Middle East Challenge

Monday, November 22, 2010

I have quietly picked a few challenges to join for this upcoming year of 2011. They are listed on my Challenges tab but I haven't written the introductory posts yet, because I didn't want to bombard my blog with all of them at once. However, I just finished my last test before Thanksgiving break, so I can catch up a little!

I became aware of this challenge thanks to the Zen Leaf, and I was instantly excited for a couple of reasons. First of all, I am going to participate in the 2011 South Asian Challenge hosted by S. Krishna's Books once the challenge begins in January. I have long been interested in the culture and especially the literature of India, so I was very excited to participate. However, my interest also includes the Middle East, which is not included in that challenge. Therefore, I was excited to find another challenge that would encourage me to read some of the Middle Eastern books on my TBR.

Secondly, (kind of a trivial, personal reason) I have in particular one book on my TBR that my dad has been trying to get me to read for years, The Haj by Leon Uris. I read about 200 pages of it (it's a chunker) and never picked it up again because I was reading it during a busy nightmare semester. As I will only have two classes next semester (hooray for graduating!) I thought maybe I would have more time to get through this one. Maybe I will eventually return it to him! Haha.

Anyway, enough about me... This challenge is hosted by Helen's Book Blog. It began August 1, 2010 and runs through July 31, 2011 (in honor of Ramadan). The books must be either by an author from one of the countries considered by Helen to be part of the Middle East (there are a few different ways of dividing it, and she explains the way she is using on her post) or take place in one of those countries. There are no levels - you can just decide how many books you would like to read!

I have tentatively selected four novels to read. First, The Haj by Leon Uris (of course). I've also heard good things about Reading Lolita in Tehran, and every time I go to the University library it jumps off the shelf at me, so I will be picking that one up as well. I think I'm going to have to read Lolita first, though, just so I feel like I can relate to the author! On the challenge's main page, I saw a link for a book called Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye. I used to love her poems when I was younger, so I am looking forward to revisiting her work. I might have to read some of her poems again as well, because I can't remember them - just that I enjoyed them when I heard about them in school. Finally, I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali. Amazon suggested this book to me months ago, and I read a sample on my Kindle and was intrigued, but had forgotten about it after that. I am also intrigued by it because I watched a movie, Water, with my then-friend-now-husband about this time last year about child widows in India. It is certainly not the same, because the religions and regions are different, and Chuyia, the main character in Water, is a widow, not divorced, but she also was married at a very young age so I am interested to revisit this subject.

Looking forward to this challenge! I'll probably tackle The Haj first, and take it from there.


  1. What a fascinating idea for a challenge. While I won't be doing the challenge, I have added all of your picks to my (growing) reading list.

  2. @Sam - I'm glad you got some new ideas! I feel like whenever I sign up for a new challenge, it is just a treasure hunt for more books (as if I don't have enough)

  3. Lorren, I loved The Haj. I've read a ton of Leon Uris books, and they're all quite good. He's a little over dramatic for me sometimes, but I still enjoy his stuff.

    I need to go look at this challenge, I read about the Middle East all the time. I have an entire shelf of books dedicated to it, so if you need any suggestions (fiction and non) I have plenty :)

  4. I've heard good things about Leon Uris from a few people now. You knew Jeremy Ashworth, right? He was telling me that Exodus was a really great book. And definitely let me know what some of your favorite Middle East books are, even if I don't read them for the challenge I love learning about it. :)

  5. Lorren, I am so excited that you have joined the Middle East Reading Challenge (and I apologize for taking so long to visit your blog and post a reponse!). I have read some really interesting books so far for the challenge and the 4 you've chosen are good ones. I read Haj by Uris so long ago I've forgotten it, but I do like his books. I am Nujood was very interesting as well. I haven't read Lolita or Habibi so look forward to your reviews!

  6. Helen - no worries! I am excited to have the opportunity to learn more about the Middle East. Thank you for hosting! I am enjoying The Haj right now and am excited to read the others.


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