Top 10 Books on My Summer TBR

So, a year or two ago, I staunchly declared: “Bankruptcy! No more official TBR’s!” in my post ‘The Readers’ Existential Crisis.’ However, towards the end of 2019, I’ve been selecting books with greater care (a euphemism for reading more diversely) and I’ve found that I’ve enjoyed reading much more. I can safely say that I trust my gut to create an official summer reading TBR that I can stick to. Also, I haven’t done a top ten anything in a while, so let’s go.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Ten Books on My Summer TBR

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

my sister the serial killer

“When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…”

I actually met Oyinkan Braithwaite at a Waterstones event and have a signed copy of this book! She’s unbelievably witty and had us all, in the audience, laughing, so I trust that I’m in good hands. I also learned that ‘My Sister, the Serial Killer’ was a NaNoWriMo creation which came as a complete surprise to me.

My Sister, the Serial Killer‘ was longlisted for the Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019.

Goodreads | Waterstones | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository

The Qur’an – A New Translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem

the Qur'an

“This superb new translation of the Qur’an is written in contemporary language that remains faithful to the meaning and spirit of the original, making the text crystal clear while retaining all of this great work’s eloquence. The translation is accurate and completely free from the archaisms, incoherence, and alien structures that mar existing translations. Thus, for the first time, English-speaking readers will have a text of the Qur’an which is easy to use and comprehensible. Furthermore, Haleem includes notes that explain geographical, historical, and personal allusions as well as an index in which Qur’anic material is arranged into topics for easy reference. His introduction traces the history of the Qur’an, examines its structure and stylistic features, and considers issues related to militancy, intolerance, and the subjection of women.”

I had no idea that a new translation of the Qur’an existed and I was hoping to find one which references the context of the Surah’s just like how you would learn in Tafseer classes. I’ve recently hoped to read more spiritual Islamic books, particularly self-help books, but, first, I need to understand the ultimate source which is the Qur’an. Strangely, I was asking friends and family for Islamic gift recommendations on behalf of my cousin and my aunt sent over a list of suggestions which included a copy of this! The moment I laid eyes on it, I knew I had to purchase a copy (I brought mine from Waterstones).

Goodreads | Waterstones | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

A woman is no man

“In Brooklyn, eighteen-year-old Deya is starting to meet with suitors. Though she doesn’t want to get married, her grandparents give her no choice. History is repeating itself: Deya’s mother, Isra, also had no choice when she left Palestine as a teenager to marry Adam. Though Deya was raised to believe her parents died in a car accident, a secret note from a mysterious, yet familiar-looking woman makes Deya question everything she was told about her past. As the narrative alternates between the lives of Deya and Isra, she begins to understand the dark, complex secrets behind her community.”

I don’t think I’ve yet read a book following an Arab-American character, so I’m really excited for this! I purchased a Kindle copy, so I’m ready to read whenever. I’ve read some very positive reviews and none of which gave anything away, so I’m completely in the dark.

‘A Woman is No Man’ was a New York Times Bestseller and a Goodreads Choice Awards finalist for 2019.

Goodreads | Waterstones | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository

The City of Brass (#1 of the Daevabad Trilogy) by S. A. Chakraborty

the city of brass

“Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for…”

The City of Brass’ has to be, hands down, one of the most beautiful and vibrant book covers I have ever seen. Even if I purchased a copy and I didn’t enjoy it (which I doubt because it’s Islamic folklore!), I would still keep the book because of how pretty the cover is. In May 2020, it was revealed that the Daevabad trilogy will be adapted for Netflix by production company ‘Complete Fiction. I’m hoping to place a hold on Libby soon!

The City of Brass‘ was a finalist for the British Fantasy Award 2018.

Goodreads | Waterstones | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository

The Rose That Blooms in the Night by Allie Michelle

the rose that blooms in the night

“Without the sun, the rose that blooms in the night must learn to create light within herself and bloom from her own love. This poetry collection is a journey of finding the strength it takes to be soft. 

The Rose That Blooms in the Night is a collection of poems from spoken word poet, yoga instructor, podcaster, and Instagram influencer Allie Michelle. The collection is meant to be a mirror reflecting the love inside of those who read it. It tells the tale of transformational cycles we experience throughout our lives. Falling in and out of love. Feeling lost and rediscovering our purpose. Learning to create a home within our own skin instead of seeking it in other people and places.”

So far we have contemporary historical fiction, thriller, YA fantasy, non-fiction Islam and now we have poetry. I like a bit of everything, and I can imagine ‘The Rose That Blooms in the Night’ will be a much needed light read! I purchased my copy from Kindle.

Goodreads | Waterstones | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

21 lessons for the 21st century

“How do computers and robots change the meaning of being human? How do we deal with the epidemic of fake news? Are nations and religions still relevant? What should we teach our children?

Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a probing and visionary investigation into today’s most urgent issues as we move into the uncharted territory of the future. As technology advances faster than our understanding of it, hacking becomes a tactic of war, and the world feels more polarized than ever, Harari addresses the challenge of navigating life in the face of constant and disorienting change and raises the important questions we need to ask ourselves in order to survive.”

Now, I had some issues withSapiens‘, but, for the most part, it was an interesting introduction and I particularly enjoyed the analogies – and any informative book which extensively uses analogies because that’s how I learn and consume information best. I received a free copy from (and at) Penguin Random House. It’s not exactly a summer read, but, hey, sandwiched between lighter books, I’m sure I’ll be alright.

Goodreads | Waterstones | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository

Aap Beti – Autobiography of Shaykh al-Hadith Maulana Muhammad Zakariya Khandelwi

aap beti

“After other scholars wrote biographies about him during his own lifetime, he set about writing his own saying that “that which should have been mentioned in it has been left out and that which should have been left out was written.”

It gives great insight into his initial studies at Mazahir Ulum Saharanpur, his writings, other scholars, tasawwuf. A very interesting and informative read about one of the greatest personalities of the twentieth century.”

I got this directly from my cousin’s bookshelf! He especially recommended this. I wish I could say more about this autobiography, however, my memory is pretty hazy, but I do believe it’s to do with building a Muslim community in the UK. I could be very very wrong!

Goodreads | Azhar Academy | Kitaabun 

Becoming by Michelle Obama


“In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.” 

Okay, so I am very torn about ‘Becoming’. I’m conflicted when it comes to the Obama’s because of the role they’ve played in the Middle East. I mean, I have a Libby hold for this book that’s due in 4 weeks (which will most likely be longer), but I’m cautious as to my thoughts on Barack and Michelle Obama. 

Becoming’ was the bestselling book in the US for 2018 and sold 1.4 million copies in its first week.

Goodreads | Waterstones | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

girl, woman, other

“Teeming with life and crackling with energy — a love song to modern Britain and black womanhood

Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.”

I am extremely excited to read this. I’ve seen many reviews showering praise on ‘Girl, Woman, Other’. I’ve really grown to love short stories and the characters are British as well! I’m currently number 261 in the queue on Libby, my original place in line was 370. There are 7 copies in use with 477 people waiting in total and 68 people waiting per copy. My library acquired 5 additional copies since I placed this hold which takes it up to 7 copies in total. I can expect a copy to be ready to borrow in at least 6 months, but there’s no way it will be ready then unless I somehow manage to find a skip-the-line copy. I think I’ll most likely buy a copy anyway in July/August from Waterstones because I don’t think I can wait that long.

‘Girl, Woman, Other’ is the joint Booker Prize winner of 2019 and has been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020.

Goodreads | Waterstones | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository

Once Upon an Eid edited by S. K. Ali and Aisha Saeed

once upon an eid

“Once Upon an Eid is a collection of short stories that showcases the most brilliant Muslim voices writing today, all about the most joyful holiday of the year: Eid!

Eid: The short, single-syllable word conjures up a variety of feelings and memories for Muslims. Maybe it’s waking up to the sound of frying samosas or the comfort of bean pie, maybe it’s the pleasure of putting on a new outfit for Eid prayers, or maybe it’s the gift-giving and holiday parties to come that day. Whatever it may be, for those who cherish this day of celebration, the emotional responses may be summed up in another short and sweet word: joy. The anthology will also include a poem, graphic-novel chapter, and spot illustrations.”

I’m so excited to read this I could literally jump with joy! It’s clear that I love my anthologies and short stories. If only Waterstones would ship my order already, gah! It’s been over a month now, and I know the book released last month and, yet, my order is still processing because it’s still awaiting publication. I should have signed up on Netgalley to request an ARC. But, with COVID, I will have to wait longer for my copy to arrive. I’ve heard nothing but glowing reviews, so I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait. *Wait, just checked, it’ll be published in-store in July, so I guess the wait won’t be too long.*

Goodreads | Waterstones | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository

Have you read any of these books or are you planning to? What’s on your summer TBR? What other books would you recommend that are similar to these? Let me know in the comments!

Sophia Ismaa

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  1. These books all look awesome and I’m hyped for your reviews of them. Especially My Sister, the Serial Killer, City of Brass, and Once Upon an Eid. Well…I guess you can tell that I’m a sucker for pretty covers and synopses full of exciting details. I totally judge books by covers – too often just by book spines. And I’m a library worker now too…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I finished reading my sister, the serial killer, for a story about a serial killer, it was a lot of fun! I’m not surprised that you’re a sucker for pretty covers, I can tell you have a fondness for aesthetics. And, wait, what? You’re a library worker? Translating, blogging and working at a library, everything’s very word-centric!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “A fondness for aesthetics,” huh? I feel like I’m too lazy to make anything aesthetic most of the time, but I guess I do appreciate pretty things!

        I think “word-centric” is exactly the direction I went for when I started job-hunting. Tends to correlate with low pay, but as long as what you do is meaningful…!


        1. I did tell you that you come across as very sophisticated! That’s probably where I’ve drawn the conclusion of “a fondness for aesthetics”.

          It’s such a shame that the more “word-centric” industries tend to pay less, but, realistically, we have to be honest that, in terms of creative arts, it’s television and film that’s more likely to drawer a wider audience.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s bizarre to say this, but it was such a fun book and perfect if you want something fast-paced and to just escape! I was reading two other books at the same time, and my sister, the serial killer was the one I found myself drawn towards each time.

      Can’t wait to read your thoughts on City of Brass when you get to it! And thank you. 🙂


  2. I’ve seen snippets of Girl, Woman, Other- My Arabic school’s building had a library and when I went there they had a table dedicated to that book so I’ve picked it up a couple of times while I’m running errands for teachers or when I’m on a break.

    What I’ve read is really interesting- It’s definitely a book I’d consider reading in the future. (I didn’t get to read much unfortunately but someday! 😆)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great list! My Sister, the Serial Killer was such fun (if you are allowed to say that about a serial killer…). It was very original as well, although I was a bit surprised it received all these prize nominations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, you are because I just finished reading it recently and I’m surprised by how much fun my sister, the serial killer was, and I wanted more. I’m not sure how I feel about the nominations, but I like that, and would encourage, that lighter books receive more nominations for book awards. It doesn’t always have to superior serious to be nomination-worthy!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a fantastic variety of genres! I wish my summer TBR list was a little more diverse. I tend to gravitate towards thrillers and suspense. I just find that they make better “vacation” reads if that makes any sense. Thank you for the recommendations. I just finished a really touching book I would like to share called “Deciduous” by Michael Devendorf . It was very surprising to read a touching psychological thriller but the way the author wrote this book really connected with me. He is not afraid to delve into some really dark and frightening places, but never makes you feel like all hope is lost. Thrillers, and horror both can easily fall into the trap of delivering a good story with shallow characters but NOT this book. The protagonist, Sienna is so well written and relatable. You will find yourself actually hurting for her as she moves through the twisted web of grief and mystery that surrounds her after tragically losing both children. Her husband was written extremely well also. How would you deal with the loss of a loved one? What if you found out it may have been your fault? You won’t be able to put this one down! If you want to read more about it here is the website-


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