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I Can't Think Straight
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I Can't Think Straight

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  5,176 ratings  ·  204 reviews
Tala, a London-based Palestinian, is preparing for her elaborate Middle Eastern wedding when she meets Leyla, a young British Indian woman who is dating her best friend.

Spirited Christian Tala and shy Muslim Leyla could not be more different from each other, but the attraction is immediate and goes deeper than friendship. As Tala’s wedding day approaches, simmering tension
Paperback, 216 pages
Published November 11th 2008 by Enlightenment Press
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Average rating 4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,176 ratings  ·  204 reviews

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chan ☆
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020
ok so the author directed the movie

the movie is word for word from the book so

basically i read the book
Cross-posted at Outlaw Reviews and at Shelf Inflicted

This was the perfect book to read while I was snowed in and work was closed.

Tala is a Palestinian living in London. She’s very outgoing and forthright. After three engagements, her parents really hope this one will stick. Hani is a very nice guy and Tala loves him. Leyla is an Indian Muslim. She works at a job she’s not passionate about, while her true love is writing. Other than a mutual attraction, Tala and Leyla have little in common. They
K.J. Charles
On the one hand I want to flail and scream about this book because I enjoyed it so much and on the other I want to shake whoever edited it.

It is BRILLIANT FUN. There's rich jetsetting Palestinian Tala in Amman, on her fourth engagement, and middle class British Indian Leyla who works in her dad's insurance company but wants to be a writer. They meet, they fall hard, both have to come to terms with their sexuality and also with the different cultural pressures.

It's an ensemble piece, where the
Pamela J.
Sep 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a truly enjoyable book that exceeds the expectations of lesbian romance and provides interesting and complex political, cultural and religious settings.
I Can't Think Straight is really two stories; that of Christian Palestinian Tala and that of Muslim Indian Leyla. The two women meet coincidentally and their off and on encounters keep tension alive while growing a meaningful connection and mutual affinity.
The L word . . .
If you're looking for smut, this ain't it. It's the tale of a mor
Oct 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoughts on a book so good I'll need more time to wrap up my thoughts...

I really, really like this book. It is not just well-written and thoughtful, gripping and genuine, _I Can't Think Straight_ speaks to anyone who has ever felt pressured to be part of something because parents or society expect it, not because it is what you yourself truly want.

'But there was a reason why romance and passion were so suited to fiction; and to learn this lesson was a function of maturity...a growth away from th
Apr 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club, lgbtqibbq
Oh dear. We seem to have picked a far from great book for book club this month. It wasn't offensively bad, but the writing was inelegant and the story didn't really seem to have anything to say. The author also commited the cardinal sin of flitting from one character's head to another from one paragraph to the next: possibly my number one peeve in bad writing.

Seemed like it wouldn't make a bad film though, so perhaps it's worth tracking that down.
I've had a copy of this book forever and a friend mentioned the book and I was prodded a little to read it. My fear in the past would be that the book was just like the movie which I had seen a couple of times. The book is just like the movie almost reading like a screenplay. But that is not good or bad for anyone else.

First of all, wow. A lesbian relationship between an Indian Muslim and a Jordanian Christian. Luckily the two women are not that religious. I don't think any of the characters wer
Jacob Proffitt
I didn't realize as I read this that it's an older book recently re-released. Which explains some minor dissonance around phones (which are present but in a slightly-odd, late-aughts kind of way).

Anyway, this book suffers a little from its scope as the author takes on many viewpoints and head-hops with abandon. Which makes sense once you read in the afterword that the screenplay was written first and the author is a director? or something? Which isn't to say that it's poorly written, though I ha
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very, very, absolutely ridiculously biased rating. Another reviewer wrote, "But I have to ask myself, when I read queer stories, if I like it because it's a love story between two women or if it's because it's actually a good story." I absolutely liked this because it's a love story between two women. Two brown women. Two brown women played in the film by one of my favourite people-I-don't-actually-know and a friend of a friend. And I absolutely liked this book because I liked the film ...more
Miranda Schingledecker
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book! I had watched the movie before reading it and I greatly appreciated the extra in depth look into the individual characters. This was a nice feel good story about love without all the extra unnecessary drama and over-sexed descriptions that usually go with it! The pages flew by!
Jun 15, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a waste of potential. I was looking forward to this book, which seemed so well loved and hit so many of my wish list items for lesbian romance (most notably, diversity), but honestly even if I hadn't had high hopes for this book it still would have disappointed.

The writing. My god, the writing. I will give it to Sarif: I had a very well rounded sense of the setting, right down to the minute details of the pattern on the china and the irrelevant backstory of how the main character's chain-sm
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was the first ever lesfic that I read and I got it only because I had watched the movie and absolutely loved it. This book is one for the 're-read many times' pile. If read by itself, you may not understand all the intricacies. But the book beautifully complements the movie and covers certain scenes which were left behind in the movie. Some scenes which were missing in the book could be found in the movie. If I'd been reviewing the two together, I'd give them 15 stars. But separately, this ...more
C. Mack
Jul 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I would highly recommend - Addresses some interesting themes of sexuality, religion and culture without getting too deep that it overshadows the overall love story.

I've just completed this as an audio book and I was surprised to find I enjoyed it more than when I read it myself. It was superbly narrated and I thoroughly enjoyed this tge second time round.
I actually did not know this was a book for the longest time. I had only heard of the film, which was directed by the author herself. I'm surprised this book is not more popular on lesbian book lists and recommended reads--it is funny, insightful, and a very classic love story. I'm guessing the movie eclipsed the book's popularity.

I chose to read this book at this time because it was the December pick for the Lesbian Book Club, though there hasn't been too much discussion yet.

It was very nice t
4.5 stars

This was such a fluffy and pleasant read, with some unexpected depth at times! I loved most of the characters and I especially enjoyed Tala, as well as felt sorry for her. I didn't feel that Leyla was as developed, but I still liked her! Their sisters Zina and Yasmin were super enjoyable as well (Lamia...well, I feel sad for her but she also frustrated me a lot). I really liked that we got to know their families, because it added depth to the story. I also liked how the book had some di
Ashley Reid
I was really trying to like this because so many people recommended it to me. Unfortunately it lost my interest in the first chapter and didn't get it back throughout the book. ...more
Mar 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The movie was AMAZING so can't wait to read the book :3 It's weird, I think this is the first time I've done it vise versa... I nearly always read the book before watching the movie because Hollywood tends to ruin everything. I guess that's just one of the downfalls of a book not being the library and being very, very, VERY cheap. I dislike spending money...


You know, I *used to* hate reading books that have been made into movies, or movies
This book was so problematic for me for so many reasons, mostly to do with the writing.

First, there's a bit of Instalove happening between Tala and Leyla, so much so that I'm supposed to believe that a) they fall in love as quickly as they do and that b) they're each other's soulmates. It's not that I found them unlikeable; it's just that I found them to be boring. So I'm a bit at a loss to understand why they clicked so instantly with the each other. Tala is more problematic than Leyla, but sh
Jul 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009-read, lgbt
I must confess, I watched the movie before I read this book.

Shamim Sarif tells the story of two women fighting for independence within their families and struggling to determine their own identities. Tala is the head-strong, Palestinian, Christian, who lives in Amman, Jordan with her wealthy family. Leyla is the Muslim, Indian, who lives in the London suburbs with her family. The two met and must determine what love is worth.

The characters, both main and supporting, are well developed in this n
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves
After watching this movie a good 50 times, I knew the book would be a must read. Although I undoubtedly loved the movie, I felt as if something were missing & I had multiple questions. Just as I expected, the book provided more insight on the characters & my questions were answered. Of course there are some slight differences between the movie & the book, but overall, I was enamored with the book. This was one of those hard to put down books & although I had an inkling that I'd enjoy the book be ...more
Grace Leigh
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Delightful to read! The regular doses of wit and humor did a wonderful job of lightening up the more serious themes of the book (i.e. coming out to your parents, discovering your true self and what makes you happy, etc.). This was a pure joy to read and wickedly funny! Shamim Sarif is an excellent author and does a wonderful job of balancing the story with lighthearted humor and just the right amount of seriousness and all the emotional nuances and feelings we experience when growing up and fall ...more
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It was the first lesbian book and movie I read and saw. :) Since then I couldn't think straight anymore. :P
They both mean a lot to me.
They helped me a lot with dealing with me sexuality, coming out and think about other cultures. That story really changed my life, and Shamim's sense of humor is amazing. I remember I read all "I Can't Think Straight" on a flight and I was trying very hard not to laugh loud because it was in the middle of the night and I was the only one awake. It always put a smi
Feb 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Almost word for word the movie, yet had some different or longer scenes. Both are very good. It was interesting to see the minor differences between book and film, as some worked better than their counterparts. Both are just different enough that I honestly couldn't say I prefer one over the other, but rather I like them equally well. ...more
Jul 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Loved this story, even more than the film! It's funny, poetical, poignant and very enlightening about cultures I know nothing about. Time to watch the film again! ...more
T.B. Markinson
Aug 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shamim Sarif’s novel, I CAN’T THINK STRAIGHT, focuses on several issues that are close to my heart: love, friendship, and families. Many of us can relate to these topics on some level, even if the main characters come from different backgrounds.

Tala is a Palestinian who lives in London. In the opening pages, she’s preparing for her engagement party. This isn’t the first time she’s been engaged and Tala’s mother and sister fear that she might blow this opportunity again. Tala loves the man she’s
May 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
I usually read a book first before I see the movie. In this case I did not, because I didn't know there was a book before I saw the film. This kinda ruined my reading experience. But oh well, 'I can't think straight' was still a nice read. One thing though: not all lesbians watch 'The L Word' and listen to k.d. lang and not everyone who watches 'The L word' and listens to k.d. lang is a lesbian ;) ...more
Oct 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Its such a breath of fresh air to find books (as well as movies) that you can relate to. Its definitely an exciting time to be on the fore front of breaking the conventional views of unions between a man and a woman, & allowing the rise of homosexuality to settle in society to be accepted. This book is not only a love story, but a story of coming out against the grain of cultural expectations. It hits home and makes you realize that you arent alone on this journey of self discovery.
Sarah Fonseca
Shamim Sarif is worlds better at prose than screenwriting. The plotholes in the movie were nonexistent in the novel. A fun, lighthearted read worth passing on to other fans of fluffy lesbian lit.
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘Her first fiancé was my best friend at university, I met Tala through him’

British author Shamim Sarif is also a film director and screenwriter and speaker – she has spoken at TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) events worldwide, at the INK (platform for the exchange of cutting-edge ideas and inspiring stories) Conference in India and DLD (Digital Life Design) in Munich. Her corporate speaking events have included Deloitte, Goldman Sachs and Citibank in London and Viacom in New York. Now Sha
Feb 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, lgbtq, audiobook

I listened to this on audiobook and while I liked the narrator, all the POV shifts made it really hard to follow along and I constantly found myself wondering whose POV it was now because it changed so suddenly. That really lessened my enjoyment of the book because I spent so much time just being confused.

Overall it’s a decent read. I was looking for a cute romance and while there is a romance at the center of the book, you also get the POV of lots of different side characters (family memb
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Was the book written after the movie was made or before? 2 12 Jan 13, 2015 07:19PM  

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Born in the UK, Shamim is an award-winning novelist, screenwriter, and director.

Her next book, The Athena Protocol, is an all-female YA contemporary action thriller that is published by Harper Teen in September 2019.

Her debut novel, The World Unseen, won a Betty Trask award and the Pendleton May First Novel award.

Shamim has adapted and directed the films of three of her novels including, most r

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Get in the mood with our list of the top 100 romances of all time. We narrowed the field by limiting our results to books aimed at...
264 likes · 461 comments
“Every night I empty my heart, but by morning it's full again.
Slow droplets of you seep in through the night's soft caress.
At dawn, I overflow with thoughts of us
An aching pleasure that gives me no respite.
Love cannot be contained, the neat packaging of desire
Splits asunder, spilling crimson through my days.
Long, languishing days that are now bruised tender with yearning,
Spent searching for a fingerprint, a scent, a breath you left behind.”
“It was the downfall of love, Lamia thought wistfully, that it inspired the lover to toss away any shred of caution just to obtain the pure, desperate pleasure of talking about the beloved.” 6 likes
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