Rebuilding My Bookshelves

One of the most difficult things about my move to a different country is the fact that I had to leave more than 90% of my books behind. They were too heavy and there was no way I could cram them all into my suitcases… unless I was prepared not to pack anything else. So I only brought twenty books with me, and they’ve been looking at me forlornly from their single small shelf since I got to Dubai… so sad was their appearance that I had to find them company. Fast.

My big pile o' books.

My big pile o’ books.

I arrived here on the 18th of October. Since then I’ve accumulated 11 news books, bringing my total to a whopping 31. I’m trying hard not to bring that number up anymore for the time being, but it’s proving to be so incredibly difficult. The bookshops here are absolutely lovely, and far bigger and better than anything I found back in Lebanon. One particular bookshop, Kinokuniya, was so big I needed four hours to browse through it. And even then I was barely thorough. I was so overwhelmed by the fact that there were many books there that I’d been looking for and hadn’t been able to find before. My wallet complained. Loudly.

So yeah. I bought a lot of books. And I found myself buying a lot of hardcovers too. I usually buy paperbacks, but in the face of all the gorgeous hardcovers I came across I could not resist. This country has corrupted me. But for now, I’m just going to highlight a few of my favourite picks! Continue reading

Sweet Snapshot Sunday #4

One post ago I mentioned that I was going to be moving. At the time, I didn’t really believe it. Even though I was packing and having such a difficult time deciding which books I should take with me, it still hadn’t sunk it that in a few days time I was going to find myself in an entirely different country. For some reason this made me very depressed, and I was susceptible to random bouts of crying.

Thankfully, that’s behind me now. I guess I should give a bit more information… I’ve moved to Dubai, UAE. Some of you might remember that I’ve spent the first 19 years of my life there before eventually going to Lebanon. This country is more of a home to me than my actual home country. It’s where I grew up, it’s where I feel comfortable, it’s where I feel free to be myself. It’s changed a bit in the few years I was away, it grew and developed… but I still see in it the home I once left behind.

But I’m happy now. I’m starting my independent life. I take the metro to work every day, I have morning walks by the edge of the lake on my way to the office, I’m taking charge of my work, I’m hunting for an apartment, I’m getting all my paperwork in order… and I’m also of course discovering all the new dessert spots in town. ;)

Triple Chocolate Cake

Triple Chocolate Cake

Continue reading

A Bibliophile’s Packing Dilemma

I’m moving on Friday, to a whole new job, a whole new city, a whole new country in fact. I’m excited and terrified at the same time. This is a whole new level of independence and responsibility that I’ve never had before, and knowing me, I will either screw up badly or do brilliantly. There’s no middle ground.

One of the things I’m really looking forward to is having my own place and furnishing it the way I like (priorities, amirite?). I’ve started looking at apartment listings and furniture catalogues already. I have visions of myself strolling through IKEA, seeing my perfect living room/bed room and saying, “This is it. This is so me.” I am also on the lookout for the perfect bookshelf… which brings us to the title of this post.

HOW THE HELL DO I CHOOSE WHICH BOOKS TO TAKE?

*clears throat*

Books, I’ve discovered, are very heavy indeed. 10 paperbacks and 5 hardbacks together weight 6.7 kg (14.7) pounds. I’m only allowed 40 kg for my flight, of which 10 kg have already been taken up by the weight of my bags themselves. Speaking of bags, I had absolutely no idea they could cost so much; I was so shocked! Anyway. I have about 400 books on my shelves, out of which there are 65 books I haven’t read it (give or take). My first solution?

Read All the Books

I thought I was making good progress. I was reading one book per day. But with a sinking feeling, I realised that if I were to read all my books before leaving, I would need to go through at least 6 per day. Impossible. Distraught, I started thinking of other tactics. Continue reading

Is my name against me?

Zeinab Alayan. 

If you were browsing the shelves of a bookstore and came upon a book with that name printed across the cover, what would you do? Would you ignore it, regardless of how interesting it seemed, and move on to another book written by a clearly English native? Or would you give it your time of day because in the end it’s the story that matters?

I know that most of us would say that we’d pick it up. It’s the morally right answer. A book is a book regardless of who writes it. It shouldn’t matter if the author is English or Arabic or Indian or whatever else. Yet I can’t help but think that this is the answer we want to give, not the one we’re subconsciously thinking. Maybe we do discriminate against people with foreign/exotic names without even realising it. I mean… I only caught myself doing it recently… allowing my eyes to glaze over English books with Arabic authors in favour of books with English authors.

I paused. Then I felt disgusted with myself. Then I felt like a hypocrite. For so many years I’ve wondered if the fact that I was an Arab had anything to do with the fact that many agents wouldn’t even look at my manuscript, and now I end up doing the same to others. Continue reading

Don’t forget to eat chocolate!

This reminder might seem unnecessary to some, because of course chocolate is not something one would forget to eat. However, it is highly important that you have some today, because the 13th of September happens to be International Chocolate Day!

I have been obsessing over this since last night, trying to figure out how to celebrate it. I am extremely busy with work but a day like this cannot go unnoticed! First I figured I could buy some chocolate bars, but that seemed like a poor way to celebrate, then I upgraded my thinking process to baked goodies (cakes, brownies, cookies) but even those didn’t make it feel all that special… plus I would end up with a destroyed kitchen that would take hours to clean.

So I went all the way. An international day celebrating the thing I love most had to be given its proper due, and that meant going to a patisserie and buying ALL THE THINGS. Well… erm, some things anyway. I had ice-cream and an assortment of cakes!

How else can you celebrate ICD? Continue reading

Don’t read my book!

Yes, you heard me. I don’t want anyone reading  the book I worked so hard to write. Not indefinitely, of course, but at least until I correct my horrendous writing mistakes. There are two reasons I avoid reading my books after I’ve published them:  1) I don’t want to find that I’ve missed some awful typos (like writing “nut” instead of “but), and 2) I don’t want to see how bad my writing is.

Sigh.

When they tell you that a writer is their own worst critic, they are definitely not joking. Seeing the words I wrote nearly three years ago makes me cringe. Heck, seeing the words I wrote five months ago makes me cringe. On one hand, that’s a good thing because it means I’m improving and my writing is becoming better and better, but on the other, it means I don’t like anything I published in the past. I’m almost embarrassed by it. Continue reading

My Book Hangover

My eyes are bloodshot and my mind groggy after staying up until 9 a.m. today trying to meet a work deadline. Of course, that would not have happened if I’d put the book I’d been reading aside instead of making up my mind to finish it because supposedly I could not focus until it was over. Before I knew it, the clock struck midnight and I had over 10 pages to translate and 30 to edit.

This series has managed to do the impossible and made me love it as much as I love Harry Potter.

This series has managed to do the impossible and made me love it as much as I love Harry Potter.

I usually am able to curb my book hunger, but last night was just impossible. I was reading the third book in the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson - The Hero of Ages. I don’t often review books on my blog unless they’re indies, but this one series had such a profound impact on me that it really does deserve a mention. I’d never before come across a book with a political and magic system so extensive and complex, or one with so many vibrant characters, where every single person had a part to play. The story had so many twists and turns that I could never, not in a million years, see coming. After every book I sat down in awe of the sheer brilliance of the author and his ability to keep his characters alive in my head long after I’d replaced his books on the shelf. Continue reading