Dubai Diaries: Happy Reading Month

March is celebrated as Reading Month here in the UAE, and it's a great excuse to buy more books!

by Enid Grace Parker

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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Published: Tue 15 Mar 2022, 9:20 AM

“I’m just going to Kinokuniya to browse…”

Even the most tight-fisted of book lovers may not be able to stay true to this oft-repeated declaration.

March is celebrated as Reading Month here in the UAE; while I am a great if sometimes erratic reader, I am also using this as an excuse to buy more books. There have been miraculous times in the past when I have walked out of bookshops without disturbing my wallet. But more often than not, I am tempted to pick up ‘something small’.

On good days (with regards to my financial wellbeing) this would amount to a bookmark or a piece of stationery, items which are sometimes necessary, sometimes not. On reckless days I exit a store with armfuls of bags and a blissful expression, happily lugging my literary treasures home in a long metro ride. Once at home, the thrill abates somewhat as I scratch my head hunting down space to store my new acquisitions.

Ever indulged in retail therapy? Most people go all out for clothes and accessories and shoes; I like to fill up my shopping basket with attractively jacketed books or colourful graphic novels and comics — an immensely satisfying experience that significantly improves my mood and completes my ‘therapy’ for the day.

If tsundoku (the art of buying books and never reading them) had a face, it would probably be me. To be fair, while it may take months (sometimes even years) for me to get around to it, I rarely leave a new book unread.

Any given opportunity to spend a couple of hours in a bookshop is one of the biggest joys of my life. Even though I may sometimes only glance at the title or cover of a book, the entire browsing experience transports me to a different world altogether. It’s often an indulgence, a pleasant way of passing the time, but it can also be a much-needed escape.

Libraries give me the same thrill that bookshops do — even though I get to keep a book for only a week or two rather than a lifetime. I love the fact that libraries hold books that have passed through hundreds of hands, avid readers over generations who are united in their love for losing themselves in great stories.

A question that often crosses my mind in any bookshop while taking in the piles and stacks of books on display, is, how many books are published every year all over the world? According to a report in Forbes, U.S. publishers sold 825.7 million print books in 2021 — a staggering figure.

At times I daydream about seeing my name up there on those shelves, by the hundreds, and imagine millions of readers being connected to me through my epic literary offering (which has been a work-in-progress for a couple of decades now).

There are days when the sight of so many books can also be overwhelming; you wonder how many you will be able to consume in your lifetime and how many more will be left untouched.

For now, however, I am content with the bagfuls I can take home. Happy Reading Month!

Enid Grace Parker

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