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Girls of Riyadh

by Emma on February 23, 2012

in Books

I have been reading Girls of Riyadh since about a week before Valentine’s day. It was sort of the perfect book to read this month as it’s all about love and relationships but set among a culture that is both foreign and extremely interesting when examining those types of relationships. It’s like if Sex in the City or Gossip Girl was set in Saudi Arabia instead of the US. The social (and legal) boundaries between men and women are much more severe than in my own, so reading about the these four female friends and their journey to find love was really neat.

This would have still been a fun read had it been set in a culture more similar to mine, but what made it a great read was seeing all the differences the characters face and yet still had similar reactions to what I’ve seen in myself and other friends when face with… matters of the heart. I don’t know how you are when you read a book about love, but I’m usually surprised or at least get the chance to reexamine my own opinions and reactions to it as I find myself rooting for or disagreeing with a character’s choice. And then sometimes an author can get you to change your mind completely, based on a few actions from a character you previously considered somewhat a villain. That’s always interesting to me.

This was a really good read, I would put it slightly above a just a ‘pleasure read’ as I feel like I actually did learn a bit about a different culture due to the setting and the author’s honestly. So… yeah… I totally recommend this one.

What have you been reading lately???

Happy reading adventures! xo. Emma

P.S. The illustration to the right of book cover was created by Martha Rich, found here. Loved it!


Anna im Wunderland February 23, 2012 at 4:30 pm

That sounds like a fun read, I’ll definitely give it a go!

Fiona February 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm

I loved Girls of Riyadh! I find I sometimes enjoy books where I can’t immediately relate to the decisions that the characters make more than if it’s something really similar to my own personality/culture.

I’m reading Wide Sargasso Sea at the moment – really enjoying it!

Margherita February 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm

I just order it on Amazon, can’t wait to read it!

robyn February 23, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I’ve heard about this book and nearly picked it up in the airport a number of times-I think I would like it.

I am just finishing Zanzibar Chest – if you like Africa, or reading about Africa- this is a great book for you. I am gripped. It is written by a Kenyan journalist, about his life as a journalist in Africa, but also about his family history. A really good read.

melany February 23, 2012 at 4:51 pm

i just finished Austenland by Shannon Hale – so good! i read it in like 2 days. definitely check it out if you’re a jane austen fan. :)

Isabel, Wake up & smell the azahar February 23, 2012 at 5:08 pm


Isabel, Wake up & smell the azahar February 23, 2012 at 5:10 pm

I loved that book, I really like to learn about other’s cultures, it’s something pretty enriching. Ps. Excuse the previous senseless comment, I don’t know how to delete it.

teddi February 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm

i haven’t heard of it, but it sounds like my type of book. learning through reading has taught me so much. are the words written like a lyrical poem?

kristi February 23, 2012 at 6:04 pm

I just finished reading “A Break With Charity” by Ann Rinaldi, she is the BEST at taking historical facts and creating a fictional book using them in her own interpretation! This one is about the Salem Witch Trials… So good and a pretty quick read!

debbie February 23, 2012 at 6:33 pm

this is so interesting! I might want to check it out. The last book I read was “Purge” by Sofie Oksanen – it was fantastic.

Emily February 23, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Definitely sounds interesting. I am always up for a book suggested by someone else. I just started reading peach keeper. I love the other 3 (maybe only 2 I can’t remember) books by Sarah Addison Allen. Great fun reads…. and always with a food twist you might like them if you haven’t read them already.

Reannon Hope February 24, 2012 at 1:46 pm

I love her books! I haven’t got the Peach keeper yet but now you have said it was good I want to go get it :)

kale @ tastes good to me! February 23, 2012 at 8:40 pm

This book sounds really cool! Thanks for the recommendation. :)

Lesley February 24, 2012 at 12:51 am

I completely agree with your review. I read this a few years ago and really enjoyed it.

Jess February 24, 2012 at 1:51 am

I haven’t read this book, but it sounds like one I like. Have you read A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini? It is one of my favorite books of all time and set in Afghanistan. I will add this to my wishlist!

I just finished reading both the Hunger Game and the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogies. Very recommended!

Emilia February 24, 2012 at 10:06 am

Wow, this book sounds fascinating. I adore types of fun “chick-lit” style books and this seems like a perfect marriage between those and something a bit more culturally aware. On to the reading list it goes! Currently, I’m reading Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburnt Country (about Australia). It’s amazing so far!

Karina K February 24, 2012 at 2:56 pm

I just finished Divergent by Veronica Roth, it took me a day and half to finish it! I really like, kinda similar to Hunger Games.

Last month I read Commencement after you recommended it and I really loved it!

Jenny February 24, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Upon your recommmendation I read “Shanghai Girls” and loved it, then I went on to read the next one in the series, ” Dreams of Joy,” even more interesting. About different cultures as, well funny enough. I love Lisa See’s writing. I just finished Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” and really enjoyed laughing throughout it.

sarah February 24, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I loved the Girls of Riyadh. I read it in a book club two years ago. If you liked that I would recommend, the People’s Republic of Desire. It’s Sex and the City meets Beijing (link to book below). Same kind of thing as Girls of Riyadh, different culture.

Seriously Sassy Mama February 24, 2012 at 7:58 pm

I am reading The Outlander and Chamber of Secrets.

Jaime February 24, 2012 at 9:17 pm

I love your book reviews! I have never heard of this book before, but I want to read it now! Based on your description, it sounds like I would love it.

Sara February 25, 2012 at 9:39 pm

This book seems really interesting, I’ll have to put it on my list. I’m currently reading Jean Auel’s Plain’s of Passage (Book 4 in the Clan of the Cave Bear series)

Joanna February 25, 2012 at 11:39 pm

On Reading Lolita in Tehran is a good read, a heavy read, that introduces its reader to life in Tehran, Iran and how the government/religion changes affected the progessive culture, especially for women. It’s no love story, but it’s eye opening.
I’m diving into my first Neil Gaimen short stories, and I’m excited about them : )

Moi February 26, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Sounds like a great book! On to the list it goes:) I just finished reading The Great Gatsby which I should have read ages ago and definately recomend!

Jianna Gonzalez February 27, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Keep blogging.

Noor March 23, 2012 at 8:59 pm

I actually live in Riyadh <3 I read this book awhile its really good. If you like it you should try the Princess trilogy by Jean Sasson they are AWESOME..

Natalie March 24, 2012 at 5:54 am

Hi! I’m Australian and started reading your blog while I was living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last year. I’m glad that people are branching out from their regular reading and looking into some different cultures, not many seem to want to concern themselves by getting educated about the rest of the world. Keep up the great work :)