Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
A powerful autobiography, painful to read at every chapter. Ali has become famous for renouncing Islam and shining a harsh spotlight on the lives of women in Muslim context cultures all over the world. (Here is a recent op-ed piece by her.) Much of what she says isn't popular, Nick Kristof, for example reviewed her most recent book and her anti-Islamic remarks very harshly.
This is truly a rags-to-riches story. Ali was born into an unstable family in an unstable country (Somalia) and spends most of her life as a refugee. She recounts her life as a Muslim Somali growing up in both "Christian" Kenya and in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Female circumcision, beatings from her mother and one of her Koran instructors, family killed and dislocated in civil wars, a harsh life without much love. Ali escapes an arranged marriage and takes refuge in Holland, where she puts herself through school and eventually becomes a member of parliament. Now she's a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (unfortunately making her an enemy of the political Left).
If you have an interest in the plight of Muslim women, then this book is a must-read. If you're interested in what folk, every day Islam looks like and how rigid militant Islam has evolved in places like Somalia then this is also an informative book.
I highly recommend the audio version which is read by the author. The most important books to read are the ones that are the most difficult to keep reading. This was a tough book to finish.
In a related note, I would love to see a conversation between Ali and Ziauddin Sardar.
4.5 stars out of 5.