Stories of Women of Substance

Non-Fiction Book Reviews

I read a lot of non-fiction books: memoirs, biographies and autobiographies from my school days, and the women featured in these books and their stories have truly inspired my life to date and turned me into a fan of non-fiction books, especially stories from the Middle East.

I will try to post the video reviews for the books I have read in the past once I have cleared the books in my TBR list. Or probably do them concurrently. For those of you who are new to my blog, you can check out my video reviews or #booktube here on YouTube.

M book video reviews

Shame by Jasvinder Sanghera (Memoir)


Jasvinder Sanghera, CBE, is a campaigner who fights against forced marriages and honour-based crimes in the UK. Shame is her memoir that walks us through her life as a victim of forced marriage at the age of 14. Jasvinder was born into a Sikh family living in the UK. Her parents emigrated to the UK from India before she was born, and the family still has a very close connection with their roots in India.

Jasvinder ran away from home to escape her marriage and had since been outcasted by her family. Jasvinder’s pain of being rejected by her own mother and family because of her choice to not get married was saddening and it tells the reader the importance of being accepted and loved by family members in order to have a fulfilling life as one grows up.

Jasvinder had a failed a marriage and after that found the love of her life. She went on to study at a university after having kids and founded Karma Nirvana to speak for the victims of forced marriages, both men and women, in the UK. A highly recommended book for anyone looking turn adversity into strength.

Mayada, Daughter of Iraq: One Woman’s Survival Under Saddam Hussein by Jean Sasson (Biography)


One of the most disturbing books I have ever read. The details of how women suffer behind the bar during the time Saddam Hussein was in power, as described in this book, were too harrowing and sickening. I had to just pause a few times while reading as I was baffled with the fact that women can be treated so lowly just because they were put behind the bar.

Mayada is the granddaughter of one of the most prominent leaders of Iraq, and she was arrested for a crime she did not commit, which is printing leaflets against Saddam at her shop. The rest of the story is about what happened to her and the rest of the ‘Shadow Women’ in the jail. She got out the jail quickly and was not tortured like the rest of her inmates.

While the incident is based on true events, I did not find any potential conflict of interest over the story of this book, yet. It is highly recommended to anyone who loves being teleported to a different world, especially Iraq and the Middle East.

Burned Alive: A Survivor of an “Honor Killing” Speaks Out by Souad (Biography)

Burned Alive

Burned Alive is a story of a woman surviving honour killing after being tried to be murdered by her family members for getting pregnant with her man she loved. This story will open your eyes to how women were tortured in past by denying the rights to express their thoughts freely. This event took place in the seventies, during the time when women’s rights movement had not gained prevalence in many parts of the world.

Souad lived in a society that considered a seventeen-year-old girl to be an old maid, and she lost hope in getting married to a man of her family’s choice because her elder sisters were still not married, and she was left with no choice but to wait for her sisters’ turn to come because older girls were married off first. She fell in love with a man and got pregnant with him. The pregnancy was kept a secret but soon the family got to know about it and attempted to murder her and her child.

Souad recalled the story after some twenty years this incident happened to her from a place somewhere in Europe, where she lived after escaping her home country. Although Souad later got married, found an employment opportunity and learned a second language, she preferred to keep her whereabouts a secret due to the fear of her family tracing her back and killing her.

Highly recommended for those who like to read about the lives of women in the seventies in of the Middle Eastern countries.


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