books

Chapter 3: Egypt (The Traveling Biblio Chronicles)

Noha Badawi from @thebookishword is joining us today to recommend us a book based in Cairo, Egypt. I’ve known Noha through her bookstagram since more than a year and really love her Instagram for all this bookish and photography!

You can find Noha on her Social channels below

Instagram: @thebookishword

Website: www.thebookishword.wordpress.com

Goodreads: thebookishword

COB.jpgCity of Brass is a journey through my town; Cairo

Picking up City of Brass was one of the best decisions to do in 2018. It’s not easy to come across a novel about Egyptians, their mythologies and the history of Arabs. It warmed my history geek-heart, filled my Muslim heart with a starlight of happiness. This book was like I was immediately transported into the tales of Aladdin and the lamp, a journey through the Arabian Nightsand oh boy, it was so damn good.

On the streets of Cairo, during the 18th century, Nahri doesn’t believe in magic; ignoring the powers she obviously have. She’s a con woman with unequaled talents and she’s well aware that what she practices on the streets of Cairo to survive – palm readings, zars, and healings – are tricks, illusions and statement to the slight of her hands. In a zar, Nahri spoke the long lost language of her ancestors – whom she knows nothing of – and accidentally summoned an equally sly, dark and mysterious djinn warrior to her side. Not existent in her childhood memories of tales and stories anymore, Nahri has to accept the magical world. When the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass?

A city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound. In Daevabad, old resentments are simmering behind gilded brass walls with six gates – one for each djinn tribe. Entering this world, Nahri learns the true meaning of power, magic and all about this whole cunning world. But her powers and talents cannot yet shield her from the cruel politics of the court in Daevabad. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences. After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for. 

Adding voice to this #OwnVoices novel; a tale of a powerfully rich history and a world to mesmerize and marvel at, City of Brass is a novel to not be missed on. It’s an experience, a journey through the old cities to embark upon and never want to detour from.

Here’s my detailed review of City of Brass: City of Brass Full Review

This was Chapter 3 of the traveling biblio chornicles by Noha Badawi. You can buy the book here from book depository
This book travel series will continue next week when our next guest takes us on a a much needed journey to Palestine
If you liked this post, please consider subscribing here
Do consider sharing this with your friends who might like to read more from our hopefully growing diverse list over the next weeks and months.

Check out Chapter 1: Australia here

Check out Chapter 2: Afghanistan here

books

Chapter 2: Afghanistan (The Traveling Biblio Chronicles)

I have known Yeldah @beautiful.bibliophile for a couple of years now thanks to bookstagram and she was one of the first people I approached for this series. Yeldah originates from Afghanistan and she will take over today’s post. Afghanistan needs to be read about more and I’m so happy she is recommending a book based there on today’s guest post.

You can find Yeldah on her channels below

Website: www.yeldahyousfi.com

Instagram: @beautiful.bibliophile

Twitter: @yeldahyousfi

Pinterest: @yeldahyousfi

Snapchat: @b_bibliophile

Tumblr: @beautiful-bibliophile

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

“For you, a thousand times over.”

Hi there, it’s Yeldah! You might know me from Instagram as @beautiful.bibliophile or this may be your first hearing about me, which ever it is I’m glad to be writing this piece. I was very excited when Faroukh asked me if I would participate and write a guest post for his weekly blog segment: Traveling Biblio Chronicles.

As a daughter of immigrants from Afghanistan, but born and raised in Canada, I grew up surrounded with Persian/Afghani culture with a Canadian twist. When I was younger I hardly read anything by Afghan authors or books that were set in Afghanistan because there wasn’t much to read. Not having many diverse books growing up I decided to do some research of my own.

When I was 13 or 14, I picked up my first book written by Afghan author which was also set in Afghanistan – The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Immediately after starting it, I knew that this book would deeply affect me (aka make me cry like a child). I only read half the book then, but a couple years later I picked it up for my English class and this time I finished it.

Review:

The Kite Runner is a book that follows the life of an Afghani boy, from his childhood to adulthood. It tells the story of Amir, the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, and his struggles in dealing with real-world terrors such as the Afghan-Soviet War but also with private horrors that come to light as the book progresses.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

I found The Kite Runner to be such touching story, but it was hard to read at times since it dealt with some very real and dreadful Afghan history. It also deals with the topics of child neglect mental/physical abuse, violence in times of war and terrorism in an authentic and important manner. The characters are all relatable because they aren’t perfect and have flaws, even if they are not always likeable they will break your heart (you have been warned). But in my most honest opinion, there’s a kind of beauty and significance of this story that really touched me.

Hope you have the chance to pick this wonderful work of fiction up, I would highly recommend it to everyone!

What are some books that left you speechless?

IMG_20180605_181437.jpg

This was Chapter 2 of the traveling biblio chornicles by Yeldah Yousfi. You can buy the book here from book depository
This book travel series will continue next week when our next guest takes us on a magical journey to the land of the Pyramids!
If you liked this post, please consider subscribing here
Do consider sharing this with your friends who might like to read more from our hopefully growing diverse list over the next weeks and months.

Check out Chapter 1: Australia here

books, REVIEWS, Tips, Tricks and Tutorials

How The Forty Rules of Love taught me a lot about reviewing books.

This might become a post on how to review books, hang on tight!

A couple of years ago I started reviewing books on Instagram. I never did a full fledged detailed review. Mostly bite sized reviews that fit an Instagram caption which didn’t really have a set format.

img_1930

My primary goal was to review books without giving anything away. No spoilers, no reveals. Just purely what I felt about the pace, characters, plot and feel of the book. Enough to make the readers decide for themselves if they’d like to pick a book. This still has not changed.

Over time, I graduated to a simpler format for my reviews. I start with my thoughts on the book, writing, plot etc. and end with listing things I liked and things I didn’t really like. This seems to work best for me, I’ve had comments on ‘negative’ book reviews where readers have been intrigued by the book, despite the negative review.

I have no authority over literature of any kind and that’s another thing I’m careful about while writing a review – to make sure I don’t sound authoritative about a book, a genre or a subject.

In case you’re interested, my reviews are here

img_2217A few reviews after my first, I read a book which I really disliked and wouldn’t recommend to anyone I knew unless they like to read books on the subject. This was The forty rules of love by Elif Shafak. I will not get into why I didn’t like it, let’s just say I was in a pickle on how to write the review without sounding hateful.

So I tried, and I think I did a decent job in pushing forward my thoughts on the book. This was when I did not have many followers, probably somewhere around 1000 and the response was really good. I think the comments section had 100+ comments which was unthinkable for me at that level.

Funny thing was, a lot of people said they liked my ‘honest’ review. I didn’t think much of it but over time I found that some bookstagrammers (especially bigger ones) stay away from posting negative reviews because they want their pages to only have positive content (I respect that) but later I also found that a lot of people get hate over writing negative reviews from readers who love that negatively reviewed book. This can be really problematic for reviewers and in my view it’s best to stay away if you can’t handle online hate (it can be tough, trolls online sometimes forget there is a real person behind an account and they keep knocking for months and stalk every single word you post, it’s a serious problem)

Recently one of my friends who is white was bullied into deleting a review of a book written by a POC. Since their following is quite high, they deleted it because of fear of backlash from people. Unfortunate, but this is life I guess.

Fortunately I have a very thick skin and I can take a hit or two (trust me, I get hate in all shapes and forms mainly because I say what I feel and seldom sugar coat things)

Anyways, over time, I started receiving books from publishers. I remember I had received and didn’t like the first book sent by a major publishing house. I made sure I reviewed the book like I would review any other book and gave it 2 stars on goodreads. I know it can be daunting to stay honest, especially when you’re dealing with publishers and generally would hope to be on their reviewers list. Trust me, your negative review on a book will not effect your relationship with the publisher (and if it does, stay true to yourself and write what you feel). I have spoken to publishers about this as well, and for them reviews matter, they don’t want reviewers to just give positive reviews because of a free book. (And again, if they do, you’re better off staying away from such publishers)

Over the next months I reviewed a lot of other books I didn’t like and I think one positive effect this has had is my reviews are expected to be honest and straight forward whether it’s a book I’ve picked myself or a book sent by a major publishing house.

Another thing that I do is I do not DNF books. I’ve realized if I do not like a book and review it, it makes for great conversation and enhances my learning of literature. There is a possibility I missed out on some things while reading it and it gives me a chance to grow.

So that’s it, some of my thoughts on reviewing books, maybe they will help you in developing your own reviewing style. If you have tips to share, please leave in the comments below. We could use insights from everyone 🙂

If you liked this blog post, please subscribe here

If you are on Instagram, please consider subscribing to my Bookstagram I post daily bookish content and book reviews there.

Happy Reading!!

Faroukh

books

Chapter 1: Australia. The Traveling Biblio Chronicles.

Lucy from The Literary Edit was crowned The best book blogger by The London Book Fair. In the few weeks since, we have had numerous discussions about blogging and books. She is one of the reasons I decided to start my own blog and explore this medium of social media as well.

Lucy is here today to kick off The Traveling Biblio Chronicles with a recommendation from Australia. She’s living there since a couple of years and her regular beach walk updates on Instagram are really refreshing and have such an Australian vibe to them!

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Her social media channels:

Book Blog – The Literary Edit

Twitter – @thelitedit

Bookstagram – @the_litedit

BREATH2

Breath by Tim Winton

Given the fact that I’ve lived in Australia for over two and a half years now, albeit with a brief hiatus during which I lived in Bali, Los Angeles and London, I’ve read an embarrassingly small amount of Australian literature. I started off with fairly good intentions, reading Tracks and Picnic at Hanging Rock prior to my arrival in Sydney, followed by Peter Carey’s 30 Days in Sydney shortly after I landed. Yet in the many months that have since passed, the Australian writers I’ve read have been few and far between.

There are many, many things I love about Australia; its year round balmy weather, the endless stretches of sand, the coastal walks that are as stunning as they come. But the thing I love the most is the water, and the magic and healing power of the ocean.

And so when it comes to selecting a book to represent the country in which I live; the choice was an easy one: Breath by Tim Winton.

© Hannah Chanel

I bought the book long before I read it; and had a couple of other books by Tim Winton on my shelves, and yet it was only when the film adaptation was recently released that I finally got around to reading it. I live 100 meters from the water’s edge in Bondi, and get in it as often as I can, and Tim Winton’s much lauded novel is a love letter to the sun baked skin and salt washed hair so synonymous with life down under.

BREATH1
© crazybooklady_

At its core, Breath is a story about two boys and their love of surfing, but above and beyond that it’s a story about the Australian waterways, in all their glorious and menacing forms. Until I read Breath I was yet to read anything that could come near to conveying my love for the land down under, but Tim Winton managed to articulate my love for this country, with poignancy and with power.

I don’t know how long I’ll be in Sydney; whether it’s my forever home or not, but while one day my memories of this country may fade, the feeling of the saltwater of the sea on my skin – much like my first reading of Breath – will remain ingrained on my person always.

This was Chapter 1 of the traveling biblio chornicles by Lucy Pearson. You can buy the book here from book depository
This book travel series will continue next week when a very special guest is going to recommend us a book set in her native country, Afghanistan.
If you liked this post, please consider subscribing here
Do consider sharing this with your friends who might like to read more from our hopefully growing diverse list over the next weeks and months.

Uncategorized

Why representation never mattered to me.

Hold on tight to your phones. And hear me out.

I need to add a disclaimer that this is my personal experience and I am not advocating against representation of race or nationality in books.

I read Danny the champion of the world late last year which is my favorite book from childhood. I related to the relationship between Danny and his father. Not that we went out on poaching trips or that our life situation was in any way near that of Danny’s. What made me relate to Danny so much was the relationship with his father. How his father cared for Danny and how Danny always looked up to his father. It was this relationship dynamic that made me realize as a kid how much my father meant to me. It wasn’t the color of Danny’s (or my) skin that connected us, it was the emotion.

More recently I read Matilda and I reviewed it on my Bookstagram. A number of people commented how much they loved Matilda and how it became the reason for them to become readers as early as 8 years of age. This got me thinking again how readers of different nationalities were inspired by and even related to Matilda and her reading habits. (Except ofcourse the magical bits and reading Hemingway as a 4 year old)

So what was it about Matilda that connected with so many readers? It was the relatability. It wasn’t the color of her skin.

So why did this unfiltered nature of us young readers change in recent years? Why have we become so inclined and almost desperate to get representation through race and color and culture?

As a kid I never read any book where the characters would pray 5 times (or even one time) I don’t recall a single book where the protagonist or even their friend was Muslim.

Sure, this might have taken away some additional experience from my life of being relatable to something as concrete as a character inked on paper. But did it really take away from my experience of life?

I really don’t think so. I never thought of my reading experiences in a counterproductive manner. Never cared that the Hardy boys and Nancy drew were white. I was more interested in the clues and the mystery!

With Asterix, Obelix and Tintin, it was always about the adventure and the hilarious situations! Never about their ethnicity.

I almost forgot the numerous volumes of Archie’s digest I read! I always related to the characters or even if I didn’t relate to them it was the emotion I related to. The way jughead would say something or the other that would make me laugh!

img_0699

It was the experience that connected me, not the race, not the freckles on Archie’s cheeks!

So forgive me if I roll my eyes when someone is excited about representation of brown people because Kunal Naiyyar plays Raj because I relate more to Leonard. Forgive me if I chuckle when you say Gal Gadot playing Wonder Woman is finally validation for young girls and she will enable them to do great things in life. And forgive me if I don’t think Black Panther is going to have a drastic effect on young black boys’ lives.

Lastly, I want to say, I do not need to be patronized to be able to do well with my life. I do not need the validation of characters in books and moving images representing a brown guy to aim high in life.

My existence is not related to it.

I am my own existence.

And nothing can take that away from me.

You do not need a hero that looks like you to be one.

If you liked this blog post, please subscribe here

If you are on Instagram, please consider subscribing to my Bookstagram I post daily bookish content and book reviews there.

Happy Reading!

Faroukh

books

Why I no longer recommend Murakami to readers.

My entry to Bookstagram was with the 1Q84 trilogy. Haruki Murakami holds a special place in my heart because he brought reading for pleasure back into my life.

It is not that the meaning cannot be explained. But there are certain meanings that are lost forever the moment they are explained in words.Haruki Murakami

img_2967 

In the beginning he was my go-to recommendation when people asked for reading recommendations but over time I realized that I’m blindly recommending a writer to anyone who seemed to have similar reading choices and also to those who seemed to be adventurous enough.

I’m going to attempt to explain what I feel about a few things you can expect in a Murakami. I’m using 1Q84 as the prime example as it’s my favorite book and it’s very much a typical Murakami.

Violence does not always take visible form, and not all wounds gush blood

Haruki Murakami

Open endings

Surely Murakami (or any other writer) is not for everyone but Murakami especially is not someone whose writing will be understood by everyone.

There will be open endings and for some who read (for example) 1Q84, the feeling of closure might feel very important after reading a trilogy worth 1400 pages. You would end up saying ‘Well, what was the point?’ My answer is pretty simple, most of Murakami’s books are about experiences. Something like not caring about the destination and enjoying the journey instead.

I faced a similar problem with Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Although it had an ending, I felt that Neil Gaiman used magic realism just to get away with the story in the end. It wasn’t Neil Gaiman’s writing or the story that didn’t connect, it was more to do with how I approached/experienced the book. I didn’t enjoy the journey so I was looking for at-least an ending that would make the journey worth it.

I dream. Sometimes I think that’s the only right thing to do.

Haruki Murakami

Atmosphere

I remember a passage in 1Q84 where Murakami goes on to say why cabbage should be kept in the fridge. What’s the point? There isn’t. Or is there? What is the point of anything anyway? Why does an author need to build a world when writing fantasy? Why does an author feel the need to tell us what color shirt a character is wearing? These are all tools to give an atmospheric feeling.

With Murakami, it’s in the details. What may seem random and pointless actually will play an important part in building the mood of the story which bring me to his signature of food scenes.

It’s good when food tastes good, it’s kind of like proof you’re alive.

Haruki Murakamiimg_4345

Food and flavor

People in general have curious habits and none come as close as food. I might forget a lot of details about my friends from college but I do remember a lot of their eating habits. Some of my friends would always want non vegetarian, others couldn’t stand it. Some would only drink coffee, and some were partial to tea. These are things that define a lot of our relationship dynamics. We eat thrice a day (or atleast two, I know a lot of us skip breakfast 😬) So to me, if you tell me about someone’s eating habits, a lot can be deciphered from it. I’m not saying that I’ll be able to tell what type of a person they are but it helps in understanding a little bit more about them. It’s something they do multiple times a day, every single day of their life. It makes sense to use food as tools to define characters.

I’m a very ordinary human being; I just happen to like reading books.

Haruki Murakamiimg_7692-1

Movement

One thing that might skip a lot of readers is that there is almost a constant feeling of movement in Murakami’s books. There is a regular change in setting. Characters walk around a lot. They meet other characters on the go. They sit a lot at cafes. This is something that keeps you engaged, these are things that keep the reader thinking. They enrich the whole story telling experience. Think about this in terms of a youtube Vlogger. When they keep moving around a city, it’s a constant rush. But if they are sitting at one place and talking straight to you, it’s a different experience. There’s nothing good or bad about either format, it’s just different. Murakami does the former expertly.

If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.

Life and soul

Last month we moved to a new apartment. It was just my wife and I. A few days ago, my sister had to go traveling so we brought Gatsby (our cat) home to take care of her. The whole mood of our place has changed. It’s like there’s more life (literally and figuratively) in our home now. The inclusion of cats in Murakami’s books are almost a given. And I feel that what this does is give additional life to the situation, adds another perspective. Is the cat absolutely necessary to the plot? You might think not. But it definitely sets up the mood and adds a dimension to the protagonist.

If you can love someone with your whole heart, even one person, then there’s salvation in life. Even if you can’t get together with that person.

Haruki Murakami

What’s on their minds?

I’ll try and wrap up with one of my favorite aspects of a Murakami novel. He goes deep down into the minds of the characters. Every little thought in his protagonist’s minds are laid out over the course of his books. You’ll find a lot of middle aged protagonists who are more or less loners. By the end you will feel like you know them inside out, you know their deepest fears and what will bring them happiness. This is very apparent in his much acclaimed book, Norwegian Wood. So even though you might feel the plot isn’t fast enough or haphazard in nature, there will be a feeling of progress when it comes to knowing his characters.

I guess this actually became a post on what you need to know before I recommend a Murakami!

If this intrigues you, go for one of the following:

1- A wild sheep chase

2- Men without women (short stories)

3- Norwegian wood.

I’ll end this with a quote that brings closure to this post:

If you can’t understand it without an explanation, you can’t understand it with an explanation.

Haruki Murakami

If you enjoyed reading this, please share with your Murakami loving friends!

Do subscribe for similar bookish content here

If you are on Instagram, please consider subscribing to my Bookstagram

Happy Reading!

Faroukh

books

The Traveling Biblio Chronicles. A guest blog series.

img_7408

When I started bookstagram, a major shift in my mindset and outlook towards life and people was that I wanted to learn more about different cultures and lifestyles.

In turn, being one of a handful of book bloggers from Saudi Arabia, people seemed even more interested in the culture here. This led to me taking a lot of book pictures around the city and sharing something or the other about the local culture.

With the traveling biblio chronicles I hope to bind together a reading list worthy of your time and capable enough to mess with your tbr (Like it isn’t already!)

The title of this series is inspired by The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa.

All my guests will be readers who’ve lived in a country long enough to be able to recommend a worthy representative of the place they live in or are originally from that country. While some might be country specific, others may even be city specific.

I’m hoping for this to be a weekly segment.

The Traveling Biblio Chronicles are now available as linked below:

I would love it if you could recommend a few book bloggers you’d love to see featured. You can leave a comment below, email me at theguywiththebook@gmail.com, DM me on Bookstagram or tweet at Twitter

If you’re interested in this list, do subscribe here

You can also follow me on my Bookstagram for daily bookish content!

Happy Reading!

Faroukh