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Saturday, March 18, 2006

of things - when is it exactly?


When I reached the 900th page of my 1200 paged book, just when the climax started building, I realized that the last page spells a beautiful, shining "To be continued..." Man! After 1200 pages, what more do you want to say?

Don't get this wrong, I absolutely love big books, because seriously, who wants a good book to finish? But a big book becomes terribly annoying when you've been reading it for quite some time only to realize that you will never get to finish it because the continuation is fantastically unavailable in the hills and valleys of Amman. Frustrating!

Frustrating enough to have me spend an entire evening fishing in the few bookstores in Amman stocked with English books for "Anne Rice".

"The Good Book Shop" in Jabal Amman.
I've been wanting to visit "The Good Book Shop" in Jabal Amman for a while as they renovated recently. From the outside, you see past the glasspanes to the absolutely inviting interior with the cozy wooden floors and beige walls covered with rows and rows of books. Once inside though, as much as their design is cozy, I found that their content is really disappointing. 80% of their books are academic, and by academic I mean those used for the IGSCE and IB systems, 10% are religious scriptures, and the other 10% are nothing I would personally acquire. I know I will never visit it again.

"Titles" in Abdoun. A bookstore that I prefer a lot more is "Titles", one of Amman's best hidden secrets. I've never left Titles empty handed, even when I don't go with the intention of buying anything. Their book section is quite small in comparision to other bookstores around, but it's always fresh and full of good new content that I hit it before any of the bigger stores. Titles didn't have the book I was looking for, but with their fantastic collection I left with 4 books that I totally wasn't considering buying that day. As an added bonus, their sales guy is cute- very punky.

"Prime Megastore" in Mecca Mall. Ahhh, Prime. I absolutely adore this place although I don't get to visit it as often as I'd like because its unstrategically placed in one of my least favorite places in Amman- Mecca Mall. Their collection of art, photography, architecture and design books is absolutely fantastic- always changing, always brand new, always fresh (and overpriced), and always tantalizingly appealing to me. I don't think I ever feel as much shopping instincts anywhere as much as I do in Prime.
Their novel collection is also wonderful, and I love how they concentrate on books written by Arabs such as the works of Edward Said, Laila Lalami, and Amin Malouf. They didn't have the book I was looking for, but I've never left Prime disappointed. In fact, I love it there so much that my friends and family absolutely refuse to accompany me to it because I have to be dragged out.
Ahh... I do wish they'd open somewhere other than the mall. Some stand alone unit perhaps?

"Books@Cafe" in Jabal Amman. I like Books@Cafe, it's not as diverse as Prime nor is it as comfortable as Titles, but it's a quite nice book buying experience anyway, and they have a good collection of books. They also have a very cheap used books section, which is usually filled with junk rather than anything else but which I think is a fantastic idea anyway.

"Aramex Media Bookshops" sprawled all over Amman. I like Aramex's attempts to spread book supplies all over Amman. They have a branch in almost every single supermarket and in all the areas in Amman, even Jordan University. They only get recent bestselling novels, which is cool I guess, although that's not the reading I do. They also have the ordering off the internet service, where you can buy any book with the ratio of $1= 1.3 JD. I've never used that service, but my brothers get all their shoes from there, and so far, so good.

The other bookstores around but which I've never bought anything from due to limited, mostly old, and overpriced collections and/or horrible book organizing are "The University Bookshop", "Istiklal Bookshop", and "The Oxford Bookshop". I've never left any of those places with a book.

At the end of the day, I didn't find the book I was looking for anywhere, although I ended up with four books, all from Titles, and my brother Hisham bought 2 books, also from Titles.

The loot:
  • "Atlast Shrugged" by Ayn Rand: The first book I started reading, so far, so good.
  • "Banat Al-Riyadh" by Rajaa Il Sane': I'm really excited about reading this book! It's set in Riyadh, the city where I was a "bint". I read the first few pages, and I love the way it's written and the issues it's tackling.
  • "1984" by George Orwell: Of course I've read this book before, but I thought that it was worth owning.
  • "A Million Little Pieces" by James Frey (gorgeous cover)
  • "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand
  • "The Accidental" by Ali Smith: I've never heard of this book or of Ali Smith, but the book's cubist cover that's oh, so, DuChamp and its experimental opening chapter didn't allow me to think twice about buying it. And yes, I do judge a book by its cover.

From the back flap:
"I was born in the year of the supersonice, the era of the multistorey multivitamin multitonic, the highrise time of men with the technology and the women who could be bionic, when jump-jets were Harrier, when QE2 was Cunard, when thirty-eight feet tall the Princess Margaret stood stately in her hoverpad, the annee erotique was only thirty aircushioned minutes away and everything went at twice the speed of sound. I opened my eyes. It was all in colour. It didn't look like Kansas anymore. The students were on the barricades, the mode was maxi, the Beatles were transcendental, they opened a shop. It was Britian. It was great."

Man!!! That's gorgeous, isn't it? I'm so amused at the fact that that paragraph isn't making much sense to me and how I am going to have to look up several words in it! Yay! I'm so excited about reading it!

Here's it's fantastic cover:

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