Monthly Archives: October 2013

6 Bad reading habits and how to improve your reading skills?



There are different types of readers, ones who read because reading has became a habit and a joy for them, others read because they are told to or they have to and others who try and aim at making reading a habit but fail because of bad reading habits. Today we will discuss bad reading habits and how to improve your reading skills.

Bad Reading Habits:

1-  To start reading a book while feeling that you have to read it, or there is a force pushing you to read this book. One must read because of the love of reading, to open a new start, to lavish yourself with the events of a romantic classic, not because you have to read.

2- Having no or poor sense of music, characters, events, sentences and imagination. Reading is not just looking at the words with your eyes and processing the sentences with your brain. Reading is feeling, you have to feel the book you read. You have to imagine the events, the place, the time. the season, the characters, what they’re wearing what they’re feeling. How is the atmosphere between the hero and his lover, you have to be able to hear the music without actually hearing it with ears. Reading is joy, you have to enjoy reading and build a fantasy of what the novel, characters, events would be in real life.

3-Having distractions! Don’t read while you’re with people who you enjoy their company. Simply because you’ll be distracted, you wouldn’t be able to focus on either your friends or your book. You have to put your full attention and commitment in the book you’re reading.

4-Taking on too many books at once is for sure a persons worst reading mistake. Because you’ll end up leaving half of these books unfinished with the overlap of the events of these books.

5-Reading the last page first. Been there, done that!
This used to be a bad reading habit of mine. You notice a book that interests and triggers you to read, but instead of opening the book and reading the first page you read the last page. This completely ruins your book! It’s like cheating on suspense!

6-Finally, as for me the worst habit would be watching the movie adaptation of the book you intend to read before you actually read the book. This is my worst nightmare! Don’t you EVER watch a movie based on a book before reading the book. Because the movie will destroy, ruin and kill the book. The book is ALWAYS better than the movie, the movie can never keep up with the book.  Moreover, the book is more beautiful than the movie, it gives you so much details, it makes you draw the events with your imagination and it answer questions the movie does not answer and books have more depth in them than movie adaptations.

How to improve your reading skills:

1-Keep yourself interested in reading. Read the ingredients list, the shampoo bottle, the warnings on a medicine prescription, this way you’ll find time to practice reading and  not giving up on it.

2-Find time to visit your local library or bookstore. This will always stimulate you to read more and gives you an edge of excitement.

3-Participate in book clubs, books websites such as Goodreads, discuss  a book you want to read with others which will make your book experience a lot better.  

4-Look at book reviews online, in magazines or newspapers.

5-After finishing a book reward yourself.

Reading is fun, it gives you a whole new perspective, and sometimes it solaces you. Enjoy books, because books are our best friends. Push yourself to read more and encourage yourself to be an intellectual part of society. Because that’s what you deserve to be.



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Romanticizing Revolution: Mahmoud Darwish’s “Think of Others”


Think of Others

As you fix your breakfast, think of others.
Don’t forget to feed the pigeons.
As you fight in your wars, think of others. Don’t forget those who desperately demand peace.
As you pay your water bill, think of others who drink the clouds’ rain.
As you return home, your home, think of others.Don’t forget those who live in tents.
As you sleep and count planets, think of others.There are people without any shelter to sleep.
As you express yourself using all metaphorical expressions, think of others who lost their rights to speak.
As you think of others who are distant, think of yourself and say ‘I wish I was a candle to fade away the darkness
-Mahmoud Darwish
Mahmoud Darwish is a national political provocative poet who writes to abet Palestinian and Arab society for defiance, rage and revolution. Mahmoud Darwish writes against injustice, occupation and colonialism. But his latest collection of poems where anything but political revolutionary.
As a reader. one can conclude several reasons for this change in themes. For a start, a writer  is a sentimental human being who translates his feelings, emotions, conscience and interpretations into writings; whether they were poems, short stories, novels, lyrics or any other form of writing. A writer writes for himself, for his soul and his own pleasure and self expression, not for the sake of others. But the question is: If Mahmoud Darwish wrote that collection for himself, why did he publish it knowing the massive controversy it will cause?
Mahmoud darwish was known as a revolutionary poet, people never knew him as a romantic, sentimental poet. The last collection of poems suggested that Darwish is not a one theme poet, but a poet who satisfies many tastes. In his poem Think of Others Darwish seems a more spiritual poet, not only a revolutionary fighter who uses his writings as a weapon.
Feedback about the poem:
After the release of Darwish’s latest collection of poems, many critics fought Darwish accusing him with treason, defeat and failure. When Darwish stepped aside from revolutionary writing, some people did not accept that. People needed Darwish as a rebellious torch only and did not think of his own needs. Darwish was thought of as a messenger for the Palestinian cause regardless of his own personal causes. People thought that it was Darwish’s duty to deliver the Palestinian struggle, while erasing his own.
Darwish and intimacy: 
When Darwish wrote Think of Others he was stating a claim, especially during his last years. After 2004, Darwish’s interest and writing varied from revolutionary to sentimental. After the separation through the Palestinian community, Fatah, Hamas and others, Darwish was disappointed with the Palestinian community. Which made him suspect his reasons for being a torch in the occupations face while his own society is splitting and killing its own people. That reason was enough for Darwish to turn to himself and his own needs. Darwish aimed to write about the disadvantaged, the powerless, the poor and the less fortunate. Darwish was more on the humanitarian level. He wrote about the poor, women, intimate issues and man-woman relations. Darwish wrote about the soul, Darwish romanticized Palestinian Contemporary poetry. Darwish gave the Palestinian revolution a soul, a spirit and an intimacy that only Mahmoud Darwish can give.


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Poem: “Dear eternity, I want a truce of love” by Ghada Al-Samman

A must share!

My Books' Journal

A poem by Ghada Al-Samman.

Ghada Al-Samman (غادة السمّان‎) is a Syrian writer, journalist and novelist born in Damascus. Due to the severe Syrian humanitarian crises, it occured to me to translate some of her poems. I’m not a translator (and I don’t know if these poems have been translated previously) but I did my best to preserve the meanings and the feelings of the poems.


Dear eternity, I want a truce of love ..
I was born in war And  perhaps the nozzle of a cannon shot me.
In adolescence I was grabbed by a war ,
My youth was  baptized in the Lebanese war , and in  love stories.
My whole life is full of wars with live ammunition from my blood –
And on  the rhythm of my crazy heart, wandering between the shelter and the first line of fire ..
And when the heart front subsides, the homeland front bursts  ..
Dear eternity…

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A book review: Children of our Alley, Najeb Mahfouz and the Egyptian Uprising



Children from our Alley is a novel by the noble prize winning author Najib Mahfouz. Its one of Mahfouz’s most famous novels that triggered a wide spread controversy across the Arab world and its the novel that nearly got Mahfouz killed by The Muslim Brotherhood.

Novels Details:

  • Author: Najib Mahfouz.
  • Publishing date: 1981
  • Original Language: Arabic.
  • Genre: Fiction.
  • Characters and there symbols:

Jablawi: God.

Qendil: Gabriel

Adham: Adam

Idris: Satan

Qadri and Hamam: Cain and Abel

Jabal: Moses

Refaa’: Jesus

Qasim: Mohammad

Briefly about the novel:

Children of our Alley is a realistic symbolic novel, the events revolve in one of Cairo’s alleys. The novel starts with the greatest and most powerful character Jablwai and his children, more specifically the birth of his son Adham. Jablawi preferred his son Adham on the expense of the others; that led to the rebellion of his other son Idris and  his expulsion from Jablawi’s paradise. 

Moreover, Idris succeeds in seducing his brother Adham and the journey of Human and Satan begins as been narrated by the divine books. Qadri and Hamam (Cain and Abel) sons of Adham fight, one of them kills the other and there’s the emergance of his three other sons Jabal, Refaa’ and Qasim (Moses, Jesus and Mohamad).

Feedback on the novel: 

The novel had its share of rejection and banning by Muslim and Arab countries because of Najib Mahfouz courage to write a novel influenced by the divine books :Quran. Bible and the Old testament. Moreover, critics were furious by Mahfouz’s symbols and his representation of God and messengers in a rebellious interpretation.

Children of our Alley and the Arab Spring:

The entire novel revolves around the initial action by Jablawi to kick Adham out of the big house and then his subsequent withdrawal from the scene to this house that can be seen in the distance but is generally unobtainable to the characters of the novel. The three characters of Adham, Jabal, and Qassem all try to deal with the poverty and oppression of the Alley in the context of this key separation between the patriarch and his subjects. All three fail and are succeeded by the science of Arafa. Arafa refuses to work within the framework of Jablawi and eventually destroys him. It seems as if he has removed the oppressor from the story but Arafa too fails to achieve peace and prosperity for the Alley.

This metanarrative of the novel has a strong resonance today after we have witnessed the Egyptian uprising of 2011 and the ousting of former president Mubarak( which resembels the “omnipotent” Jablawi) from power. Mubarak, too, was believed to be untouchable. His nearly forty year reign in Egypt was one of complete control and patriarchal power. In 2011, protesters sought to change the framework in which Egyptians dealt with government and society. Mubarak left and a vacuum of power was left in Egypt. Najuib Mahfouz can be considered quite prophetic if we take Chlidren of our Alley as a larger story of humankind. He outlined in the
novel the various ways that the oppressed have sought to become free. One of these ways is to oust the patriarchal power, Jablawi, in favor of the modern solution of science. Just as Egyptians in 2011 sought to remove Mubarak in favor of the modern solution of democracy. However, just as the Alley in  fell into chaos after the death of Jablawi, Egypt has struggled with the transition to democracy.
Many oppressive and undemocratic parts are existing in the wake of the revolution. Najuib Mahfouz can therefore be considered very prophetic in regards to the Arab Awakening. He injects in the novel, however, a degree of optimism that can sometimes be lacking in today’s discourse of postrevolution societies. In his final paragraph, Mahfouz includes a generalization about the nature of the world, “Injustice must have an end, and the night must have light”.


Although Najuib Mahfouz sets up the novel as an allegory for religious history, he is much more interested  in human  behavior. Jablbawi is originally described to mirror the God of the Quran. His words, proximity to other characters, and actions set him up as the symbol of God. However, as the novel progresses, the reader sees more of Jablawi’s indifference, isolation, and unholy characteristics.
Finally, in the last story, people of the Alley question him outright and he eventually dies. I believe that Mahfouz is more interested in Jabblawi as a patriarchal absolute power rather than as a deity. In this way, the novel has an interesting connection to the 2011 Egyptian uprising in that it almost predicts it. It predicts not only the uprising against patriarchal power but also the vacuum that is left behind afterwards. Mahfouz seems to say that there are many types of oppression in the history of human
experience. The three Abrahamic religions are attempts to achieve freedom within the framework of religious history especially the original separation from God. Modernity attempts to work outside of the framework but includes its own set of oppressors and deities.

Yara x,





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Book Review: The Catcher in the Rye

Novel Details:

The Catcher in the Rye is a 1951 novel by J. D. Salinger. Originally published for adults, it has since become popular with adolescent readers for its themes of teenage angst and alienation.

  • Yara
  • Published: July 16, 1951.
    Author: J. D. Salinger.
    Original Language: English.
    Characters: Holden Caulfield, Stradlater, Mr Antolini, Mr. Spencer, Jane Gallagher, Phoebe Caulfield, Sally Hayes, Sunny, Allie, Maurice.
    Genres: Fiction, Bilingualism, Novel, First-person narrative.
    The catcher in the Rye is an unusual novel. It’s an exciting and compelling read with tons of merciless reality in a sarcastic point of view that contradicts with moments of depression. The themes presented in this book are highly related to teenagers of all time and being written in 1951 does not change that. The reader finds himself completely provoked, intrigued and getting inside the head of the protagonist.
    The Story:
    The book begins with Holden a sixteen years old adolescent addressing the reader directly, and starts to narrate the three day event of him being kicked out of Pencey Prep, a prestigious boarding school filled with “phonies”, as Holden calls them. But what compels you the most about the book is it’s language; the author uses a New York edgy slang.
    After being expelled from school Holden decides to go to a cheap Hotel and  wait until the end of semester. Holden seems to be a provocative, naive, annoying and rebellious character, but as the book progresses you start to know the true Holden, the fragile and troubled persona and psych start to reveal in the coldness of the big empty city of New York.
    J.D. Salinger’s novel is a wake-up call to all teenagers, it’s an inspiring novel because  it sends out the message that we should all remain hopeful and true to ourselves. Teenagers can relate to it because of its complex themes of rebellion, identity and independence.
    This novel is one of the United States literary master pieces. This book has been banned and challenged for many reasons, but it remains an amazing book that picture the rebellious, outrageous teenage life. Some would describe Holden as a cynical irresponsible teenager, but the truth is Holden is an innocent, lonely, sad, desperate, compassionate and a cynical adolescent who tries to cope with his cynical world.
    Why this book?
    This novel has remained until now one of the most important and significant teenage novels because it has an extraordinary edge of emotional and severe power that recognizable by teens. This is one of the books that every teen MUST read.
     READ  it before you’re an adult otherwise you may have the urge to slap Holden for his actions when reading the book! If you didn’t get the chance to read it as a teenager, there is still time, don’t worry READ it now!
    Yara x


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Poem of the day

A Dangerous Recipe

To love him

is something

I hold highly suspicious,

Like having something

so very delicious,

then being told

to do the dishes.

Lang Leav.

Lang Leav is a contemporary female poet and the author of Love & Misadventure


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An insight through the Pessopmtimist, I saw Ramallah and Nazzal EL Sorour; the story of people

The Story of the people

Palestinians were divided into two halves: one who lived inside and one who were kicked or fled out. No matter how hard we try to describe the Palestinian people, we wont be able. Simple because it’s a pessoptimist people who lived a bitter and a tragic reality in a dark since of comedy.

The Pessoptimist by Emile Habibi describes the Palestinian reality. This is one of the most important and influential novels that have documented the history of Palestine in dark comedy and sarcasm. The Pessoptimist redefines your concept of a hero. Furthermore, its one of the greatest symbolic novels that helped the reader to know what happened during Al Nakba and before 1967 . One of The Pessoptimist’s greatest significance is the escape. The novel’s events revolves around its main character, its hero Saeed the pessoptimist. The word “Pessoptimist” is an adjective combined from two other adjectives; The Pessimist and the Optimist.  Saeed is a naive, coward comic persona. He came back to Palestine from Lebanon after Nakba to narrate his story under the rule of Israel.   At first, the story of Saeed may look as a personal and an individual story of a specific person, but then you conclude that its a symbol for a collective story; the story of the people.

The author’s choice of Saeed’s name was not accidental; but a well chosen name. Saeed’s name is not just a name, its the characteristic of all  Palestinians; the juxtaposition between pessimism and optimism indicates the personalities of Palestinians.  

I saw Ramallah by Mourid Barghouti is a Palestinian novel that describes the personal experience of the author. His big comeback from exile to his village Der Ghassana. I saw Ramallah documents the contemporary history of Palestine. It documents coming back from exile, on the other hand The Pessoptimist examined the old history; the Nakba. As mentioned before, one of The Pessoptimist’s great significance is the examination of escape; running away from home. But Mourid Barghouti narrates his novel and the history of Palestine through his personal experience and his bibliography. I saw Ramallah is not a political novel, but it does include some major life changing  political events through history. Some of the greatest things about this novel are the use of language and the writing style. Wherein, the author uses the Palestinian slang, which made the relationship between the author and the novel, the novel and the public more worthy. I saw Ramallah illustrates the physical relationship between the author and the land, the connection between them and how miserable is exile. In the novel, the author explains how much he hated buying olive oil when he was in exile, simply because if he was at home; in Der Ghassana, he wouldn’t have to buy olive oil; they made it from olive trees in the village. In I saw Ramallah, the reader can sense the divine relationship between the author and the land. Barghouti thought of Palestine as a holy icon. By contrast, his feelings were not like his reality. His reality was checking in and out of hotels, in this novel hotels are a symbol for an alarm clock. An alarm that always rings and reminds the author that this is not his home, this is not where he is supposed to be. As described in the novel “The hotel taught me not to hold on to place, it tamed me to not accept the idea of leaving ” (I saw Ramallah, P. 59).

I saw Ramallah fully examined Palestine through its land, cities, landscape and the author’s relationship to them. On the opposite side The Pessoptimist did not show that side of the Palestinian history, it focused more on the events of displacement, Nakba, escape and exile through an individual experience that represented the experience of all Palestinians; the story of the people, when he said” Others those are me” and when he said “I am the others I am peerless” (The Pessoptimist, P. 14). Through these quotes Emile Habibi deleted the line between individuality and collectivism, as if he’s saying “I am the people; I am Palestine” with the stripping of humanity. One of the things that makes you fall in love with The Pessoptimist is its sarcasm and symbolism. For instance, The Pessoptimist chooses the names of its characters with quite care. The names of the characters are symbols, they are not coincidental, for a start Saeed’s name is a symbol as discussed above, also the name of Saeed’s lover “Youad” which means the return. Wherein, Youad as its meaning keeps coming back through the novel. she keeps returning and does not leave Saeed alone. Youad is the love of Saeed, her constant showing and comebacks through the novel is a symbol for RETURN. The return of the Palestinian people, she was mentioned twice after Nakba and once after 1967 (Naksa: The Setback). Emile Habibi uses this point to give the Palestinians hope, the hope of returning to ones land. Another name the holds much significance is Bakya, which means staying, Bakya was Saed’s wife. Although her name implies that she is staying and she’s not going anywhere, her actual significance relies in her escape and leaving. This may be interpreted as the ones who faked holding on and said they wont leave are exactly the ones who left.  

The opening of  The Pessoptimist is quite controversial. As in, from the beginning Emile Habibi stated his opinion and his main claim to the people of Palestine through the poem of Samih Al Qasim “The Quran of death and Jasmine”. When the poet said “Write to yourselves the letters you crave”, Emile Habibi used this as his slogan. Emile Habibi preached the Palestinian people not to want anything from anyone, not to wait for anyone to free them or to rescue them. Habibi emphasized the work of the Palestinians themselves to their own freedom and their own rescue. He yelled through the poem “You rescue yourself, you revolt, you start your own revolution don’t wait for anyone to rescue you”. These indications from The Pessoptimist relate us to another hero, Zakarya from the political comic character in Ziad Al Rahbani’s play Nazzel EL Sorour. Zakarya is highly connected to Saeed, they are both comic sarcastic characters that illustrated the situation of their communities during civil war, injustice, or occupation. Both Saed and Zakarya were defeatist characters. Both of them were surrenders, they both suffered from a bitter reality but they both refused to change. They never did anything to change their fates because they were so afraid. They both suffered from injustice, occupation and civil war. Not only they were afraid of change, but when an outside force came for their rescue, to force them to revolt they manipulated  the situation so they don’t do the first steps. They did not have the guts to start, they got accustomed to fear.

Finally, it is hard to explain the story of the people but all the literature and art works that has been used in this article gave us a side of the story. they are faces to the same coin; The Palestinian People coin. They describe the same coin in either a comic, tragic, sarcastic or an individual way. We can only praise these works of arts and the msters behind them: Emile Habibi, Mourid Barghouti and Ziad Al Rahbani for giving us a closer look into our history, our reality, our society and the story of our people. 



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