For those of us who would like to learn more about the Islam faith, could you recommend two or three books? I've been wanting to start reading, but there's so much out there, and I'm not sure which are accurate and which are caricatures. Thank you.
Of course, if you really want to learn about Islam, the one book to read above all would be the Qur'an. Although there are numerous translations available, I'd recommend A. Yusuf Ali's with commentary. (There are a number of different versions of this book available.) Yusuf Ali's translation is known for being quite readable and has extensive, very helpful commentary throughout.
Another book I'd recommend is Jeffrey Lang's Struggling to Surrender: Some Impressions of an American Convert to Islam. When one of my sisters asked for a book explaining Islam, this is what I gave her. Lang is an white American revert to Islam, and a professor of mathematics at the University of Kansas. The book provides a good overview of Islam, although the writing gets a little academic in places (he is a professor after all ;) ). This was Lang's first book; he's come out with several others since then. I don't know that I'd recommend them (the second book, Even Angels Ask: A Journey to Islam in America was very similar to Struggling to Surrender; I didn't feel he covered a lot of new ground in this book. As for his third book, I haven't read it yet.)
Karen Armstrong has also written two good books about Islam; I'd recommend either: Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet or Islam: A Short History. Finally, for teenagers (and adults), I would recommend Paul Lunde's Islam: Faith, Culture, History. This is a quasi-coffee-table book and, like many DK books, is loaded with beautiful photographs.