100 books like Nothing Has to Make Sense

By Sherene H. Razack,

Here are 100 books that Nothing Has to Make Sense fans have personally recommended if you like Nothing Has to Make Sense. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Muslims Are Coming: Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror

Evelyn Alsultany Author Of Broken: The Failed Promise of Muslim Inclusion

From my list on Islamophobia and the War on Terror.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in New York City in the 1980s as an Arab Latina American Muslim, which shaped my interest in who is considered American. Back then, there was no language to talk about my experience of marginalization as Arab or Muslim. That changed after 9/11 and the War on Terror. A decade after that, the term “Islamophobia” entered the US lexicon, leading to social recognition of this form of discrimination, and many important debates about what constitutes Islamophobia. I made my career exploring how Arabs and Muslims figure into US racial politics, and am currently a professor of US Ethnic Studies at the University of Southern California.

Evelyn's book list on Islamophobia and the War on Terror

Evelyn Alsultany Why did Evelyn love this book?

This is the kind of book I wish government officials would read to devise better policies.

Kundnani challenges what we think we know about terrorism perpetrated by Muslim extremists. After 9/11, many terrorism experts devised theories to explain terrorism and figure out ways to prevent it, particularly “radicalization.” Kundnani takes these theories to task.

By identifying root causes in cultural-psychological predispositions, they fail to address political root causes. As a result, Kundnani argues, such theories justify restrictions on civil liberties for Muslims and mosque surveillance, fueling Islamophobia.

By Arun Kundnani,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Muslims Are Coming as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The new front in the War on Terror is the "homegrown enemy," domestic terrorists who have become the focus of sprawling counterterrorism structures of policing and surveillance in the United States and across Europe. Domestic surveillance has mushroomed - at least 100,000 Muslims in America have been secretly under scrutiny. British police compiled a secret suspect list of more than 8,000 al-Qaeda "sympathizers," and in another operation included almost 300 children fifteen and under among the potential extremists investigated. MI5 doubled in size in just five years. Based on several years of research and reportage, in locations as disparate as…


Book cover of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire: 20 years after 9/11

Evelyn Alsultany Author Of Broken: The Failed Promise of Muslim Inclusion

From my list on Islamophobia and the War on Terror.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in New York City in the 1980s as an Arab Latina American Muslim, which shaped my interest in who is considered American. Back then, there was no language to talk about my experience of marginalization as Arab or Muslim. That changed after 9/11 and the War on Terror. A decade after that, the term “Islamophobia” entered the US lexicon, leading to social recognition of this form of discrimination, and many important debates about what constitutes Islamophobia. I made my career exploring how Arabs and Muslims figure into US racial politics, and am currently a professor of US Ethnic Studies at the University of Southern California.

Evelyn's book list on Islamophobia and the War on Terror

Evelyn Alsultany Why did Evelyn love this book?

This is a remarkable book that offers a clear historical overview of Islamophobia in the US, going back several centuries.

Kumar shows that it is geopolitics that shapes whether Muslims are seen as friends or enemies. Thus the origin of Islamophobia is not a problem with Islam itself, but rather in US endeavors to remain a global empire. Besides Islamophobia, the books offers clear explanations to understand terrorism, the War on Terror, and empire.

By Deepa Kumar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this incisive account, leading scholar of Islamophobia Deepa Kumar traces the history of anti-Muslim racism from the early modern era to the "War on Terror." Importantly, Kumar contends that Islamophobia is best understood as racism rather than as religious intolerance. An innovative analysis of anti-Muslim racism and empire, Islamophobia argues that empire creates the conditions for anti-Muslim racism, which in turn sustains empire.

This book, now updated to include the end of the Trump's presidency, offers a clear and succinct explanation of how Islamophobia functions in the United States both as a set of coercive policies and as a…


Book cover of A Global Racial Enemy: Muslims and 21st-Century Racism

Evelyn Alsultany Author Of Broken: The Failed Promise of Muslim Inclusion

From my list on Islamophobia and the War on Terror.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in New York City in the 1980s as an Arab Latina American Muslim, which shaped my interest in who is considered American. Back then, there was no language to talk about my experience of marginalization as Arab or Muslim. That changed after 9/11 and the War on Terror. A decade after that, the term “Islamophobia” entered the US lexicon, leading to social recognition of this form of discrimination, and many important debates about what constitutes Islamophobia. I made my career exploring how Arabs and Muslims figure into US racial politics, and am currently a professor of US Ethnic Studies at the University of Southern California.

Evelyn's book list on Islamophobia and the War on Terror

Evelyn Alsultany Why did Evelyn love this book?

I write about Islamophobia in the US but often wonder how it manifests in other countries. I now know where to go for answers.

This book examines Muslim racialization in four countries – the US, the UK, India, and China. It takes readers through the history of Islamophobia in each country, examining the role of media in stereotyping and Othering Muslims. Importantly, the book also explains how anti-Muslim racism has figured in recent ethnonationalist movements and counterterrorism policies.

By Saher Selod, Inaash Islam, Steve Garner

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Global Racial Enemy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Prejudice against Muslims has a long and complex history, shaped over many centuries. In recent decades, discrimination, violence, and human rights abuses against Muslims have taken a significant turn, with rising reports and discussions of Islamophobia across the globe. However, as the authors of A Global Racial Enemy argue, much of the conversation has missed the key features of this increasingly insidious phenomenon.

This original book puts race at the center of the analysis, exposing the global racialization of Muslims. With special attention paid to the United States, China, India, and the United Kingdom, the authors examine both the unique…


Book cover of An Imperialist Love Story: Desert Romances and the War on Terror

Evelyn Alsultany Author Of Broken: The Failed Promise of Muslim Inclusion

From my list on Islamophobia and the War on Terror.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in New York City in the 1980s as an Arab Latina American Muslim, which shaped my interest in who is considered American. Back then, there was no language to talk about my experience of marginalization as Arab or Muslim. That changed after 9/11 and the War on Terror. A decade after that, the term “Islamophobia” entered the US lexicon, leading to social recognition of this form of discrimination, and many important debates about what constitutes Islamophobia. I made my career exploring how Arabs and Muslims figure into US racial politics, and am currently a professor of US Ethnic Studies at the University of Southern California.

Evelyn's book list on Islamophobia and the War on Terror

Evelyn Alsultany Why did Evelyn love this book?

What do romance novels have to do with U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East? This fascinating book looks at novels featuring rich Arab sheikhs falling in love with white women in “Arabiastan.”

These desert romances date from the 1920s but saw a surge in popularity after 9/11. The sheikh figures falls in love with a white woman and seeks a military alliance with Anglo-US powers to protect his country from “barbaric forces.” Jarmakani dissects how this fantasy genre plays a role in normalizing the War on Terror.

In a surprising twist, she argues that Islamophobia can be perpetuated through desiring the Arab sheikh figure.

By Amira Jarmakani,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Imperialist Love Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A curious figure stalks the pages of a distinct subset of mass-market romance novels, aptly called "desert romances." Animalistic yet sensitive, dark and attractive, the desert prince or sheikh emanates manliness and raw, sexual power. In the years since September 11, 2001, the sheikh character has steadily risen in popularity in romance novels, even while depictions of Arab masculinity as backward and violent in nature have dominated the cultural landscape.


An Imperialist Love Story contributes to the broader conversation about the legacy of orientalist representations of Arabs in Western popular culture. Combining close readings of novels, discursive analysis of blogs…


Book cover of The Flag and the Cross: White Christian Nationalism and the Threat to American Democracy

Andrew L. Whitehead Author Of American Idolatry: How Christian Nationalism Betrays the Gospel and Threatens the Church

From my list on Christian Nationalism in the United States.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by the relationship between Christianity and the United States for decades. Much of my work in the area of Christian nationalism is the result of my personal religious history and experiences, as well as my work as a social scientist. I’ve always been fascinated by how religion influences and is influenced by its social context. Christian nationalism in the US is a clear example of how influential religious ideologies can be in our social world.

Andrew's book list on Christian Nationalism in the United States

Andrew L. Whitehead Why did Andrew love this book?

While history is important for showing us how we got to where we are, social science is indispensable in helping us understand what exactly is going on around us today.

This book is a must-read for those who want to know how Christian nationalism threatens democracy. The authors conclusively demonstrate the various anti-democratic beliefs and values held by Americans who strongly embrace Christian nationalism.

January 6th wasn’t an aberration, and this book helps us understand the threat we still face.

By Philip S. Gorski, Samuel L. Perry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Flag and the Cross as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bracing examination of a force that imperils American democracy

Most Americans were shocked by the violence they witnessed at the nation's Capital on January 6th, 2021. And many were bewildered by the images displayed by the insurrectionists: a wooden cross and wooden gallows; "Jesus saves" and "Don't Tread on Me;" Christian flags and Confederate Flags; even a prayer in Jesus' name after storming the Senate chamber. Where some saw a confusing jumble, Philip S. Gorski and Samuel L. Perry saw a familiar ideology: white Christian nationalism.

In this short primer, Gorski and Perry explain what white Christian nationalism is…


Book cover of Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist

Dashka Slater Author Of Accountable: The True Story of a Racist Social Media Account and the Teenagers Whose Lives It Changed

From my list on facing down extremism, online and off.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent the past ten years reporting and writing true crime narratives about teenagers and hate, first in The 57 Bus and now in Accountable. My research has led me into some fascinating places and has left me convinced that we cannot prevent what we don’t understand. In both books I found that the young people who harmed others weren’t the stereotypical grimacing loners I’d always associated with hate and extremism. Instead, they were imitating behaviors that we see all around us. Being young, with brains that aren’t fully developed in important ways, and lacking the life experience that teaches us a more nuanced understanding of the world, they are ripe for radicalization.

Dashka's book list on facing down extremism, online and off

Dashka Slater Why did Dashka love this book?

Saslow tells the true story of a white nationalist’s journey out of extremism with the help of some very unlikely allies, one of whom is Jewish.

It’s both a compelling page-turner and an ethical conundrum. What is the best way to respond to the scion of one of the nation’s most influential white nationalist and neo-Nazi families? I found it riveting, revealing, and disturbing, but also moving and uplifting. 

By Eli Saslow,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Rising Out of Hatred as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, the powerful story of how a prominent white supremacist changed his heart and mind. This is a book to help us understand the American moment and to help us better understand one another.

“Rising Out of Hatred proclaims if the successor to the white nationalist movement can forsake his ideological upbringing, can rebirth himself in antiracism, then we can too no matter the personal cost. This book is an inspiration.” —Ibram X. Kendi, bestselling author of How to Be An Antiracist

Derek Black grew up at the epicenter of white nationalism. His father founded Stormfront,…


Book cover of Yaffa and Fatima: Shalom, Salaam

Arthur A. Levine Author Of The Hanukkah Magic of Nate Gadol

From my list on Hanukkah picture books for trying times.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a long career, publishing books that have won the highest awards in the industry, including two books that won Caldecott Medals. I’m best known as the editor of the Harry Potter books. But my expertise in this area also comes from being a father, a reader, and the author of several books with Jewish and intersectional themes.

Arthur's book list on Hanukkah picture books for trying times

Arthur A. Levine Why did Arthur love this book?

My motivations for recommending this book are very similar to the ones that make me recommend the previous book. 

Beyond the rhetoric of the news, what can we reach for that is undeniably true during these holidays that fall during the darkest days of the year?

Hebrew and Arabic have words for “Peace” that are nearly identical. Can we start there on a path to mutual understanding? Fawzia Gilani-Williams imagines this possibility.

By Fawzia Gilani-Williams, Chiara Fedele (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Yaffa and Fatima as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Two neighbors―one Jewish, one Muslim―have always been best friends. When they both fall on hard times, can they find a way to help each other? In Fawzia Gilani's retelling of this folktale―which has both Jewish and Arab origins―differences are not always causes for conflict and friendship can overcome any obstacle.


Book cover of Abdul's Story

Nyasha Williams Author Of I Am Somebody

From my list on encouraging kids to step into their power.

Why am I passionate about this?

I identify as an author, creator, and activist and when I write, I write calling forth the world that our Ancestors dreamed of and deserved and our future generations need. We often forget the power we have as individuals and how that power is amplified in community. I write towards that power being recognized in kids and for them to see how any change they step into can be nurtured and expanded by others. Stepping into Ancestral Veneration, I realize that I never write alone. My Ancestors are always present in my writing, co-creating towards building a sustainable, regenerative, just, decolonized, Indigenized, and liberated world. 

Nyasha's book list on encouraging kids to step into their power

Nyasha Williams Why did Nyasha love this book?

Jamilah Thomkins-Bigelow has threaded a beautiful story around Abdul and his love of telling stories but finds it challenging to transition them into written form.

Abdul describes not seeing himself or his community in the books read in the curriculum at school, which amplifies the doubt in his voice and stories being worth of being in a book. One day a class has a visitor, a writer, who Abdul is able to see himself in. While Abdul continues to struggle with self-doubt in his writing abilities, the visitor allows him to break free from the limitations planted and amplified within himself.

In collaboration with Tiffany Rose's illustrations, Jamilah weaves a beautiful reminder for all Black children who have ever had a doubt— that their stories have and will always matter. 

By Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, Tiffany Rose (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Abdul's Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A little boy who loves storytelling but struggles with writing learns that it's okay to make mistakes in this charming and encouraging picture book from the author of Mommy's Khimar.

Abdul loves to tell stories. But writing them down is hard. His letters refuse to stay straight and face the right way. And despite all his attempts, his papers often wind up with more eraser smudges than actual words. Abdul decides his stories just aren't meant to be written down...until a special visitor comes to class and shows Abdul that even the best writers-and superheroes-make mistakes.


Book cover of More to the Story

Jessica Lawson Author Of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher

From my list on middle grade retellings of classics and fairytales.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up reading all kinds of stories, but I was also a big fan of playing outdoors. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was always a favorite of mine, but as an adult, I realized something…the one main female character who was my age, Becky Thatcher, didn’t seem to like adventure at all! I loved the idea of Becky being as much of a mischief-maker as the boys – and that became my first novel, The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher. I love retellings of classics and how they respect the original story, but are also able to imagine a new path! I hope all readers have adventures, inside and outside of books!

Jessica's book list on middle grade retellings of classics and fairytales

Jessica Lawson Why did Jessica love this book?

More to the Story by Hena Khan is a retelling of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, Little Women. This version features four Muslim Pakistani-American sisters who live in Georgia. Their experiences and personalities both mirror and bring new light to the characters that I read and appreciated as a child. The novel delves into the personal challenges and joint effort of being a family in ways that are authentic and familiar. The details of setting and culture make the characters and story truly stand on their own. The importance of empathy, individuality, and support are all things that I loved about this book.

By Hena Khan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked More to the Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

From the critically acclaimed author of Amina's Voice comes a new story inspired by Louisa May Alcott's beloved classic, Little Women, featuring four sisters from a modern American Muslim family living in Georgia.

When Jameela Mirza is picked to be feature editor of her middle school newspaper, she's one step closer to being an award-winning journalist like her late grandfather. The problem is her editor-in-chief keeps shooting down her article ideas. Jameela's assigned to write about the new boy in school, who has a cool British accent but doesn't share much, and wonders how she'll make his story gripping enough…


Book cover of “Muslim”

Steven Arntson Author Of The Wikkeling

From my list on short contemporary novels in translation.

Why am I passionate about this?

My writing career has been in middle grade and YA, but as a reader I’m always trying to branch out. When I was a kid, literature opened the door to the whole world, and as an adult, I’m still exploring. When I read work in translation I can feel the literary connection to other writers and thinkers and simultaneously appreciate the differences that arise through geographic and cultural heritage. I hope my selections here might help readers like myself who enjoy reaching out to new voices and places.

Steven's book list on short contemporary novels in translation

Steven Arntson Why did Steven love this book?

Translated from French, this beautiful 101-page narrative reads like a poetic meditation. Our character once lived a deeply rural life in North Africa, a cultural and linguistic outsider. Now, as a refugee plunged into a new world of identities, she has been informed that she is Muslim. But what does it mean, this word, across languages and cultures? Deep questions about the interlacing of culture, religion, and geopolitics are posed here with startling urgency in a style that evokes not only the machinations of the state, but the deeply interior world in which we define ourselves to ourselves.

By Zahia Rahmani, Matt Reeck (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked “Muslim” as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Muslim" A Novel is a genre-bending, poetic reflection on what it means to be Muslim from one of France's leading writers. In this novel, the second in a trilogy, Rahmani's narrator contemplates the loss of her native language and her imprisonment and exile for being Muslim, woven together in an exploration of the political and personal relationship of language within the fraught history of Islam. Drawing inspiration from the oral histories of her native Berber language, the Koran, and French children's tales, Rahmani combines fiction and lyric essay in to tell an important story, both powerful and visionary, of identity,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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