A simple joy found in the pages of a book

Rohma Sadaqat /Dubai Filed on November 12, 2020

For many readers like myself, the Sharjah International Book Fair is a highly anticipated event where we can get our hands on the latest releases and beloved classics - Photo by M. Sajjad

Organised by the Sharjah Book Authority, SIBF 2020 is being held under the theme ‘The World Reads from Sharjah’.
(Photo by M. Sajjad)

I was interviewing an official recently on Zoom about the 'new normal' that has become our lives, when the topic of air travel came up, and we found ourselves deviating into what we carry in our hand luggage to keep us entertained on long flights.

I noted that I always made it a point to carry a book with me in my backpack, regardless of how long my flight was, or whether I was travelling alone or by myself. My companion book of choice is almost always something that will make me laugh - anything by Terry Pratchett usually does the trick - or a childhood favourite that is easy to get lost in. The official revealed that while he still carried a book on short-haul flights, anything over six hours called for his trusty Kindle. I was delighted to find another person who had the same habit as me and we got around to thinking if carrying a book on a flight was a dying habit. Most modern aircraft today have screens that you can watch hours of television or movies on during your flight.

"But, there is something special about carrying and reading a book on a flight isn't there?" the official said. "Feeling the paper between your fingers and turning pages over scrolling on a screen, yes?" I have to agree with him here. I told a colleague of mine about this conversation in the newsroom a day later, and she excitedly told me about her habit of always buying a book at the airport. "It's almost like a tradition! I feel like something is missing if I don't buy a book at the duty free." I had to agree with her too; I always buy the latest edition of the National Geographic magazine from the duty free and it is long devoured by the time the boarding call is made.

Thinking about the simple joy of carrying a book on a plane or spotting the iconic yellow cover of one of the world's most popular magazines really made me glad that this year's Sharjah International Book Fair wasn't cancelled or rescheduled. The world slowed down during the recent lockdowns and many people learned to love afternoons with nothing but a book and cup of tea for company. I had a considerable backlog of books that were waiting to be read on my book shelf, and all the months spent indoors finally gave me the time to start making a dent in it. The question that remained now was if I was going to get a chance to stock up again. For many readers like myself, who wait every year for the Sharjah International Book Fair to get our hands on the latest releases and add to our humble home libraries, the news that this year's edition was a hybrid one that was designed with all the proper safety protocols in mind, sent out a strong message. The world needed to read again, and what better place to learn to do so again than in Sharjah?


Rohma Sadaqat

I am a reporter and sub-editor on the Business desk at Khaleej Times. I mainly cover and write articles on the UAE's retail, hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors.Originally from Lahore, I have been living in the UAE for more than 20 years. I graduated with a BA in Mass Communication, with a concentration in Journalism, and a double minor in History and International Studies from the American University of Sharjah.If you see me out and about on assignment in Dubai, feel free to stop me, say hello, and we can chat about the latest kitten videos on YouTube.

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