Monday, 21 July 2014
A post about something other than makeup, yay! Let us hope this is the beginning of a new chapter in my blogging aspirations (see 'My Blog and I') to have my blog encapsulate an array of topics as they enter my mind.  I have been dry of inspiration particularly whilst I have been away at uni but having bought new books at the start of summer (as is the tradition) that I am particularly excited about, I thought it would be something nice to share with my readers.



A bit of background

I used to devour books through secondary school, I kept a book list one particular school year which came to around 70 titles. Peculiarity enough I was not particularly well acquainted with neither a Library nor bookshops. My general source of books being my equally, if not more, enthusiastic friend who piled me with books at the beginning of each week insisting that I 'have GOT to read this, this, this and this!!'

Needless to say the genres I explored merged with hers. While I was infinitely grateful, three years on I figured that they were not to my taste and decided it was high time I actively looked for titles and authors that better suited my 'bent of min' dare I say? However as I began to invest time and energy into my academics, I had little left for leisurely reading. Regretfully, even to this day, I cannot pick up a book without experiencing a twang of guilt. The point I am trying to get across is that I am still 'exploring', that my choices are still somewhat naive and inexperienced. 

So anyway, away with the waffle, let's jump right in. 

1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath




I imagine a great many of your are well aware of American poet, Sylvia Plath, her private and professional background and of this book. Personally I only came across her with the advent of the 50th anniversary of her tragic death when the media was awash with stories related to her romanticized life. Catching little snippets here and there I was intrigued enough to do a little background research and it caught on, surprise surprise. 

The Bell Jar is Plath's only book, published in 1963, an autobiographical account of her battle with depression through a fictional character. I look forward to envisioning the world through her words, experiencing her trip into a psychological abyss as is promised by some excellent reviews. I was a little tentative approaching this book at first but I suppose my fascination overcame my caution.

I should also add that I particularly revel in artistic, poetic literature, books written with an elegant, artistic flair not simply a good story line. It follows that a book written by a poet would be irresistible.

I have yet to fully delve into her poetry but I have discovered a true gem of a Twitter account dedicated to her work, where snippets are posted regularly. If you haven't already done so, I highly recommend to check it out @itssylviaplath.


2. The  Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng





This next one was something I happened to pick up in store whilst browsing. I suppose the first thing that drew me to it was the authors East Asian origin. Tan Twan Eng is from Malaysia, and the book itself based in Malaya, 1949. I kind of have this thing with that region of the world, it fascinates me for no particular reason and I have always been drawn to related works.

Once again described as being of sophisticated in language and having a multi-faceted approach, the book is focused heavily on mind, on memory, on an internal battle faced by a main character whilst she revisits her harrowing past as opposed to actual events. Again, it is a book that is sworn by many to leave a lasting impression on the reader - I look forward to it.


3. Reclaim You Heart - Yasmin Mogahed





Another beautiful soul, Yasmin Mogahed is a name that kept propping up, even before I followed her on social media. Her quotes are empowering and self-evaluative and a little background research shows she is a woman with impressive credentials, supplementary videos, articles, public speeches and bounds of personal experience. She writes about spiritual empowerment, about overcoming personal, emotional hurdles, and making peace with yourself.

From what I have read of the reviews, a great many people, women in particular have found solace in her writing from grief, from hurt. She is a Muslim woman, a role-model I should say, writing from an Islamic perspective, her book is endowed with verses of the Qu'ran and prophetic hadith, that serve as references, reminders and add further depth to the book. Having said that, there are many people who are not Muslims who have said that it has also helped them come to terms with a difficulty page in their lives so if you feel this is something you may be interested, I urge you not to shy away from it.



4. The Quran translated by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem




Continuing with the theme of religion, I have gotten myself this magnificent English translation of the Qu'ran. For those who are not aware, we are currently in the holy month of Ramadan on the Islamic calendar. The month in which Muslims all over the world fast and strive to spend more time and energy in prayer and worship. My hope was to study the book during this time. 

The Qu'ran, having remained unchanged since it was first revealed, in old Arabic so when translated resembles 'Shakespearean' English as we like to say, basically it is very difficult to decipher. In Haleem's version, he masterfully portrays it in modern English with additional information on side, retaining the deeper, spiritual value, the Qu'ran is special in its poetic qualities. There is a background to each chapter with the where's and why's of the revelation to put them into context and a general background to the Prophets life at the beginning of the book.

We have heard some of these phrases and stories before but to lift it directly out of the book with its corresponding Arabic text is sublime. It's a truly fascinating, enriching experience, it is a wonder I have never owned one before now.


5. Leather Notebook




Okay this is a bit of cheat, it is not a reading book, it's a writing one. I had to include it because it is just so pretty! It has soft feel to the cover and it smells like brand new shoes. I bought this with the intention to use for poetry. Yes, I do write poetry and have been doing so for years. In the past I have always written them on random scraps of paper, they would get shelved and collect dust, many lost. I wanted a book devoted to just that, to keep everything neat and together, voila!

It's rich earthy tone sets the perfect mood for intent musing and creates that 'old library' atmosphere. This book suits its purpose perfectly I think. Anyway I had bought two, one for both my self and my younger sister, who also writes. I hope they will be something we will cherish in the near future, full to the brim!

Concluding notes

And that is it folks, that is the literary edit for Summer 2014. If you have questions, or want a specific complete review on any of the books mentioned or better yet, if you have suggestions for me based on these, you can message me down below or catch me over on Facebook and Instagram. 

If you are curious about my poetry, head over to and follow me on Instagram where I have a dedicated account @cloudsandquills. I post new pieces on here as a write them, so they do come slow and steady.

Have a lovely day everyone,
Shamima
xx
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