52 Books. Week 1. “Infidel” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
This book stays.
It took me only a couple of days to read through it. I picked it up at Barnes and Noble for full price. This happens very rarely, but I noticed that when I pay full price for a book, I actually read through it. I was fascinated by a unique insider perspective on the topic I knew nothing about: Islam. The book is an autobiographical account, and the story blew me away. This is definitely a must-read for anyone interested in religious studies, as well as working in any international field. It’s also a good read. While reading it I felt ignorant of the world outside of my bubble, although I’ve always considered myself pretty aware, since I am an immigrant myself. It was definitely an eye-opener.
I also felt that I could identify with the author. In her accounts about pressure and persecution from her family and religious community, I saw (on a way smaller scale, of course) an echo of how the Russian church in the U.S. functions and deals with anyone who dares to go against the grain of tradition. After finishing the book I was eager to discuss it, so I asked everyone who was close to me to read it. Only two people did. My mother, and the man who was going to become my future husband. Neither saw what I saw in the story, so the discussions definitely didn’t go the way that I expected, but were interesting nevertheless. I was impressed with the fact that my future spouse actually took the time to read something that was of interest to me at that moment. We were about a year away from dating at that point, so the book was discussed during a memorable lunch hour at a nearby Pho house. My now husband completely blew me away with his knowledge of events around the world, and his courage to speak his mind even though his opinion completely clashed with mine. Somehow we both managed to stay civil about it, even though I felt that inside we are both fuming at the other person’s thoughts!
The book stays because I would like to re-read it after I am done with my year of not reading. I would like to find out whether my point of view has shifted, because my previous outlook was based on personal pain and resentment, and I hope that within a year I will have worked through it.