A city with­out a book­shop

The Kurdish Globe - - LAST PAGE - Ruwayda Mustafah Rabar

A gen­er­a­tion of young men and women in this city have given prece­dence to lux­u­ri­ous brands of cloth­ing, equip­ment and cars, as op­posed to in­tel­lec­tu­ally equip­ping them­selves by read­ing a wide range of lit­er­a­ture. The fault is not theirs alone, we don’t have book­shops that sell in­ter­est­ing and ap­peal­ing lit­er­a­ture. In fact, in this city, we don’t have a sin­gle book­shop that sells best­sellers in English. In­stead, we have an ‘Ama­zon shop’ where a wide range of books, some of which are out­dated and ar­chaic, sold at a high price.

I can’t imag­ine how this city will pro­duce a gen­er­a­tion of in­tel­lec­tu­als, if it does not give them room to ac­tu­ally read. I visit cof­fee shops on a reg­u­lar ba­sis (be­ing a cof­fee drinker an’ all). I have yet to wit­ness a per­son ac­tu­ally read­ing a book while drink- ing cof­fee. The read­ing in cof­fee shops does not go fur­ther than what is writ­ten on the menu, and this is hardly sur­pris­ing. When we started our Er­bil Book Club, which sadly has four of­fi­cial mem­bers but hun­dreds of likes on Face­book (if that amounts to any­thing), the search for lit­er­a­ture was un­be­liev­ably tir­ing. I couldn’t find de­cent books, and of those that I did find, only one copy was avail­able, which meant the mem­bers of the book club would not have ac­cess to the book. The point here be­ing, this city is not short of ideas on how to gen­er­ate a cul­ture of read­ing, it is sim­ply short of peo­ple who are in­ter­ested in read­ing, writ­ing, and re­search­ing. More im­por­tantly, it is short of book­shops!

Some writ­ers are ex­tra­or­di­nary, the words they use paint an im­age in our minds, and cap­ti­vate our at­ten­tion. They en­able us to use our imag­i­na­tion, and help us es­cape our world. We en­ter an en­tirely dif­fer­ent world, where we are not the de­ci­sion mak­ers, but rather om­nipo­tent ob­servers, grad­u­ally find­ing out the de­tails. Some­times with the end of a book, our per­cep­tion of life changes rad­i­cally, and at times it could even al­ter how we live our life.

Not long ago I read the au­to­bi­og­ra­phy of Nel­son Man­dela. I still re­mem­ber the day I pur­chased it. I was in Lon­don, near Put­ney Sta­tion and my bus to Univer­sity was go­ing to take at least 10 min­utes. I de­cided to look around in WHSmith, and the book cap­ti­vated my at­ten­tion. While wait­ing at the bus stop, I started read­ing, and few pages into the book, I knew it would change my life for­ever. Nel­son Man­dela took his LLB Law ex­ams in prison, and he stud­ied for it in prison. This in­spired me deeply, and through­out my years at law school, he was an in­spi­ra­tional role model for me.

I feel sorry for the young peo­ple in this city. I wish the same books that were avail­able to me as a teenager and young adult be­came avail­able here. With a di­verse col­lec­tion of books that are in­ter­na­tional best­sellers, young peo­ple will find in­ter­est in a genre that ap­peals to them, but with­out this we will not reach a stage where we can gen­er­ate a cul­ture that pri­or­i­tizes be­ing in­tel­lec­tu­ally equipped as op­posed to ma­te­ri­al­ism.

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