Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women

by Geraldine Brooks | Nonfiction |
ISBN: 0385475772 Global Overview for this book
Registered by istop4books of Castle Rock, Colorado USA on 4/17/2010
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
This book is in the wild! This Book is Currently in the Wild!
12 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by istop4books from Castle Rock, Colorado USA on Saturday, April 17, 2010

This is a replacement for my bookray which was lost. See this JE for prior entries.
Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women

Bookray will remain open until last person has the book. Please PM if you would like to join.

Remaining participants:

amcamp1644 - US - US or CAN
Kobie03 - Can - International
Secretariat - Can - International
Kalise - Austria - EU
Icila - France - anywhere
Okyrhoe - Greece - anywhere
Tregossip, UK - EU
House-elfdobby - UK - anywhere
Shovelmonkey1 - UK - anywhere <----- here
Nu-Knees - UK - UK
tree-hugger - UK

You all know how it goes, receive it, journal, read it, journal, send it, journal and enjoy! If it's going to be more than a month or so, because life can sometimes get in the way - or because after a dry spell of months and months of no book rings, 4 come in at the same time - drop me a note.

Journal Entry 2 by istop4books from Castle Rock, Colorado USA on Saturday, April 17, 2010
I'm very happy to get this ray going again. I'll be mailing the book out to amcamp1644 on Monday.

Journal Entry 3 by amcamp1644 from Rockville, Maryland USA on Saturday, April 24, 2010
FINALLY! I've waited so long for this I dropped the book I was reading (no worries, I only got a few pages in) and started it last night.

Journal Entry 4 by amcamp1644 from Rockville, Maryland USA on Saturday, May 08, 2010
Now finished. I thouhgt it was a bit choppy, jumping around quite a bit, but I think it did a good job explaining the culture for Middle Eastern women in a way westerners can understand.

Journal Entry 5 by amcamp1644 at Dalmatia, Pennsylvania USA on Sunday, May 16, 2010

Released 9 yrs ago (5/13/2010 UTC) at Dalmatia, Pennsylvania USA



Off to the next person. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 6 by wingSecretariatwing from Carlsbad, California USA on Friday, May 21, 2010
In my mailbox this evening. It's behind several others, but I should still be able to finish it within the month and get it off to the next in line.

Journal Entry 7 by wingSecretariatwing at Carlsbad, California USA on Saturday, June 19, 2010
Since 2001 when I made a concerted effort to try to understand the Middle East, I've read more than 10 books about Muslim women. However, none did such a good job of explaining the differences between individual countries in how each interprets the Koran and uses those interpretations in the treatment of the women in their midst. I felt that Brooks was very fair in her reporting of the issues in each country and how each has changed over the years, in being more lenient or more stringent in their treatment of women. It is very sad that many of the countries seem to be moving backward instead of forward. Though this book is 15 years old, from my quick research it appears that things have gotten even worse for women in most of the countries. What a loss of resources and intelligence they are all experiencing by repressing and sequestering their women.

I'll get this off to kalise as soon as I'm able to make a trip to the post office.

Journal Entry 8 by wingSecretariatwing at St. Florian am Inn, Oberösterreich Austria on Friday, July 16, 2010

Released 9 yrs ago (7/16/2010 UTC) at St. Florian am Inn, Oberösterreich Austria


On its way to kalise.

Journal Entry 9 by kalise at Linz, Oberösterreich Austria on Monday, July 26, 2010
The book arrived safely here in Austria! Thank you Secretariat for sending (also for the postcard!) and thank you to istop4books for including me in this ring! Looking forward to reading.

Journal Entry 10 by kalise at Linz, Oberösterreich Austria on Tuesday, August 03, 2010
A very well researched and tremendously interesting, readable book! I've read books and articles before on the lives of Islamic women, but these turned out to be always rather one-sided, sensationalist pieces of writing. Brooks does make an effort to remain objective in her book. I think it is clear, however, that this book has been written through Western lenses by a Western feminist and journalist for a Western audience. I particularly appreciate the author's efforts to differentiate between Islamic practices in various countries, instead of lumping them all together, and to emphasize that certain pre-Islamic, cultural practices (like cliteridectomy) are often conflated with the religion itself.
Be that as may, I couldn't agree more with the sentence: "At some point every religion, especially one that purports to encompass a complete way of life and system of government, has to be called to account for the kind of life it offers the people in the lands where it predominates." (p. 231)

Book is ready to travel on to the next reader, icila, whom I have already contacted.

Journal Entry 11 by kalise at Linz, Oberösterreich Austria on Thursday, August 05, 2010

Released 9 yrs ago (8/5/2010 UTC) at Linz, Oberösterreich Austria


Sent on today to Icila in France. Happy reading!

Journal Entry 12 by wingIcilawing at Nantes, Pays de la Loire France on Friday, August 27, 2010
Back from Normandy, the book was waiting for me. Thanks !

Journal Entry 13 by wingIcilawing at Nantes, Pays de la Loire France on Friday, October 01, 2010
I'm currently reading it (and I appreciate). I'm leaving sunday for 3 weeks, so I'll not be able to mail it till the end of october. Please forgive me.

Journal Entry 14 by wingIcilawing at Nantes, Pays de la Loire France on Monday, October 25, 2010
Back from my trip in the beautiful but so poor Madagascar I resumed my reading and finished the book.
Very interesting , I travel a lot in Muslim countries and try to understand who is behind the veil.
Thanks for sharing.

Pming Okyrhoe.

Journal Entry 15 by wingIcilawing at La Chapelle-sur-Erdre, Pays de la Loire France on Thursday, October 28, 2010

Released 9 yrs ago (10/28/2010 UTC) at La Chapelle-sur-Erdre, Pays de la Loire France


In the mail at the post office.

Journal Entry 16 by okyrhoe at Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Arrived in Athens. Thanks istop4books for including me in the bookray, and Icila for posting the book to me!

Journal Entry 17 by okyrhoe at bookray, By Post -- Controlled Releases on Thursday, January 13, 2011

Released 9 yrs ago (1/7/2011 UTC) at bookray, By Post -- Controlled Releases


Posted last week but forgot to j.e. promptly. On its way to Tregossip.

Journal Entry 18 by Tregossip at St. Austell, Cornwall United Kingdom on Saturday, January 22, 2011
Arrived this morning safe and well, forgotten all about requesting this one to read.
Will start very soon as current read not grabbing my attention.

Thank you

Journal Entry 19 by Tregossip at St. Austell, Cornwall United Kingdom on Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Although written 15yrs ago it's interesting (especially at this time in Middle Eatern history) how little things have changed.
One of the best,evenhanded books on the lives if Islamic women I've ever read - in the post before Easter.

Journal Entry 20 by house-elfdobby at on Tuesday, April 26, 2011
This arrived this morning so I will start it tonight - thanks for sending it to me Tregossip, and thanks for starting the Bookring istop4books, looking forward to reading it.

Journal Entry 21 by house-elfdobby at on Friday, May 27, 2011
A most interesting book which I thoroughly enjoyed. Many thanks istop4books for letting me join your Bookring. This is now parcelled up and ready to post on to Shovelmonkey1 this morning.

Journal Entry 22 by house-elfdobby at Lancaster, Lancashire United Kingdom on Friday, May 27, 2011

Released 8 yrs ago (5/27/2011 UTC) at Lancaster, Lancashire United Kingdom


Popped in the post First Class this afternoon to shovelmonkey1. Happy travels!

Journal Entry 23 by shovelmonkey1 at Liverpool, Merseyside United Kingdom on Thursday, June 09, 2011
Picked this up from the office today. Thank you for including me in this bookray, this book will be travelling again soon.

Journal Entry 24 by shovelmonkey1 at Liverpool, Merseyside United Kingdom on Monday, June 20, 2011
" Read, in the name of thy Lord
Who hath created all things, who
Hath created man of congealed blood.
Read, by thy most beneficent Lord,
Who taught us the use of the pen,
who teaches man that which he knoweth not."

The Koran: The Chapter of Congealed Blood

I have been living, working and travelling in the Middle East since I was nineteen years old. That's over eleven years now. In that time I have taken buses, boats, service taxis, trains, planes, lorries, scooters, camels and horses to get across Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. I've travelled from the Iraqi Border to Istanbul, from Aqaba to Aleppo and still have yet to reconcile my feelings on various attitudes towards women.

Geraldine Brooks has written an approachable, easy-to-read guide to the Koran and what is says about women. She makes a clear distinction between the teachings of the Koran and the Hadith as how they are then interpreted by various different groups. Interpretations vary widely across the pan-Islamic world hence the variety of rules and regulations which govern womens lives vary quite greatly from country to country. However, this is only a very introductory guide - this is not a definitive examination... go out, seek other books and talk to other women! You will not finish this book and walk away with a complete and unbiased understanding of the Islamic faith in its many, rich and varied forms.

Brooks, in a relatively privileged position as an established journo was able to talk to numerous successful powerful women, including Queen Noor of Jordan, several of her female advisers and one of the daughters of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Not your average cross section of middle eastern women by any stretch of the imagination.

My time in the Middle East usually involved living and working in fairly rural communities, although that said, I also lived in Aqaba for a fair period of time and the shores of Red Sea at Aqaba are graced with a pizza hut, a Radisson and a Movenpick hotel - not exactly small potatoes.

The women I have met, like Brooks' group, came from a variety of backgrounds; young professionals who went sans headscarf in the city, young village wives newly married, family matriarchs and government officials. A gentleman who used to work for me had two wives; a town wife and a country wife. Country wife was the first wife and a marriage of love. She lived off the desert highway in a small freeholding with goats, sheep, chickens, vines and a lovingly tended vegetable patch. She was unable to have children so a second wife, the town wife had been acquired through an arranged marriage. Town wife was young, spangly and lived in a small modern air conditioned apartment with a big TV. Quite a stark contract to the beautiful but humble dwelling of the wife out in the country who drew her water from the well. Both wives knew of each others existence but chose not to live together in the same house.

All of the men I have worked with have treated me with kindness, respect and deference. They have paid me what they believe is their highest compliment, often telling me that i'm "as good as man". As massively sexist as that sounds it is just the way they see things and I'm not about to cack-handedly try to alter their benchmark or world view. Through them I met their charming, erudite, spirited and happy wives and daughters who were knowledgeable and talented at things I was not. Sure I got my "good as a man tag" by being good at 4x4 off road desert driving and being a good marksman but I cannot sew, weave, bake bread, sing, dance or grow and maintain a magnificent garden in an arid desert environment. If I lived in the Middle East I think I would value those talents more too. As a woman who has lived and worked in these countries I can empathise with some of the situations that Brooks describes. Here are my top 5 "not great being a woman" experiences, in no particular order:

1. Having my ass groped in Martyr Square, Damscus (I avenged myself by punching the offending busy-handed git by smacking him in the side of the head. The two French guys I was travelling with were very surprised by the sudden flurry of violence as they hadn't noticed what was going on. NB many local gents drinking tea in the vicinity applauded - apparently avenging honour is not just a male perogative).

2. Having my breasts grabbed while walking along the Corniche in Alexandria. Strolling along, minding my own when a boy of about 13 ran up put out both hands, grabbed, squeezed and then legged it. Random.

3. The Tampax Police, Amman - While departing from Amman I was searched in the ladies privacy booth by a female security guard who was lovely and polite and patient to my child-like arabic. She emptied my bag and out fell a cluster of tampons. She asked what they were. I tried to explain (cue basic arabic and a fairly graphic mime). No. She shook her head and called her supervisor. The supervisor turned up, opened all them all, snapped them in half and then gave them back to me. Uh, thanks, I kind of needed those. Needless to say they went in the bin.

4. Narrowly escaping serious sexual assault on board a bus to Van Golu.

5. Being chased by men on scooters near my pansion in Tripoli, Lebanon.

See, none of those experiences were exactly great but they have never deterred me from returning to work in this part of the world because the good far outweighs any bad experiences perpetrated by a few ignorant individuals. I have worn many elements of Islamic dress and have an extensive collection of head scarves. There is more beyond the veil than many might expect.

Journal Entry 25 by shovelmonkey1 at Liverpool, Merseyside United Kingdom on Monday, June 20, 2011

Released 8 yrs ago (6/21/2011 UTC) at Liverpool, Merseyside United Kingdom


This book is now off on its travels again to the next person on the list. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 26 by wingNu-Kneeswing at Knaresborough, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Thursday, June 23, 2011
Thank you, shovelmonkey1 and all previous keepers of this book. I'm delighted to report that it arrived safely in Knaresborough this morning, thank you very much. I've enjoyed other books by this author, fiction and non-fiction, so am very much looking forward to reading this one as well. I just need to finish the BookRay I'm reading and then it'll be next!
I love the Liverpool postcard, a city I've not been to for years but remember with pleasure, and the cute bookmark which I'll definitely use while reading this book, thanks.

Journal Entry 27 by wingNu-Kneeswing at Knaresborough, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Saturday, July 02, 2011
Much as expected, interesting, well-written, easy to read in her usual informative and entertaining style, her first published book, that it pre-dates all her fiction seems significant somehow, still relevant although I'm conscious that the world has changed in the last 15 years ....
Thanks again to all previous readers for the opportunity to read it :-)
Now Reserved for Tree-hugger, then, with no further names on the list, we'll probably take it to Release at the UK Unconvention 2011 in Nottingham in September!

Journal Entry 28 by wingNu-Kneeswing at Knaresborough, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Saturday, July 02, 2011

Released 8 yrs ago (7/2/2011 UTC) at Knaresborough, North Yorkshire United Kingdom


To tree-hugger who doesn't sign up for Rings/Rays herself and can't remember asking me to include her name with mine but is happy to read it anyway ....
Link to another non-fiction by Geraldine Brooks that I've read and enjoyed, Foreign Correspondence: A Pen Pal's Journey from Down Under to All Over.

Journal Entry 29 by tree-hugger at Knaresborough, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Saturday, July 02, 2011
Thanks all. Looks good.

Journal Entry 30 by tree-hugger at York, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Friday, September 23, 2011
I found this fascinating. I'm so pleased I read it - thank you all. 'Nine Parts of Desire' gives a respectful and level-headed perspective of some issues affecting women's lives in islamic countries. It comes from a place of understanding rather then bigotry, but the author is brave enough to criticise when she feels she needs to. It can't have been an easy book to write or research. I have a lot of respect for what Gerladine Brookes has acheived here.

There are lots of short chapters, each taking a different subject and each very interesting. I found it particularly fascinating to read about the real lives of Muhammed and Khomeini, and their interaction with the women in their own lives.

Most eye-opening for me was probably the stuff about female sexuality. I confess that I had rather ignorantly imagined a lot of strict muslims to find women's sexuality fundamentally shameful and dirty. But here we see devout married muslims talking with ease about enjoying sex & incorporating erotic dancing and clothing and so on - Brookes shows us that among her acquaintances married women are very much allowed (and expected) to enjoy sex. A lot of the issues which are covered in the book are about trying to control female sexuality and keep it in it's proper place, so the situation is so much more complex than the simple revulsion of female sexuality which I had imagined.

This book is getting old, and I was pleased to be able to reflect that western understanding has moved on a bit in the intervening period. At the end we see a murderer being acquitted because his crime is misrepresented as being a crime of passion, and I do like to think that our courts are not so ignorant about honour killings now. But this book is still very relevant, and has furthered my own understanding (particularly about what's in the koran and what's a cultural interpretation), so I pass it on with my hearty recommendation.

Journal Entry 31 by tree-hugger at BCUK Unconvention 2011 in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire United Kingdom on Friday, September 23, 2011

Released 8 yrs ago (9/24/2011 UTC) at BCUK Unconvention 2011 in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire United Kingdom


Releasing at a bookcrossing convention in Nottingham. Will hopefully find a new reader there.

Journal Entry 32 by LyzzyBee at Birmingham, West Midlands United Kingdom on Sunday, October 09, 2011
Picked up from the Uncon by Katisha50 and given to me to stock BookCrossing Zones around Birmingham. However, I will be reading it first as it's just the kind of book I like to read. Hello to all the people around the world who have read other books that I've read!!

Journal Entry 33 by LyzzyBee at Birmingham, West Midlands United Kingdom on Wednesday, April 18, 2012
A very worthwhile book that takes a deep and personal look at the hidden and often surprising world of Islamic women from different countries and regimes. The parts examining the basis of some of the rules and regulations in everyday life when the Koran and Hadiths were put together are very interesting. But however valuable it is as a historical document, it has become just that, in my opinion, as it was published in 1995 and worked very much in terms of a coverage of current issues, so it is rather outdated now. A shame, as a lot of effort clearly went into it. One can't help but wonder what became of the women featured in this book.

Released 7 yrs ago (4/28/2012 UTC) at Urban Coffee Company, Church St in Birmingham, West Midlands United Kingdom


At the meetup. If not taken, it will go on the OBCZ shelf.

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