Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How does it feel to be a problem book

I recently read How Does It Feels to Be a Problem by Brooklyn College professor Moustafa Bayoumi. I heard about the book due to the ruckus it was causing as required summer reading for incoming freshman.

While some are upset by the book choice, I'm here to be happy that they aren't choosing to get riled up over required summer reading. AmIright?

Anyways. Having attended a (super great) liberal arts college myself, I must say I don't see what the fuss is about. Education should be about reading/learning different perspectives and then discussing them and hopefully broadening our own world views (especially when the book in question is 1. timely 2. written by a faculty member and 3. concerns people in your geographic area).

For me personally, this book was a stretch. Not due to the content, but due to the nonfiction nature. I am here: a fiction lover trying to broaden her world view by partaking in a taste of nonfiction (because I like to learn).

At once I was struck by the readability. The portraits of the young Arab and Muslim Americans were both diverse and interesting. And most importantly - conversation inducing.

I found myself discussing the book as I read it with a friend I was visiting. We sat in her lake house under blankets reading, and I time and time again put the book down which prompted her to ask, "What did you read now?"

Agree or disagree, this book makes you want to talk.

I did have one big problem with the book: no pictures. Humans are - by nature - curious. I read about these real people, but I didn't get to see them. With fiction, that's great, because fiction is all about the imagination.

But nonfiction? I need my nonfiction with that interior section of glossy pages and candid shots.

Luckily, someone else must feel like I do, so you can see one of my favorite (I almost said characters...nonfiction...nonfiction) portraits here.

Notice I said portraits, not profiles. That's because:

"Hasn't there been enough profiling already?"
Moustafa Bayoumi

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