My heart leapt with excitement as I strolled around the stalls at Sharjah International Book Fair last weekend: seeing so many bookworms made me realise I wasn’t alone in my frenzied love of literature.
There were stacked books everywhere, and I knew that somewhere there was a book that would be perfect to read on a tropical beach rather than just on the couch. Prior to book hunting, I vowed not to judge books by their covers, and here are my top five Arabic language finds …
‘Death Rituals’ by Obaid Bumelha
In his satirical comedy, Bumelha changes the way we perceive death and introduces a new philosophy of life through two main characters, the novelist and the protagonist, who constantly bicker in their journey to produce a novel with a high readership. There's more to their blazing rows than meets the eye. "If we don't understand death, we won't understand life", Bumelha said during the book signing. I admire the author's wit, and the story's finale is a bolt from the blue that will make you freeze and flip back to page one.
‘My Journey to the World of Restaurants’ by Dr Habib Al Mulla
Besides having amassed more than 33 years of experience in UAE law, and being the CEO of Baker & McKenzie International, Dr Al Mulla also has an unrivalled passion for food, and he travels around the world to experience restaurants. In his book, he explains the evolution of food, starting back at the time of the Pharaohs. Prior to reading Dr Al Mulla's book, food was merely an experience of taste for me, but I now see that it involves all my senses – from colour to touch, and smell to drizzles and sizzles.
‘I Will Rule the World’ by Captain Fareed Lafta
The title of the book took me aback, I must confess, as ruling the world is beyond my wildest dreams and is certainly inconceivable to most down-to-earth people. However, Captain Lafta, the thrill adventurer and holder of eight Guinness World Records, inspired me to fulfil my dreams after I read this book. His slogan “I dream therefore I am living” is contagious, and that sense fills you when you read these pages.
‘When I met God in Jumeirah’ by Ilham Abdulrahman
Jumeirah was the place this author experienced a spiritual awakening: when all medical attempts failed to cure her distraught state, Ilham found solace in the mosques on Jumeirah Road, and this is the story of that journey. During the book signing, I saw no signs of despair and sadness in the author's eyes, instead a serenity and stillness and an urge to spread this word to the world: "One need not book an appointment with God, He is everywhere," she said.
‘Happiness and Optimism in Arabic Poetry’ by Dr Loay Badran
Dr Badran, Professor of Arabic Language and Media at Zayed University, has compiled verses by poets of the pre-Islamic era and those of modern times, all focused on happiness and optimism. While some people find happiness in love, the workplace or in travel, poets seek it in immortality, dreams and imagination. Aristotle enshrines happiness as a central purpose of human existence and a goal in itself.
Sharjah Book Fair runs until November 10 at Sharjah Expo Centre. It’s open from 9am to 10pm, and from 4pm to 11pm on Friday. Admission is free