352 pages; HarperOne
To a boy growing up in Pakistan, prayers were a taste of paradise, proof against Soviet invaders and demons of a less substantial kind. The world was awash with spirits, and calls to heroic virtue were irresistible. Ali Eteraz's memoir, Children of Dust, describes this ardent young Muslim's picaresque journey from a brutal Pakistani madrassa (oddly reminiscent of a British boys' school) to America's Bible Belt ("Allahbama," in his devout but increasingly modern eyes), where he braved the sexual fantasyland of AOL and zealously warded off temptation in miniskirts. Though Eteraz's dreams of glory would eventually take a mundane turn ("I wanted Wolf Blitzer to do a story about me"), his adventures are a heavenly read.