At this time of year, when we celebrate Hanukah and Christmas, it may be a time to remember how various religions celebrate their holidays. It brings to mind a reading list about world religions that we circulated at the Long Island Community Library a few years ago, when several of us did a study at the Evergreen United Methodist Church. The readings on this list came from not only our study group, but community members.
Hirsi Ali, Ayaan. Infidel / Ayaan Hirsi Ali. New York : Free Press, 2007.
In this profoundly affecting memoir from the internationally renowned author of The Caged Virgin, Ayaan Hirsi Ali tells her astonishing life story, from her traditional Muslim childhood in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya, to her intellectual awakening and activism in the Netherlands, and her current life under armed guard in the West.
Mahoney, Rosemary. The singular pilgrim: travels on sacred ground / Rosemary Mahoney. Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2003.
The intrepid Rosemary Mahoney undertakes six extraordinary journeys: visiting an Anglican shrine to Saint Mary in Walsingham, England; walking the five-hundred-mile Camino de Santiago in northern Spain; braving the icy bathwater at Lourdes; rowing alone across the Sea of Galilee to spend a night camped below the Golan Heights; viewing Varanasi, India’s holiest city, from a rubber raft on the Ganges; soldiering barefoot through the three-day penitential Catholic pilgrimage on Ireland’s Station Island.
Coffin, Jaed. A chant to soothe wild elephants : a memoir / Jaed Coffin. Cambridge, Mass. : Da Capo, 2008.
This memoir, by Maine resident Jaed Coffin, is about his experience as a young Buddhist monk in Thailand.
Idliby, Ranya. The faith club : a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew– three women search for understanding / Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, Priscilla Warner.
Traces how three American women of different faiths worked together to understand one another while identifying the connections between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, during which they openly discussed the issues that divided them.
Siljander, Mark. A deadly misunderstanding : a congressman’s quest to bridge the Muslim-Christian divide / Mark D. Siljander ; with John David Mann ; foreword by Ban Ki-moon. New York : HarperOne, 2008.
Aboulela, Leila. The translator / Leila Aboulela. New York : Grove Press, 2006.
The Translator is a beautifully written story about a young Sudanese widow living in Scotland and her sprouting relationship with Islamic scholar Rae Isle.
Jiji, Jessica. Sweet dates in Basra / Jessica Jiji. New York : Avon, 2010.
After two Iraqi families, one Jewish and one Muslim, break through a wall in the 1930s to accommodate a shared water pipe, a Jewish boy falls in love with an Arab maid, whose mother is determined to preserve her daughter’s honor in a land where the loss of it can be punishable by death.
Potok, Chaim. The Chosen : a novel / Chaim Potok. New York : Simon and Schuster, 1967. A novel about a Jewish family living in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn in the 1940′s.
Said, Kurban. Ali and Nino : a love story / Kurban Said. New York : Anchor Books, 2000.
A love story of two childhood friends, a Muslim warrior and a Christian girl, during the Russian Revolution. Set on the Caspian Sea, the novel symbolizes the clash of cultures between East and West. It was first published in German in 1937.
Happy holidays to everyone, no matter how you celebrate!