Tuesday, 20 October 2015

On My Bookshelf




I promised myself I would make more time for reading, so this past couple of weeks I read two really inspirational and thought-provoking books. 

BRICK WALLS, TALES OF HOPE AND COURAGE FROM PAKISTAN
SAADIA FARUQI

saadia faruqi

While this is an anthology of fictional short stories set in modern  day Pakistan, the characters feel so real ad have such depth that it is almost difficult to believe that these are not actual biographical accounts. The seven stories revolve around very different individuals from all walks of life, ranging from a ten year old budding feminist who dreams of playing cricket, a grumpy but purposeful old lady, a falsely convicted prison inmate, a wealthy college student who discovers what the other half live like to a would-be suicide bomber. 

While the various protagonists differ in age, gender, socio-economic status and in their political and religious outlooks, what all these characters share is an exceptional display of courage and bravery in the face of extremely trying circumstances and a sense of hope that they will overcome their varying challenges. The Pakistani American author does not shy away from controversial subjects and her characters provide some insight into a country facing unique challenges and challenges preconceived notions of the people of this country. Despite depicting characters in the harshest of circumstances, she is able to paint a picture of the beauty of humanity in even the most trying of times.

I could not put this one down once I started it and I hope that the author considers extending some of these stories into full stand-alone novels as the stories are so compelling that they deserve to be showcased individually.  

HOW TO BE A HAPPY MUSLIM, INSHA'ALLAH
SHEIMA SALAM SUMER

sheima salam sumer

I had never before come across a self-help book written from a Muslim perspective, so I thought this one would be interesting, especially given that the author is a professional counselor with a Master's degree in Counselor Education.

Happiness is of course something we all strive towards and a manual to attaining happiness is something that most people could use.

This is a short, easy read with many pearls of wisdom, most of which apply universally to people of all religions. Indeed, the recommendations at the beginning of the book come from people of all faiths, including an Anglican priest and various medical professionals.

The suggestions for attaining happiness in this book seem sensible to me and are set out in a simple and easy to follow fashion. There are little 'Happiness Hints' along the way, almost like little takeaway nuggets of wisdom for quick absorption. While the main ideas involve prayer and teaching yourself to be a calm and positive thinker, other interesting topics covered include physical health (with the author setting out her journey to weight loss) and even a chapter on Islam and the Law of Attraction (as set out in the Rhonda Byrne book that we all know and love).

Simple and to the point, I am sure this book will provide answers to many seeking to make a positive difference in their lives.