Wonderland is supposed to be this fantasy Underland with peculiar characters and creatures.
Well, my Wonderland consisted of a fantasy I once drew in my head and that I suddenly saw painted in the real world. What’s that fantasy, you ask? Book kiosks, I answer.
Now lets backtrack a bit. My family and I decided that for the summer holidays this year around, we were to visit Egypt (yes, the place with the Pyramids and Pharaohs– cool place, people). The trip was rather busy and interesting; but being the bibliophile that I am, I set out to search for books there too. My first stop was this popular bookshop called Alf Bookstore (Alf is the first letter in the Arabic alphabet– don’t know what that has to do with books).
I went in and was glad to find a nook of good YA books as, apparently, the people there mostly just read Arabic books, so English stuff are rather scarce. Anyhow, the book that got my interest was The Martian. I’d heard good things about it and wanted to check it out; besides, it was the only book that I could get from there, really. Anyhow, I flip the book to check out the price, and God, it was for 160 Egyptian Pounds (13 point something pounds). In Egyptian standards, that’s not just high, it’s skyrocketing high. So my father advised that I let go of the book for now until I find another bookshop and compare prices.
Next stop: Shorouk Bookshop (Sunrise Bookshop. Weird names, I swear). Long story short, it’s the same scenario, with the same prices.
Now let me tell you, I was on the brink of giving up; thinking that I’d just get my books from the UK and that’s that. But nope. There was this glimmer of hope that shone through, known as Soor El-Azbakeya (Azbekeya Book Market; I don’t even know what to do with these names). What’s that, you ask? It’s a market, I answer. But for books, not veggies.
I don’t recall seeing anything like it before. It’s basically a street brimmed to every nook with books stands and kiosks and mini shops. Books everywhere. From the walls to the chairs to the grounds to, at some point, even rocks (they used it as tables, I think). To a book nerd like yours truly, this was fantasy coming true. My very own Wonderland.
But wait right there, it’s not heaven just yet. Why?
Because most of the books were bloody Arabic books! And the ones that weren’t academic books or classics, were books that I’ve already read *facepalm*.
At that point, I assure you, I was completely out of hope– especially so, considering the fact that I didn’t bring any books with me for the holidays, so I was a bit bummed about the whole ordeal. Standing there, basked under Egypt’s mighty sun (no wonder the Pharaohs were mostly half naked), you could say that any enthusiasm I had had just about evaporated.
But then I pass by it. It. The shop that not only answered my prayers, but also brightened up the rest of my holiday. It was called The Book Corner, I think (hard remembering everything in the heat).
I stroll in, brushing all the glossy covers under my fingertips, and skimming through the stands with my eyes. I saw books I’ve read, one’s I hadn’t, others I never even knew existed and all that was just too much for my bibliophilic self.
I ended up hoarding six books that I have wanted for quite a while but couldn’t make time for them:
-The Perks of being a Wallflower
-A Beautiful Wedding
-We Were Liars.
And.. guess the price of all 6?
160 Egyptian Pounds. -_-
Anyhow, that was my little bookish adventure over the summer. I’d want to wish all those who started school a great year (I’m homeschooled) and I know I’ve been incognito lately but that’s because we moved houses and I lost my phone and was rendered without Internet access for quite the while. I’m back now though and I’ve truly missed this place.
Lots of love,
Midnight Ranter (aka Ayaka)