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Bookstores as reality check

July 3, 2009

From Ode, “The Online Community for Intelligent Optimists,” is this fascinating little piece posted by Keri Douglas

Cairo bookstore promotes diversity through literature

Often when I travel, I look for a good local bookstore. I am curious to know what people are reading and what is the role of the bookstore in the community. Plus, I have found that books can be treasures that transport you back in history or possibly forward in time to events yet to take place.

In Cairo, I discovered Diwan Bookstore in Zamalek. It is a special bookstore featuring books in Arabic, English, French and German. When I entered, they had on display front and center their recommended books, among them:

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama in Arabic
The Map of Love: A Novel by Ahdaf Soueif
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Loot: The Battle over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World by Sharon Waxman
The Naqib’s Daughter by Samia Seregeldin
The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East by Robert Fisk
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

A bookstore is always a healthy reality check on society. Here the recommended reading list includes two books by a U.S. President (note one is in Arabic); a frequently banned or censored book in the US; a well-know Egyptian woman author; a book challenging the notion of who owns the antiquities; and, an Italian murder mystery set in the year 1327. The notion to include all of these books in one section is brilliant, in my opinion.

My personal favorites from this visit include:

The Son of a Duck Is a Floater: An Illustrated Book of Arab Proverbs by Primrose Arnander and Ashkhain Skipwith
The Literature of Ancient Egypt: An Anthology of Stories, Instructions, and Poetry, New Edition edited by William Kelly Simpson

Cairo is healthy, diverse, opinionated and educated.

Go visit Diwan Bookstore, enjoy their excellent selection of books and discover a new world of thinking over a cup of tea in their cafe.

Diwan Bookstore is on Facebook. Join them and read their latest news and special events.

–msg

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