Fiction and Nonfiction on Modern Muslim life

This is not a political blog or a religious one. Go elsewhere if you want to argue politics or religion. If you want to talk upping librarian salaries, that’s fine–stick around.

Today I’m presenting some of the books I’ve enjoyed and learned from that cover modern Muslim life. There are so many misconceptions, so many assumptions and generalities about that faith.


First a look at the top 1% of income in the Muslim Middle East–Royalty.Noor

Lisa Halaby, an American Muslin, entered into a cross-generational marriage with the late King Hussein of Jordan. This is a surprising book in so many ways. In America we don’t often think of love and respect in a Muslim marriage–particularly not with a man much older and previously married. She was not child bridge–she’s a Princeton grad who has worked tirelessly for the women and children of Jordan. Leap of Faith by Queen Noor of Jordan.


KingdomI read the earlier, 1982, edition and was mesmerized. This was a ground-breaking book, like Hedrick Smith’s the Russian’s was for the Soviet Union. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a fascinating country. Sharia law, enormous income disparity, power in the hands of one family–it just simply fascinates me. This book dissects the kingdom, breaks it down into smaller, intelligible components. There’s the absurdities Americans cannot fathom like arranged marriages and grown women having to take their 7 year old son along to go out in public. There’s the trememndous economic growth the country has undergown in the last century. And, of course, there is the strategic position of the country sitting atop the oil the entire developed world relies upon. Inside the Kingdom by Robert Lacey.

Princess Jean

This is actually the first of the author’s 4 or 5 book series. Sultana’s life is totally controlled by the men in her family and their religion.  Put another way, if you subtract the possible polygamy, you have life as the Duggars would have it be lived in America, albeit with more money than can ever be imagined. Women are on Earth for ONE purpose–to satisfy men’s lust. That’s that. Enjoy. The way the women cope is often ingenious. Creativity often thrives in oppressive societies. The women let almost nothing stop them doing what they want–they just figure out creative ways to get what they want while abiding with the letter of the law, if not the spirit of it. I have read the first three books multiple times. I’m positive the men’s version would be quite different. Princess by Jean Sasson.

Now a list of novels and other books. I won’t annotate them all–there are too many. But I’ve enjoyed them all, though all are not happy or positive. Click the links to view the Amazon review–I do not make any money off your clicks.

Girls of Riyadh  girls


Thousand Splendid Suns


Perfect Gentleman [non-fiction]


Bookseller of Kabul [non-fiction]


In the Land of Invisible Women [non-fiction]


Dressmaker of Khair Khana [non-fiction]


The Good Daughter [non-fiction]


Reluctant Fundamentalist


Kabul Beauty School [non-fiction]



Do you have others for this list? Feel free to leave me a comment about books on this topic that you’ve enjoyed.


3 thoughts on “Fiction and Nonfiction on Modern Muslim life

  1. sjbraun

    Excellent list and great resource. I should read Queen Noor’s book; I don’t know a lot about her but what I do know is intriguing. I recommend “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus,” which I reviewed today. Really thoughtful book by a former muslim.


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