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.