Glorious Books of Summer That Take You Through To Labor Day

The must-read books of summer that will take you through to Labor Day will engage, educate and enlighten you. This summer, I’ve come across stories of heroic Muslim women, our America’s founding fathers view of Islam, and a book on happiness. As I write this, I am on the beach with one or more books, jotting down notes, and circling clever phrases.

In this selection, you will find books that force to rethink your assumptions of women in Islam, questions of death, and religious freedom. I know that by the end of my new reading list, I will become a better writer, a more engaged reader, and gain knowledge I didn’t have before picking up these new (and one older) book.

Because books have the powerful ability to teach and change us. 

Glorious Books of Summer With a Short-Short Summary 


Daring To Drive by Manal Al-Sharif

Remember the woman from Saudi Arabia who posted on FB while driving a car? Her TED talk became a hit and the news of her driving “scandal” awakened the Saudi male clerics. Here’s her personal and gripping true story. [In my classes on Islam, I always highlight the powerful role of Muslim women and Manal Al-Sharif is one of them. By the way, she’s left Saudi Arabia, married a man from Brazil, and has a young child. Her first son is back in Saudi with her ex-husband, an unpleasant man.]


I Was Told To Come Alone by Souad Mekhennet

This is one unforgettable memoir. A bold and brave journalist for The Washington Post goes behind the lines of jihad to understand their motivations. Her journey begins in Germany, where Mekhennet traces the lives of terrorists hiding in Europe and includes insight into some of the most dangerous and wanted men. These interviews are not found in any other book. You won’t want to miss this one. 



The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs

Poet Nina Riggs tells a very personal story of how she lives each day with cancer. As a mother of two boys, she embraces life and says you have to love all the days, even the bad ones. A descendant of the American poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Riggs confronts death and says “this is what it will be.” Unlike other books on death and dying, Riggs uses poetic verse to craft a deeply moving story.



Thomas Jefferson’s Quran: Islam and the Founders by Denise Spellberg

In this uniquely researched book, the author traces Islam’s sacred book, the Quran, to America’s founding fathers. A story of religious freedom in America includes the role of Islam. In 1766,  Thomas Jefferson bought a Quran which sparked his interest in Islam and the Middle East. In the book, we find a compassionate founding father who supported the inclusion of Muslims at a time when there was great debate on religious groups. This is a story you will not find anywhere else.



Every Day A Friday: How To Be Happier 7 Days a Week by Joel Osteen 

A Christian preacher from Houston, Texas addresses the most fundamental principles of faith and how to connect with God in today’s chaotic world. The title of the book sounds like a Muslim logo; after all, Muslims hold special Friday afternoon prayers called Juma. Though this is one of Osteen’s older books, it is relevant anytime of the year. Simple stories told in a passionate and purposeful style, Osteen gives readers hope and ultimately, happiness. By the way, I first discovered Osteen at a US Air Force base when I was asked to give my first lecture on Islam. When I heard Osteen speak, I thought he was Muslim! 


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