces seen in a crowd, or perhaps within one’s own circle of family, friends or coworkers – will serve as a valuable reminder to those facing depression and anxiety disorders that they are not alone.
By making these individual stories available and familiar, there is hope that a greater understanding and awareness of those experiencing chronic and unseen challenges might be realized.
Review: The book provides many good ways to deal with a bruised soul in a secular way. Check it out.
The Library Clerk's e-Shop (French Edition)
Qari D. Fofana–– known as "Kerry" by her American friends, is a twenty-three-year-old Ivorian girl living in the United States. Dallas, to be precise. As a bit of a social introvert, Qari has always wanted to open an online book-coffee-tea shop. She has visions of living “the glamorous life,” which consists of reading books and working in her pajamas all week long. And for a short while, it seems like Qari’s dream of opening up that shop––as farfetched as it feels at times, will come true––until her work visa and I-20 expire. Afraid of being deported and disappointing her family back home, Qari comes up with a scheme to marry her American Muslim hot, handsome landlord––a kind man who has made his feelings for Qari known to her. However, soon enough, this too backfires.Faced with deportation, Qari packs her meager belongings and returns home to Ivory Coast, determined to make at least some of her ambitions materialize. Still, however, she soon realizes that a huge piece of her broken heart and deferred dreams remain back in the United States.The Library Clerk’s e-Shop is a story about friendship, lost and found love, the hardships of immigration, the love of books and culture, and of course, self-determination. Most of all, it is a tale about following your dreams, no matter where in the world they take you.
Such a Fun Age
Review: This is a modern day "The Help" story told by a Black writer. It's thought-provocative. Keep your eyes peeled for a stand alone review of the book soon insha'Allah.
The Empire of Gold
Review: The final chapter in The Daevabad Trilogy! One of the things, the book grapples with is ties of kinship especially those with pagan roots. It also deals with the unseen powers of Allah bestowed on creatures between the sky, the earth, earth and water. Ali turned out very laid back hmmm... Nahri was more likable in this final tome. Check it out.
Rating : 5/5
Review: The book has many beautiful quotes. It's also soulful, relatable, and beautifully written. While Alicia Augello-Cook is married to Swizz— A Muslim, the book doesn't delve in those touchy subjects. Keys is a polytheist but one who is very connected to her spiritual side. Loved the concepts that giving too much gatekeeping power to people who work for you is very toxic to an artist and a free spirit. We couldn't agree more. One thing to take away from the book is this: Trust your instincts (Fitra in Muslim Vernacular) and keep your authentic side intact and don't be/become a people pleaser.
A Favorite Quote: "The magic in any art is not only in its technique but in its authenticity."— Alicia Keys
Keep your eyes peeled for a stand alone review of the book soon insha'Allah.
The Worst Best Man
It was a good unique romance between a Brazilian wedding planner left at the altar several years before, and her new romantic's interest who is her almost brother-in-law from several years ago. Yes...Family drama...Yikes. That's why your husband's brother is not mahram to you. He can be a potential match Islamically. Though, in many cultures these things happen when one of the brothers has already passed away.
Anyway, to continue, the mentions of false gods even if in pleasantries was cringe worthy. They were some crude witty comebacks in the book even though it was a decent steamy romance. The book romance was subtle at times. Subtle deviousness is our preference when it comes to steamy romance novels. Finally, we liked the unique Brazilian culture that mirrors a little bit the West African culture.
Favorite quote : "Hope may spring eternal, prima, but deception will bite you in the ass."
Rating: Rating: 3.5/5
The Bromance Book Club (Book 1 & Book 2)
Once again, romance novels prove that they are not only about the luring intimate moments sprinkled about here and there in their pages. They also deal with social issues. These two tomes deal with married men who don't know how to please their wives. So, they turn to manuals (romance novels loved by women) to help them think like women and please them. They also deal with sexual harassment in the workplace among others. Good writing. The main issue with romance written by non-Muslims is that a practicing Muslim can't fully endorse the book as the romance is usually not halal and because of the mention of cringe worthy holidays or false gods. Besides that, the chemistry between the characters and their strong ambitions are usually on point.
The Wedding Date Series (Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, Book 4, and Book 5)
All the characters in each of the books know each other in some kind of way. In Book 1, Alexa, a mayor's chief of staff gets stuck with Drew in an elevator and a romance blooms after she becomes his plus one for a wedding he dreads; the marriage of his ex and one of his friend. The thing is, he is the one who dumped his ex. He has commitment issues. In Book 2, Drew's friend and coworker, Dr. Carlos Ibarra with his sister save Nikole from an unwanted proposal at a baseball game. In Book 3, Alexa's best friend Madeleine aka Maddie hooks up with Alexa's friend and coworker; Theo. From a booty call, the relationship progresses to a committed relationship. In Book 4, Maddie's mother gets a chance at love in English during a royal wedding. Finally, in book 5, Olivia, Alexa's sister (from book 1), finds love with a Senator. The book also touches on serious social issues as customary with romance novels.
Some of the books were tame (tease) while others satisfy the curiosity of the reader. It's easy to alienate readers when the intimate scenes become too graphic but this series achieved a good balance to keep its readership intact.
Series Rating: 4/5
House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City Book 1)
Part of the Summary: Sarah J. Maas's brand-new CRESCENT CITY series begins with House of Earth and Blood: the story of half-Fae and half-human Bryce Quinlan as she seeks revenge in a contemporary fantasy world of magic, danger, and searing romance.
Rating : 3.5/5
King of Scars
Summary: Face your demons...or feed them. The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, Nikolai must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.
Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha general, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.
Rating : 3.5/5
The Water Dancer
Mammy Wata (Water) is very popular in African folklore tales. She is a scary siren, mythologized pretty much. In this book, Coates tries a creative fiction spin-off tale with her character, Abolutionist Harriet Tubman and with unseen powers of the inhabitants of water. The story is heavy. Many passages you will have to re-listen to or re-read to understand the hidden messages. The Water Dancer also documents true stories of the inglorious tasking past of the USA.
Rating : 3.5/5
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
This is what happens when a story is told with first POV, readers want to read more on a character not disserted on a popular book. This book is about the earlier life of President Snow. Are we supposed to feel sorry for him now? It's good to humanize villains but doing it so, several books after the main story has been out is a bit anti-climatic.
Rating : 3.5/5
Heads of the Colored People
This book is about the wickedness people of color or human kind is prone to. The book was quite unsettling at times but brilliant and unique. Wonder why sometimes why some PoC don't always see eye to eye, pick this book to see how pettiness and passive agression can unravel people.
Rating : 4/5
An unique account of the Native Americans that is not cliché. However, as long as people associate other false gods to Allah they will never prevail in their struggle to dominate those more on the right path, yet still misguided.
Rating : 3.5/5
On the Come Up
This felt like a story of a fictional daughter of a popular rapper. Notorious BIG at times to be honest because of the chain with the crown. Bri can really rap. In fact, she had mad poetic lines. She is also facing many challenges at home and at school with their mom; a former drug addict struggling to provide for Bri and Bri's brother; a responsible and educated young man. But Bri also has grandeur complexes. In other words, she loves to be worshiped and can be very disdainful towards religion. Overall, a good read.
Rating : 3.5/5
Thank you for tuning in and reading. Dear Readers & Members, see you in
Muharram 1442 AH insha'Allah.
Our Usual Book Club Questions Are:
1. What did you like most?
2. What gave you pause?
3. What didn't you like?
4. What are your other thoughts?
5. What question (s) do you have for the author(s)?
6. What questions about the book(s) do you have for the moderator or other members of the discussion(s)?
We look forward to hearing from you.
G E T I N T O U C H !
Books, Teas & Coffees
Until next time, subhanaka Allahumma wa-bihamdika ash-hadu anla ilaha illa anta as-taghfiruka wa atoobu ilayka. (O Allah, You are free from every imperfection; praise be to You. I testify that there is no true god except You; I ask Your Pardon and turn to You in repentance.) Aameen.
The Fofky's Book Club