It has been a long time since I’ve written anything here, and it feels kind of strange, since my blog and my channel had become such a big part of my life in 2020. But I’m back, and hopefully, I will be consistent. Well, a girl can hope.
Ramadan is right around the corner, and I thought what better way to kick-start my bookish endeavors than a list of books by Muslim authors?
Are you looking for something to read this month?
Or are you planning to splurge all your Eidi on books, and are looking for recommendations?
Or perhaps you are planning to buy an Eid gift for a family or friend who loves to read, but don’t know where to start?
Or even better, you are looking for book recommendations beyond Ramadan and Eid?
Worry not, for I have you covered on all fronts.
I have broken these recommendations down into two parts: 5 to-be-released books (along with their release dates to make the gifting/buying/reading process easier) and 5 recently released books. I have also avoided sequels, especially if you plan on buying one of these books as a gift.
And since I’m in the mood for recommendations, I also have a new video on my channel listing out my top 10 books featuring competitions! Check it out if that is a trope you are into!
So without further ado, let us dive into some Muslim reads I am excited for! Do bear in mind that these are titles I am personally excited for. If our taste aligns, you might enjoy these too! You can check out an extended list over on Goodreads here to help you find a wider range of books!
1. COUNTING DOWN WITH YOU BY TASHIE BHUIYAN
Let’s start the list with a book I’ve actually read. Counting Down With You was one of my MOST anticipated reads of 2021 since it features a Muslim, Bangladeshi protagonist who falls in love with a *gasp* white boy and *double gasp* doesn’t want to become a doctor. While my full thoughts on this book will soon be available as a review on both, my blog and my channel, in a nutshell, I found this book to be a solid debut and a thoroughly enjoyable yet moving read.
If you are into wholesome romance, soft girls, seemingly bad boys with a heart of fluff and gold, and a story about courage in small acts, this book is for you.
A reserved Bangladeshi teenager has twenty-eight days to make the biggest decision of her life after agreeing to fake date her school’s resident bad boy.
How do you make one month last a lifetime?
Karina Ahmed has a plan. Keep her head down, get through high school without a fuss, and follow her parents’ rules—even if it means sacrificing her dreams. When her parents go abroad to Bangladesh for four weeks, Karina expects some peace and quiet. Instead, one simple lie unravels everything.
Karina is my girlfriend.
Tutoring the school’s resident bad boy was already crossing a line. Pretending to date him? Out of the question. But Ace Clyde does everything right—he brings her coffee in the mornings, impresses her friends without trying, and even promises to buy her a dozen books (a week) if she goes along with his fake-dating facade. Though Karina agrees, she can’t help but start counting down the days until her parents come back.
T-minus twenty-eight days until everything returns to normal—but what if Karina no longer wants it to?
Release Date: May 4th 2021
2. HANI AND ISHU’S GUIDE TO FAKE DATING BY ADIBA JAIGIRDAR
Since I’ve been writing contemporary recently, I’ve been devouring any and all YA contemporaries and rom-coms, and the one I have on my radar THE MOST is HANI AND ISHU’S GUIDE TO FAKE DATING. Once again, it has Bangladeshi and Muslim representation AND it’s sapphic. AND it has Bengali (Indian) rep. This whole mix just soothes my Bengali heart. I haven’t yet read HANI AND ISHU but knowing Adiba’s style I know this is going to make me laugh and cry.
Keep the tissues ready.
And read The Henna Wars if you haven’t already.
Also, just look at that cover. No pls, look.
Everyone likes Humaira “Hani” Khan—she’s easy going and one of the most popular girls at school. But when she comes out to her friends as bisexual, they invalidate her identity, saying she can’t be bi if she’s only dated guys. Panicked, Hani blurts out that she’s in a relationship…with a girl her friends absolutely hate—Ishita “Ishu” Dey. Ishu is the complete opposite of Hani. She’s an academic overachiever who hopes that becoming head girl will set her on the right track for college. But Ishita agrees to help Hani, if Hani will help her become more popular so that she stands a chance of being elected head girl.
Despite their mutually beneficial pact, they start developing real feelings for each other. But relationships are complicated, and some people will do anything to stop two Bengali girls from achieving happily ever after
Release Date: May 25th 2021
3. THE WILD ONES BY NAFIZA AZAD
You know how some book covers go into the “work of art” territory?
Look at this cover and tell me that isn’t true for this book .
Not only am I dying to hold this beautiful thing in my hands and have it on my shelf, but also, the blurb sounds like a wild (wink wink) ride, with magic and friendship and girl power. In short, everything I love rolled into one.
From William C. Morris Finalist Nafiza Azad comes a thrilling, feminist fantasy about a group of teenage girls endowed with special powers who must band together to save the life of the boy whose magic saved them all.
Meet the Wild Ones: girls who have been hurt, abandoned, and betrayed all their lives. It all began with Paheli, who was once betrayed by her mother and sold to a man in exchange for a favor. When Paheli escapes, she runs headlong into a boy with stars in his eyes. This boy, as battered as she is, tosses Paheli a box of stars before disappearing.
With the stars, Paheli gains access to the Between, a place of pure magic and mystery. Now, Paheli collects girls like herself and these Wild Ones use their magic to travel the world, helping the hopeless and saving others from the fates they suffered.
Then Paheli and the Wild Ones learn that the boy who gave them the stars, Taraana, is in danger. He’s on the run from powerful forces within the world of magic. But if Taraana is no longer safe and free, neither are the Wild Ones. And that…is a fate the Wild Ones refuse to accept. Ever again.
Release Date: August 3rd 2021
4. ACE OF SPADES by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
I haven’t read too many ~dark academia~ books, but ACE OF SPADES seems like a good place to start -partly because of the gorgeous art that has been released so far, partly because of the intriguing plot, and partly because of the downright glowing reviews. If you are into mysteries, this book might be the one for you!
An incendiary and utterly compelling thriller with a shocking twist that delves deep into the heart of institutionalized racism, from an exceptional new YA voice. Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is bringing two students’ dark secrets to light. Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can’t escape the spotlight when his private photos go public. Head girl Chiamaka isn’t afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power. Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they’re planning much more than a high-school game..
Release Date: 10th June 2021
5. HANA KHAN CARRIES ON BY UZMA JALALUDDIN
I have only heard good things about Ayesha At Last, so the latest book from the author featuring halal restaurants and what seems like a good old rivals-to-lovers trope has me very excited!
From the author of Ayesha at Last comes a sparkling new rom-com for fans of “You’ve Got Mail,” set in two competing halal restaurants
Sales are slow at Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, the only halal restaurant in the close-knit Golden Crescent neighbourhood. Hana waitresses there part time, but what she really wants is to tell stories on the radio. Ifadd on goodreads she can just outshine her fellow intern at the city radio station, she may have a chance at landing a job. In the meantime, Hana pours her thoughts and dreams into a podcast, where she forms a lively relationship with one of her listeners. But soon she’ll need all the support she can get: a new competing restaurant, a more upscale halal place, is about to open in the Golden Crescent, threatening Three Sisters.
When her mysterious aunt and her teenage cousin arrive from India for a surprise visit, they draw Hana into a long-buried family secret. A hate-motivated attack on their neighbourhood complicates the situation further, as does Hana’s growing attraction for Aydin, the young owner of the rival restaurant—who might not be a complete stranger after all.
As life on the Golden Crescent unravels, Hana must learn to use her voice, draw on the strength of her community and decide what her future should be.
Release Date: April 13th 2021
1. CITY OF THE PLAGUE GOD BY SARWAT CHADDA
Perfect for fans of the likes of Percy Jackson and Aru Shah, this Middle Grade adventure is based on Mesopotamian mythology and features a Muslim hero -something that I’ve waited for my whole life. I haven’t had a chance to dive into this book yet, but you best believe now that I have time on my hands, this will be one of my first reads.
Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents CITY OF THE PLAGUE GOD, an adventure based on ancient Mesopotamian mythology written by Sarwat Chadda, author of the Ash Mistry series. Characters from the Epic of Gilgamesh populate this high-stakes contemporary adventure in which all of Manhattan is threatened by the ancient god of plagues.
Thirteen-year-old Sik wants a simple life going to school and helping at his parents’ deli in the evenings. But all that is blown to smithereens when Nergal comes looking for him, thinking that Sik holds the secret to eternal life.Turns out Sik is immortal but doesn’t know it, and that’s about to get him and the entire city into deep, deep trouble.
Sik’s not in this alone. He’s got Belet, the adopted daughter of Ishtar, the goddess of love and war, on his side, and a former hero named Gilgamesh, who has taken up gardening in Central Park. Now all they have to do is retrieve the Flower of Immortality to save Manhattan from being wiped out by disease. To succeed, they’ll have to conquer sly demons, treacherous gods, and their own darkest nightmares
2. HOME IS NOT A COUNTRY BY SAFIA ELHILLO
While I have not read HOME IS NOT A COUNTRY yet, it was one of my most anticipated reads of 2021, especially after its glowing reception by reviewers. I did have the honor of organizing a blog tour for this book, alongside my partner, Siham, through our book tour company Qamar Blog Tours, which specifically caters to Muslim authors! In fact, you can check out the book tour schedule and stops here, and take a look at the reviews and interviews that were part of the tour!
A mesmerizing novel in verse about family, identity, and finding yourself in the most unexpected places–for fans of The Poet X, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, and Jason Reynolds.
Nima doesn’t feel understood. By her mother, who grew up far away in a different land. By her suburban town, which makes her feel too much like an outsider to fit in and not enough like an outsider to feel like that she belongs somewhere else. At least she has her childhood friend Haitham, with whom she can let her guard down and be herself. Until she doesn’t.
As the ground is pulled out from under her, Nima must grapple with the phantom of a life not chosen, the name her parents didn’t give her at birth: Yasmeen. But that other name, that other girl, might just be more real than Nima knows. And more hungry.And the life Nima has, the one she keeps wishing were someone else’s. . .she might have to fight for it with a fierceness she never knew she had.
Nothing short of magic…One of the best writers of our times.– Elizabeth Acevedo, New York Times Bestselling author of The Poet X
3. ACCIDENTALLY ENGAGED BY FARAH HERON
Okay hear me out. Fake dating is one thing. But let’s take it a step further. Fake. Engagement.
I’m a sucker for this trope, so ACCIDENTALLY ENGAGED is super high on my TBR, as it should be on yours too. I mean check out the blurb and tell me this doesn’t already sound like something they should make a movie about… because I need this story.
Reena Manji doesn’t love her career, her single status, and most of all, her family inserting themselves into every detail of her life. But when caring for her precious sourdough starters, Reena can drown it all out. At least until her father moves his newest employee across the hall–with hopes that Reena will marry him.
But Nadim’s not like the other Muslim bachelors-du-jour that her parents have dug up. If the Captain America body and the British accent weren’t enough, the man appears to love eating her bread creations as much as she loves making them. She sure as hell would never marry a man who works for her father, but friendship with a neighbor is okay, right? And when Reena’s career takes a nosedive, Nadim happily agrees to fake an engagement so they can enter a couples video cooking contest to win the artisan bread course of her dreams.
As cooking at home together brings them closer, things turn physical, but Reena isn’t worried. She knows Nadim is keeping secrets, but it’s fine— secrets are always on the menu where her family is concerned. And her heart is protected… she’s not marrying the man. But even secrets kept for self-preservation have a way of getting out, especially when meddling parents and gossiping families are involved.
4. THE DESCENT OF THE DROWNED by ANA LAL DIN
The first part of a trilogy, this is a YA fantasy that has cross-over appeal (i.e. will appeal to a more mature audience and can be interpreted as New Adult or Adult) since it deals with some pretty hard-hitting topics which could make this book fall into a higher age category. In fact, over on Goodreads, fellow bookstagrammer and friend, Anandi, ( @_.sleepydoe._ ) compiled a list of trigger warnings that I will copy and paste down below.
If you are looking for a darker take on fantasy, this book might just be up your alley because it sure is for me!
She is bound to serve. He is meant to kill. Survival is their prison. Choice is their weapon.
As the sacred slave of a goddess, Roma is of a lower caste that serves patrons to sustain the balance between gods and men. What she wants is her freedom, but deserters are hunted and hanged, and Roma only knows how to survive in her village where women are vessels without a voice. When her younger brother is condemned to the same wretched fate as hers, Roma must choose between silence and rebellion.
Leviathan is the bastard son of an immortal tyrant. Raised in a military city where everyone knows of his blood relation to the persecuted clans, Leviathan is considered casteless. Lowest of the low. Graduating as one of the deadliest soldiers, he executes in his father’s name, displaying his worth. When he faces judgement from his mother’s people—the clans—Leviathan must confront his demons and forge his own path, if he ever hopes to reclaim his soul.
But in the struggle to protect the people they love and rebuild their identities, Roma’s and Leviathan’s destinies interlock as the tyrant hunts an ancient treasure that will doom humankind should it come into his possession—a living treasure to which Roma and Leviathan are the ultimate key.
Set in a colonised Indo-Persian world and inspired by pre-Islamic Arabian mythology, The Descent of the Drowned is a tale about power, identity, and redemption, and what it takes to hold on to one’s humanity in the face of devastation.
Trigger warnings (as found in Anandi’s review):
TWs: rape, torture, gore, blood, death/murder, PTSD, mentions of sex work related violence, castration, all kinds of sexual violence and assault, violence and assault in general, transphobia, caste-based violence/discrimination, substance abuse, hallucinations, suicidal ideation & suicide.
5. ZARA HOSSAIN IS HERE BY SABINA KHAN
So this is a book following a bisexual, Pakistani, Muslim protagonist, and if that isn’t enough for you to be sold, I don’t know what will be.
From the blurb, it seems like this book will be exploring some grim realities – that of hate crimes, racism, and the difficulties of being an immigrant from a Muslim country in America. ZARA HOSSAIN IS HERE has received glowing reviews from some of my most trusted reviewers, and therefore, is a book I cannot wait to pick up.
Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.
But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.
From the author of the “heart-wrenching yet hopeful” (Samira Ahmed) novel, The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali, comes a timely, intimate look at what it means to be an immigrant in America today, and the endurance of hope and faith in the face of hate.
So there you have it! Here are some of my most anticipated/favourite Muslim reads which you can spend your Eidi on! Again, I would highly recommend you check out the extended version of this list on Goodreads (2021 releases by Muslim authors) in case I missed any titles/don’t know enough to talk about them, because in this house, we try to support ALL Muslim authors.
If you feel like I have missed a title, drop your recommendations down below! If you want another list of books by Muslim authors I loved beyond 2021 releases, let me know that too!
Do you find any favourites or most anticipated on this list? Let me know down below, and happy reading!