Thursday, September 4, 2014

August Book Reviews

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

If you only read one book this summer, it should be this. Absolutely blew my mind. And it was my third attempt at it, too, not because the beginning is slow (it sucked me in immediately) but because I wasn't in the right place to read it before. Old magic (jinnis and demons) mixes with new magic (computer hacking) mixes with romance and adventure and Middle Eastern culture. I loved every bit of it, and after reading the copy from my library I immediately went out and bought my own. I had a stranger come up to me on train platform while I was reading to tell me how much she loved the book as well. Any book that gives you a heartfelt squee moment with a total stranger is something special.

The Butterfly Mosque by G. Willow Wilson

Picked this up after Alif because I loved the Middle Eastern culture so much and I wanted more. I rarely say this about nonfiction books, but this was too short. I've tried looking for other books to explain Islam and the cultural differences between the US and the Middle East, but sadly I've come up short. Everything is either hokey or academic, nothing in between.

I loved seeing the differences between Egypt and America outlined here. Even though I live here, everything is so familiar that I never really thought about it. For instance, Egypt is very family-centric, parties and such are always full of cousins and aunts and uncles, but America considers close friends as family, something that was in contrast when the author and a family friend shared a hug and kiss hello.

I was also really intrigued with the ways she and her husband smoothed over the cultural differences. As someone newly thrown into the ridiculous hoops of this whole marriage business (paperwork is very likely the death of romance), I liked seeing how they meshed and clashed. I would have liked more detail about their conversations, arguments, and resolutions but this seemed like a topic where the author wanted her privacy. Fair enough. If you are interested in different cultures, definitely check this out. I'd love to read more fantasy books (and non-fantasy) with a Middle Eastern setting, especially by Middle Eastern authors. Any recommendations?

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

This book was nice and light while still managing to talk about academics and the science behind DNA and biology (and magic). A love story more than anything else, I enjoyed the research and the sojourn in France the best. It's Twilight for adults! But don't let that turn you off, I did enjoy it (people give Twilight way too bad a rap). I'll read the second one eventually, but I want a break first. This book was surprisingly dense to read for being such a light story. This is a great vacation book, if anyone has a summer vacation left!

No comments:

Post a Comment