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Month 6: Religion
Read a book featuring a character who has a different religion than yours.
In the Presence of My Enemies by
Soon after September 11, the news media stepped up its coverage of Martin and Gracia Burnham, the missionary couple held hostage in the Philippine jungle by terrorists with ties to Osama bin Laden. After a year of captivity and a violent rescue that resulted in Martin's death, the world watched Gracia Burnham return home in June 2002. In this riveting personal account, Burnham tells for the very first time the real story behind the news-about their harrowing ordeal, about how it affected their relationship with each other and with God, about the terrorists who held them, about the actions of the U.S. and Philippine governments, and about how they were affected by the prayers of thousands of Christians throughout the world.
The Hiding Place by
Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch watchmaker who became a heroine of the Resistance, a survivor of Hitler's concentration camps, and one of the most remarkable evangelists of the twentieth century. In World War II she and her family risked their lives to help Jews and underground workers escape from the Nazis, and for their work they were tested in the infamous Nazi death camps. Only Corrie among her family survived to tell the story of how faith ultimately triumphs over evil.
Soul Surfer by
They say Bethany Hamilton has saltwater in her veins. How else could one explain the tremendous passion that drives her to surf? How else could one explain that nothing - not even the loss of her arm in a horrific shark attack - could come between her and the waves? That Halloween morning in Kauai, Hawaii Bethany responded to the shark's stealth with a calmness beyond belief. Pushing pain and panic aside, she immediately thought: 'Get to the beach...' Rushed to the hospital, where her father, Ted Hamilton, was about to undergo knee surgery, Bethany found herself taking his spot in the operating theatre. When the first thing Bethany wanted to know after surgery was 'When can I surf again?' it became clear that her unfaltering spirit and determination were part of a greater story - a tale of courage and faith that this modest and soft-spoken girl would come to share with the world.
The Lemon Tree by
In 1967, Bashir Al-Khayri, a Palestinian twenty-five-year-old, journeyed to Israel, with the goal of seeing the beloved old stone house, with the lemon tree behind it, that he and his family had fled nineteen years earlier. To his surprise, when he found the house he was greeted by Dalia Ashkenazi Landau, a nineteen-year-old Israeli college student, whose family fled Europe for Israel following the Holocaust. On the stoop of their shared home, Dalia and Bashir began a rare friendship, forged in the aftermath of war and tested over the next thirty-five years in ways that neither could imagine on that summer day in 1967. Based on extensive research, and springing from his enormously resonant documentary that aired on NPR's Fresh Air in 1998, Sandy Tolan brings the Israeli-Palestinian conflict down to its most human level, suggesting that even amid the bleakest political realities there exist stories of hope and reconciliation. With a new introduction by the author. Sandy Tolan is the author of Me & Hank: A Boy and His Hero, Twenty-five Years Later. He has written extensively for magazines and newspapers, and has produced dozens of documentaries for National Public Radio and Public Radio International. He was a 1993 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and an I. F. Stone Fellow at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, where he teaches international reporting.
The Complete Maus by
On the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of its first publication, here is the definitive edition of the book acclaimed as "the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust" (Wall Street Journal) and "the first masterpiece in comic book history" (The New Yorker). The Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father's story. Maus approaches the unspeakable through the diminutive. Its form, the cartoon (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), shocks us out of any lingering sense of familiarity and succeeds in "drawing us closer to the bleak heart of the Holocaust" (The New York Times). Maus is a haunting tale within a tale. Vladek's harrowing story of survival is woven into the author's account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. Against the backdrop of guilt brought by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits. This astonishing retelling of our century's grisliest news is a story of survival, not only of Vladek but of the children who survive even the survivors. Maus studies the bloody pawprints of history and tracks its meaning for all of us.
Burnt Bread and Chutney by
In a coming-of-age memoir, a woman of Indian-Jewish ancestry details growing up in Israel and New York City as a member of two distinctly different cultures, describing her awkward adolescence as she dealt with her unique cultural identity and learned to combine ancient tradition and modern attitudes.
Managing Bubbie by
Her devoted family only wants the best for their Bubbie. Mostly they want to ensure that their matriarch's twilight years are spent in comfort, safety, and serenity. But how do you manage an aging, immutably stubborn Holocaust survivor who has risen above the squalor of Poland's ghettos; fled across the war-torn German wilderness; and survived the winter-ravaged Pyrenees alone on foot with three children? You probably don't. Managing Bubbie is the heartrending, hilarious family memoir by Russel Lazega that recounts the frequently hectic, ever-exhausting trials of one Jewish family in Miami Beach as they try to oversee the care of the elderly, unmanageable Lea Lazega. As they scramble for an acceptable assisted living facility and struggle to get her medication in line, they discover the difficulties of controlling a woman who time and again eluded catastrophe by refusing to be told what to do. A tapestry of an American family in the 1980s, Managing Bubbie also revisits the Holocaust period to mine the love, hope, and humor that emerged from the deepest despair. Anyone who savors a soft heart with a sharp funny bone will laugh, cry, and commiserate with the confounded family who must manage their beloved, impossible Bubbie.
When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a prosperous Syrian-American and father of four, chose to stay through the storm to protect his house and contracting business. In the days after the storm, he traveled the flooded streets in a secondhand canoe, passing on supplies and helping those he could. A week later, on September 6, 2005, Zeitoun abruptly disappeared. Eggers’s riveting nonfiction book, three years in the making, explores Zeitoun’s roots in Syria, his marriage to Kathy -- an American who converted to Islam -- and their children, and the surreal atmosphere (in New Orleans and the United States generally) in which what happened to Abdulrahman Zeitoun was possible. Like What Is the What, Zeitoun was written in close collaboration with its subjects and involved vast research -- in this case, in the United States, Spain, and Syria.
Originally published to wide critical acclaim in France, where it elicited comparisons to Art Spiegelman's Maus, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's wise, funny, and heartbreaking memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran's last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country. Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran: of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life and of the enormous toll repressive regimes exact on the individual spirit. Marjane’s child's-eye-view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a stunning reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, through laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.
The Butterfly Mosque by
The extraordinary story of an all-American girl's conversion to Islam and her ensuing romance with a young Egyptian man, The Butterfly Mosque is a stunning articulation of a Westerner embracing the Muslim world. When G. Willow Wilson--already an accomplished writer on modern religion and the Middle East at just twenty-seven--leaves her atheist parents in Denver to study at Boston University, she enrolls in an Islamic Studies course that leads to her shocking conversion to Islam and sends her on a fated journey across continents and into an uncertain future. She settles in Cairo where she teaches English and submerges herself in a culture based on her adopted religion. And then she meets Omar, a passionate young man with a mild resentment of the Western influences in his homeland. They fall in love, entering into a daring relationship that calls into question the very nature of family, belief, and tradition. Torn between the secular West and Muslim East, Willow records her intensely personal struggle to forge a "third culture” that might accommodate her own values without compromising the friends and family on both sides of the divide.
Daring to Drive by
Publication Date: 2017-06-13
A memoir by a Saudi Arabian woman who became the unexpected leader of a movement to support women's rights describes how fundamentalism influenced her radical religious beliefs until her education, a job, and legal contradictions changed her perspectives.
Muslim Girl by
At nine years old, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh watched from her home in New Jersey as two planes crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. That same year, she heard her first racial slur. At age eleven, when the United States began their invasion in Iraq and the television was flooded with anti-Muslim commentary, Amani felt overwhelmed with feelings of intense alienation from American society. At thirteen, her family took a trip to her father's native homeland of Jordan, and Amani experienced firsthand a culture built on the true peaceful nature of Islam in its purest form, not the Islamic stereotypes she heard on the news. Inspired by her trip, and after years of feeling like her voice as a Muslim woman was marginalized and neglected by Western media during a time when all it could talk about was, ironically, Muslim women, Amani created a website called MuslimGirl. As the editor in chief, she put together a team of Muslim women and started a life dedicated to activism. Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age is the extraordinary account of Amani's journey through adolescence as a Muslim girl, from the Islamophobia she's faced on a daily basis to the website she launched that became a cultural phenomenon, to the nation's political climate in the 2016 election cycle with Donald Trump as the Republican nominee. While dispelling the myth that a headscarf is a signifier for radicalism or oppression, she shares both her own personal accounts and anecdotes from the sisterhood of writers that serve as her editorial team at MuslimGirl.
Children of Dust by
From Eteraz's schooling in a madrassa in Pakistan to his teenage years as a Muslim American in the Bible Belt, and back to Pakistan to find a pious Muslim wife, this saga captures the heart of our universal quest for identity.
Climbing the Mango Trees by
The enchanting autobiography of the seven-time James Beard Award-winning cookbook author and acclaimed actress who taught America how to cook Indian food. Whether climbing the mango trees in her grandparents' orchard in Delhi or picnicking in the Himalayan foothills on meatballs stuffed with raisins and mint, tucked into freshly baked spiced pooris, Madhur Jaffrey's life has been marked by food, and today these childhood pleasures evoke for her the tastes and textures of growing up. Following Jaffrey from India to Britain, this memoir is both an enormously appealing account of an unusual childhood and a testament to the power of food to prompt memory, vividly bringing to life a lost time and place. Also included here are recipes for more than thirty delicious dishes from Jaffrey's childhood.
In Hanuman's Hands by
"I can do nothing more for you. You are now in Hanuman's hands." These are the words author Cheeni Rao hears his Indian immigrant mother sob as he stands locked outside his family home. A brilliant, promising young man who is the product of a devout Hindu family from a long line of Brahmin priests, Rao has been reduced to the life of a homeless drug addict and petty criminal on the back streets of Chicago's Southside. The freedoms and temptations of life on an elite American college campus send Rao spiraling down into a hedonistic nightmare of drugs, sex, and crime. Desperate and alone, he is visited by Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god his mother evoked, and comes to realize that this unlikely guide may be his last resort. On his long journey to recovery, Rao is guided by visions of this clever, divine monkey, best known from the Indian epic poem, the Ramayana. In Hanuman's Hands is a gritty, hauntingly beautiful memoir. Bringing India whole-heartedly into America, Rao weaves his own story of Western culture clash with mythic tales of his Hindu ancestors who served in the ancestral temples of Kali. With Hanuman as his loyal companion, the author finds his way back to recovery at a halfway house run by a mug named Tats and shared by an unforgettable gang of streetwise characters. In Hanuman's Hands is a striking debut from a new literary voice.