Farah Aridi: What have you been reading lately?

Published on: January 30, 2012
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I sit in a café invaded by a construction site. I seek to write a critique. With the background noise pounding sticks and stones inside my head, scaring my fingers from off the keyboard each time they settle on a letter, I persevere for the sake of what I have to say. For it is of importance and weight that I could no longer keep on ignoring it. This is a way to entice you to read, to listen, to argue, to contradict, though I shall attempt to leave no room for you to do so.

During my weekly visits to one specific bookstore on Hamra Street, I notice that people actually read! Contrary to rumors, there is a large number of Lebanese people who still enjoy perusing bookshelves and devouring words. But there is something missing. Are we not reading enough?

It has always been easier to watch a movie, read a summary, or have someone tell us the story, that if we really needed to know what the book was about. But how many of us read just for the sake of reading, to satisfy our curiosity? How many read to satiate a thirst for the written word, to get inspired? How many read because it is a passion?

Recent statistics show that the average Arab reads quarter of a page per year, while the American 11 books and the English 7. They will reach page 100 while we are probably still on page 2.

But that is not the only problem. The demeaning and shameful level, in my opinion, of readership in the Arab region, is accompanied by the dwindling quality of published books. Young writers seem to focus more on asserting an angry and egocentric voice devoid of content, purpose, and style. Or they show interest in praising or bashing a recent work of art, but seem to do so without any critical analysis or objective judgment and evaluation which any work deserves. Reviews? Most reviews nowadays are nothing close to critical!  Yes, it is demeaning. What it specifically belittles is none other than our own intelligence.

Why is it so easy to be published in Lebanon? Is this a fact or an impression? Because if it is an impression, I would stand corrected. I want to stand corrected.

But I do not wish to generalize. I speak of literature, the narrative, and the novel. On the other hand, I do believe that the recent spur of blogposts these days and the quality of most statements made cannot go unnoticed or unaccredited. I close my post with a salute to their wonderful efforts.

Farah Aridi is a writer, blogger and LBCblogs contributor. You can read more of her work on her .

5 Comments add one

  1. Nisreen Al Moghraby Eid says:

    Avid readers end up to be critical thinkers and insightful writers… you are a great example Farah :) )) keep it up

  2. alaa abedalkhalek says:

    instead of reading books for like 2weeks, we can google informations and stay update about technology,business,leading companies of the world,etc…
    read books as hubby not as a way of education because you will be reading history.

    • Farah says:

      I was just checking my post and I could not but reply to you. I just have one thing to say, which is that your reliance on technology is reflected on your English. Point made I guess. And disregarding other mistakes, your last one seems very significant, it’s hobby not hubby (hubby is actually slang for husband). Cheers.

  3. Well, we are a group of Lebanese who love reading and made an online book club. We are reading, posting reviews, encouraging each other to read and encouraging people to send us their reviews :)

  4. Hanan says:

    A greater salute to you! Thanks for this lovely post :-)

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