Read This Book

Read This Book . . .

Welcome to Read this Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that needs to jump onto your TBR pile! This week, I’m recommending a National Book Award finalist that you won’t want to miss.

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a graphic of the cover of Temple Folk by Aaliyah Bilal

Temple Folk by Aaliyah Bilal

I’ve been reading a short story a day through December as an advent calendar of sorts, and Temple Folk might be my favorite. The stories revolve around a community of Black Muslims, each with their stories to tell and secrets to hide.

In “Due North,” a young woman keeps being visited by the spirit of her father, a well known and respected Imam. Her estranged, queer brother arrives for the funeral, and they discover that their father requested to be buried in the graveyard of a Christian church he used to pastor. In “Nikkah,” Qadirah struggles with adjusting to the idea that her best friend is getting married and moving out of their shared apartment. But when Qadirah joins a Muslim dating app and starts talking with a man who lives across the world, she begins to see a new future for herself.

So many of these stories center around Black Muslims, or former Muslims, specifically characters confronted with choices around their faith. Who should they marry? Should they cover their hair? Should they call out the men they see cheating on their wives? These big questions put the character in tight spots, and they soon discover that this moment in their lives, and the decisions they make, will determine their future forever.

Together, these stories create a portrait of a Muslim community, with the temple at its center. Each story fills in another piece of the greater whole. The stories connect together and overlap in unique ways. They share themes and ideas, forming this well-rounded short story collection.

The audiobook is performed by an ensemble of narrators—Amir Abdullah, Chanté McCormick, Soneela Nankani, Leon Nixon, Jade Wheeler—who rotate performing each of the stories. This creates a unique voice for each story, easily moving the listener from one story to another.

That’s it for this week! You can find me over on my substack Winchester Ave, over on Instagram @kdwinchester, or on my podcast Read Appalachia. As always, feel free to drop me a line at For even MORE bookish content, you can find my articles over on Book Riot.

Happy reading, Friends!

~ Kendra