This is hands down the most electrifying book cover that’s come across my desk in my recent memory: the words Love, Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women emblazoned over lacy lingerie tantalizingly dropped on an unkempt bed. If Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi, the editors of this intoxicating compilation of 25 personal narratives, are to be believed, Muslim women flirt, date, have sex, and fall in love, just like everyone else. Who knew?
The essays range from hilarious (a 14-year-old being given a crash course in the birds and the bees by her mom in a movie-theater parking lot) to heart-wrenching (a woman who realizes that her non-Muslim fiancé has an insurmountable disdain for her faith); from chaste (an endearing tale of a girl passing up a chance to make out with her model-hot trainer) to steamy (a bittersweet retelling of a passionate weeklong affair with a Muslim punk rocker). Premarital sex, arranged marriage, online dating, polygamous relationships, date rape, lesbian romances—everything is recounted with refreshing honesty and courage. My favorite section was, unsurprisingly, International Habibti: Love Overseas, full of enticing encounters in the Andes, Sri Lanka, and Cairo—who hasn’t fantasized about meeting a mysterious, accented, handsome stranger in an exotic, faraway land?
Travel + Leisure's FebruaryTrip of the Month is a classic two-week itinerary in Turkey. In association with Travel + Leisure Elite Traveler, our travel club for deals on hotels, cruises, and more, the Trip of the Month offers T+L readers exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime itineraries from the world’s top tour operators.
Hot off the release of the second edition of best-seller 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (Workman; $19.95)—featuring 28 new countries, including Ghana, Nicaragua, and South Korea—the globe-trotting author sat down with T+L.
Q: What can readers expect this time around? A: No sooner was the ink dry on the 2003 edition than I saw destinations that were on their way to being better equipped for visitors: former Soviet-bloc countries and war zones, places like the Balkans and Colombia. Now is their moment.
Q: Is there someplace you wish you could have included? A: Libya would have been great for armchair travel. Its future looks just too unstable right now.
Q: What were some of your best discoveries? A: Ireland’s Aran Islands are remote and otherworldly. And it’s hard to believe you are still in Europe in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains and the pristine swath of Transylvania—one of the most untouched corners left on the continent.
Q: Where are you going next? A: Turks and Caicos, for my annual luxury-on-the-beach reprieve. Grace Bay Club and Parrot Cay, here I come!
It’s no secret that I’m an avid Bollywood aficionado—one of my goals in life is to lead the T+L staff in an Indian-inspired flash mob someday. But it looks like FinnAir’s ingenious flight attendants beat me to the punch: in honor of India’s Republic Day today, the entire crew of a Helsinki—New Delhi flight surprised delighted passengers with a choreographed routine set to the 2007 hit “Om Shanti Om.” Not a bad way to spice up a long trip!
Now that’s my kind of in-flight entertainment.
Sarah Khan is a copy editor at Travel + Leisure. You can follow her on Twitter @BySarahKhan.
Don't miss Travel + Leisure’s January Trip of the Month, Quintessential South Africa. In association with Travel + Leisure Elite Traveler, our travel club for deals on hotels, cruises, and more, the Trip of the Month offers T+L readers exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime itineraries from the world’s top tour operators.
If You’re ... a City-Dwelling Nature Lover Read ...High Line: The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky by Joshua David and Robert Hammond (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; $29.95) Because ... This account by the founders of the nonprofit responsible for the groundbreaking reclamation project chronicles the struggles and successes that led to the realization of what was deemed a far-fetched dream—and resulted in a new Manhattan landmark.
If You’re ... a Gastronaut Read ...The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food by Adam Gopnik (Alfred A. Knopf; $25.95) Because ... Gopnik takes a philosophical approach to food on his quest to understand our gastronomic obsessions. From tracing the origins of the restaurant as we know it back to mid-19th-century France to describing revolutionary approaches to culinary arts at Spain’s recently shuttered El Bulli, no dish is left unscraped in this witty treatise.
If You’re ... a Treasure Hunter Read ...The Grand Bazaar Istanbul by Serdar Gülgün (Assouline; $250) Because ... You’ll lose yourself in the sumptuous pages of this glossy tome, which spotlights can’t-miss boutiques at one of the world’s liveliest markets.
If You’re ... a Fiction Fiend Read ...Noon by Aatish Taseer (Faber & Faber; $25) Because ... Given his unique pedigree—raised in Delhi by an Indian mother and estranged from his father, a Pakistani political figure assassinated earlier this year—Taseer’s novel offers an insider’s perspective on the realities of high-society India and Pakistan.