“A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini

  O.U.T.S.T.A.N.D.I.N.G!

Khaled Hosseini takes you through the life stories of two women of varied backgrounds, brought together by the intense politics of Afghanistan. The plots are carefully narrated making it a wonderfully absorbing read.

This book is way beyond my ability of giving a fair review. It’s a beautiful work of art. Indulge in it yourselves and judge..   

 

If you’ve read a book that comes close enough to the beauty of this book, please share 🙂

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“Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert

Thought provoking, spiritually enlightening, pleasure revitalising with a touch of humor throughout!

This book could well be anyone’s journey, the only thing the author does is that she dwells in the split of a second moment, enjoying, contemplating, reviewing, all complemented with perfect choice of words, amazing details and thrilling style of writing!

Elizabeth Gilbert goes into a journey of self discovery after a traumatic divorce. She lands in Italy for sheer pleasure, in India for mere devotion and to Indonesia for the balance between pleasure and devotion.

In Italy, it’s pleasure, pleasure and more pleasure throughout in the form of food and language! How digestible this part is, you literally gain a few Kg’s just reading and picturing her mouth-watering description of food. She is also on a mission to learn Italian, mostly through interaction with the natives, which in itself is an interesting voyage full of ciaos and attraversiamos, Haha!

In India, she looks for spirituality and devotion in an Ashram (secluded place of worship) with rigorous spiritual routines. Although this chapter is all about what I exactly don’t believe in and even find hard to digest, she relays her story in a manner that makes you live in an Ashram yourself. I literally started looking around for every tiny little beautiful thing to cherish, so it wasn’t necessary all opposing stuff, it just opens your eyes to beautiful things that already exist in Islam.

She mentions Islam and Christianity with relation to Hinduism and spirituality, I do not think she got all facts right. One example, 

“….you may use your Yoga -your disciplined practices of sacred union- to get closer to Krishna, Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha or Yahweh” (p.128)

First and foremost, she got the basics wrong, because unlike Christians we aim to get closer to the One and Only God and not his messenger Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). We do however strive to follow the way the prophet lived. Secondly, I may be mistaken, but I do not think Muslims perform yoga to get closer to Allah (!) haven’t heard of any at least!

I came out from this chapter with one solid conclusion. These Ashram-Monk-Yoga-Guru beliefs confirm that if you are to connect with God you need to disconnect yourself from the outer civilized modern world. You could imagine how our lives would be if we were all monks, gurus and yogis. There would either be (a) no civilization whatsoever, we all live in caves meditating or else (b) prayers and meditation should only be carried out in certain times of the year! I appreciate my religion for having us build a good balance of both pleasure and devotion.

In Indonesia, Liz goes searching for balance in her life, there she be-friends a medicine man and a lady healer. This Indonesia journey does not seem to really fulfill the “balance” aspect and I do not really understand the reasons behind her long hours of sitting with the medicine man.  The most exciting part about this last trip is that with the claimed balance she found love!

A true page turner..

One last word, this book like others is not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s highly recommended for those who question their mind, soul and heart in certain matters, and also enjoy reading memoirs. Not so for people who are looking for rich literature, guide to the countries visited or humanitarian issues. Oh and it is definitely not meant to be a man’s book at all!

to read..

 

Five books by my bed all shouting “read me!”… wondering where do I start?

Read the book? Any insights?

Enlighten me please 🙂

“Beautiful Child” by Torey Hayden

I bought this book when I was on a year long off-work leave, and needed just that thread to keep me in touch with my speech therapist self. Yet, and for no obvious reasons I kept the book aside and never got to read it until almost 2 years later when I had already gone back to work. You know when even the simplest of things happen and at the time you wondered why, but when you see the end-result you extol the Creator for drawing every little detail of your life in perfect order?  (Subhan Allah) I’m currently working with a similar case in clinic, this book came in the very right time. I’ve been walking miles of success with this little boy (here) and this book should take some credit for this. Anyway, back to the book:

Torey Hayden, the author, writes about her experiences of working with children with special needs in a number of books, this is one of them. Here she relays her story when she was the teacher in charge of a classroom with children who had behavioural problems. Venus Fox was this little girl who never spoke. She did not utter one word and no one knew why. Amid this verbal and social solitude, she would also have sudden outbursts of aggressive behaviour towards other innocent children. Torey intervenes in every possible way but nothing seems to work. What makes this teacher special is that she’s wholly dedicated and totally committed.  Along with Venus (the mute child), Torey has other students who are very challenging, a classroom where kicking, fist fighting, swearing becomes a daily routine. Her ways of treating the problem and disciplining the children is very unusual and atypical, thus causing clashes with the teacher assistant. She’s overwhelmed with all the drama in the class but never gives “surrender” a chance.

My thoughts on the book:

  • If this is a true story and all the facts are correct, I salute Torey, she’s truly gifted for whole-heartedly reaching out for the disadvantaged. She is compassionate, loving, caring, creative and fun!   
  • Very inspirational, particularly because I work with children with special needs. 
  • Amid the gloom and bloom, the author would throw shots of humor that leaves you laughing out loud.
  • Detailing everyday routine gave me a hint of boredom, made me want to read the book from the back at times (but I didn’t)
  • When you think you know the end of the story but just read for the sake of reading, that is when the actual drama starts, and it’s quite a page turner rush then, couldn’t resist the urge and finished the last 2 or 3 chapters in one read.
  • Highly recommend the book for teachers, therapists and anyone who is involved with a child with special needs.

فلسطين.. التاريخ المصور – للدكتور.طارق السويدان

كتاب رائع و مجهود يشكر بل يثاب عليه باذن الله الدكتور طارق السويدان، يأخذك في رحلة تاريخية للأرض المقدسة  عبر العصور و الأزمنة بأسلوب شيق يتميز بالرقي
 ملاحظاتي العابرة عن الكتاب
ما جذبني في الكتاب انه ليس عبارة عن قصة يسردها الكاتب، و لا كتاب تاريخ مفصل انما تقدم اليك الحقائق و الأرقام عبر فقرات بسيطة، يسهل قرائتها و الرجوع الى فقرة معينة متى شأت 
أسلوب الكاتب شيق الى أقصى حد، ما ان انتهيت من قراءة فقرة ظني انها الأشوق الا و أرى الفقرة التي تليها أشوق و أشوق و هكذا. أحيي الدكتور على هذا السرد الرائع
نجح الكاتب في احياء ذكرى بعض المواقف التاريخية العصيبة على الأمة، حتى ان عيني (العصية الدمع دائما) ذرفت قطرات حارقة على فتات أمة كانت الأعظم يوما ما
يبتعد الكاتب أشد البعد عن الحياد في سرد التاريخ وهو بالنسبة لي كقارئة عربية مسلمة يتوازى مع مشاعري و أحاسيسي بالقضية، انما لقارئ غربي أو غير مسلم فلا
يبتذل الكاتب بعض المذاهب الدينية في السياق و يمتدح أخرى، أرى ذلك يتنافى و بشكل كبير مع مغزى الكتاب، فان قضية فلسطين هي قضية كل مسلم و عربي، فمشارعرنا تجاهها متساوية. الم يقف الطيب اردوغان امام اوحش وحوش العالم مستميتا و مدافعا عن قضيتنا؟ الم تثبت حزب الله رجولتها عندما تقهقر جيش العدو كالنعامة يبكي الرجل فيها كطفل أخذت منه لعبته؟ 
 بعد قراءة الكتاب لا زالت تحوم في رأسي أفكار و تساؤلات، اكثرها غرابة و اقولها على استحياء: اننا نبكي على أرض مباركة أخذوها منا بالقوة ندعي بانها أرضنا من أزل الأزل. بالضبط كما بكى النصارى عندما أخذناها نحن أيام المغوار صلاح الدين الأيوبي و هم كذلك يدعون بانها أرضهم، فلماذا البكاء و العويل الآن؟ أليست مشاعر اليهود تجاه ما يدعوها أرضهم، بالضبط مثل مشاعرنا أيام الدولة العثمانية؟؟ و أليس من حقهم الدفاع عنها كما دفع صلاح الدين الغالي و النفيس من أجلها؟
الجواب من نظري هو اننا و مذ نعومة أظافرنا ندرس في المدارس و نسهب في الذكر بان اليهود هم رأس الشر و هم من اغتصبوا أرض مباركة (كانت لنا) عنوة. و انا اتفق مع هذا كليا و لكن أتسائل أكان هذا سيحدث لو كان صلاح الدين بيننا؟ أليس هو من قهر العدو يوما ما و تركهم يبكون أرضهم (أرض فلسطين). فالكل ينسب أرض المقدس له (فاليهود و النصارى يدعون أنها أرضهم مثلنا تماما). اذاً، اذا كنا نؤمن أنها أرضنا و حقنا فيها أكثر من اليهود فلماذا البكاء على غشامة العدو؟ فنحن (العرب و المسلمين) من خذلناك يا قلب الأمة، نحن من هديناك للغاصب يمرح فيك ليل نهار. و الأجدر الآن أن نذكر في تاريخ المناهج الدراسية هفواتنا، و اننا نحن من قدمنا فلسطين هدية غالية على طبق من ذهب للمغتصب. لعل و عسى أن يأتي جيل جديد و نصحو من غفلتنا قبل أن نقع كلنا في قبضة العدو يوما ما 
 

اكتفي الآن بقول: خذلنــــــــاك يــــا قلب الأمة، خذلنـــــــــــاك

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari (Robin S. Sharma)

This book takes you through this captivating journey of a top notch lawyer who goes to a soul replenishing experience in the Himalayas after realising that his health touched rock bottom.

Here is what I thought about the book:

  • I thought the story itself was “yes” awe-inspiring but it lacked that particular factor that keeps your reading drive steady.  It can get pretty boring at times!
  • I somehow found the language he used interesting. I liked how he relays a message in a twisted phrase, but I must say I’m not sure everyone would find the pleasure  in that sort of writing.
  • You can certainly feel the writer’s hidden intention to make you believe that a certain lifestyle/religion (as I took it) is better for you! This made me appreciate my religion Islam so much, because I can easily say that 95% of the things the writer calls for is found in Islam! If I have the time to re-read the book I’ll go back and summarise those facts and their existence in Islam.
  • The spiritual ingredients this book calls for are elements we’ve heard over and over again, but it helps you find those ingredients from deep within and re-put them on the surface to act upon. One great example, is how self-less we should be and the pleasure you get out of it. Very rewarding! Specially @ work with my children (my patients)!
  • I’ve learnt to phrase what I think in a better way. For example, “Is your cup full or empty?” – Don’t expect to take in new information or learn new things if you think you know it all. Another example and a nice one “Your mind is your garden”, so make sure you feed it with the right “healthy” nutrition. Do not intoxicate it with negative or bad thoughts.

 

  • Has it changed me in any way? “Yes”to say the least, this blog is one example! This book drove me to find a corner for printing down my thoughts.
  • Will I remember and act upon everything I read? I doubt it.