9. 100 Essential Non-Fiction Books: The Harem Within – By Fatimah Mernissi

This is at the top of my list for a varietyr of reasons; when I read it, I think 20 years ago now, it did change a lot for me at that time. The book itself is aboit strictures but it is also about transgressions; its about tresspass – I mean another title for it is Dreams of Tresspass: Tales of a Morrocan Harem Girl. It changed things for me on so many levels becaysse it resonated so deeply with I syppose echoes of a life that I might have had, given the Sahelian background which the Morrocan life very much mirrors. But because it is called The Harem Within, it also talks aboit the strictures within us, not just the physical overt spaces that you walk through and are forbidden to you, but also the way in which your mind is constructed to create these doors and these blocks and this was something that I had struggled with for quite a few years, in my late teens and early twenties, so reading this book was this amazing kind of permission in many ways to be the rebellious person that I had alreafy been condemned on so many levels for being. And that is what is so great about this book, its a memoir, so it goes into great detail, and each character is painted so vividly that you can actually see these women, you can see their chalenges, but also you can see their resilience. For that it will forever be an inspiration and despite the fact, tgat the time she was talking about we are talking is early to mid 20th century, it still very much resonates now.