There was a time when I could barely restrain myself and stop the words from flowing onto the pages. I kept diaries, carried notebooks, random scraps of paper filled with passing thoughts. These dribbles littered my desk drawers, the hidden compartments in my car, the spaces between the bed and the wall beside me. I was possessed of this enormous and overpowering need to record, annotate, note. It was delectable. I had opinions; I could express them. I had emotions and they gutted me, spewing forth sometimes in quite disgusting prose.
On one level I always imagined that I would become a writer – although this isn’t true, I was a writer and I simply thought that there would be a day when I would be recognized as such.
The switch that controlled the flow of this passion was turned off some years ago, drowned in the mire of childbirth, child rearing and a tendency toward anxiety.
I couldn’t even pick up a pen. The light was extinguished. I had nothing to say.
To this day I don’t think that I can properly explain this, I don’t think that I understand it myself. I have never stopped loving the written word, I simply stopped being able to write.
Some people might say that I am clearly addicted to books in the same way that others are addicted to food, drugs, alcohol, sex. I don’t think that I could argue with this … My favorite pastime is books. I love nothing more than visiting a big library (or a small one) and just cruising through the stacks, touching spines of long forgotten titles.
My first stop in a new city is the local bookstores. I visit as many as I can. I breathe in the air of these places, indulge in the reading habits of other cultures and enjoy the faces of those who peruse alongside me.
In Jerusalem it was ‘sefer ve sefel’, in New York it was the awe-inspiring ‘Strand Books’, in London it was pretty much anywhere on Charing Cross Road.
I have visited bookstores at university campuses, bookstores in airports, bookstores that are nothing more than holes in the wall and those that stretch for miles – literally. How easy it is to lose oneself in the words of others.
And such an indulgence. How do we possibly quantify the number of people in the word for whom words are impossible to reach? Levels of literacy in developing countries are so low. So, I read for those people too, read for the impoverished, the illiterate and the “simply too busy”. And I love every minute. This part of my life is an open book.
And slowly, the writing is returning. Shway shway as they say in Arabic – slowly slowly. Sounds like the swish of 18th century women’s skirts. Shway shway. Shway shway. The words slowly swish, like soup in my mind.
So, grab a spoon and join me in savoring this soup!
MUST READ BOOKS
To The End of the Land
Dream of Ding Village
Beatrice and Virgil
A Short History of Women
My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness
The Museum of Innocence
A Gate at the Stairs
- The Sunflower, Simon Wiesenthal wp.me/pJ6GP-qr 2 days ago
- Tears of the Desert, Halima Bashir wp.me/pJ6GP-pV 2 days ago
- Letters from the Lost: A Memoir of Discovery, Helen Waldstein wp.me/pJ6GP-qg 2 days ago
- Dream of Ding Village, Yan Lianke wp.me/pJ6GP-pl 2 weeks ago
- Half Blood Blues, Esi Edugyan wp.me/pJ6GP-p1 3 weeks ago
- The Mark on the Wall, Virginia Woolf
- Burned Alive: A Victim of the Law of Men, Souad
- The Sunflower, Simon Wiesenthal
- The Bridge Of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder
- Perfect Match, Jodi Picoult
- The Thing Around Your Neck, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
- Blindness, Jose Saramago
- Thinks, David Lodge
- A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
- Half Blood Blues, Esi Edugyan