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KHAWAGA'S TALE: Leafing through Cairo's bestsellers and book clubs - Daily News Egypt

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KHAWAGA'S TALE: Leafing through Cairo's bestsellers and book clubs

The summer holidays are almost upon us and the one thing we all need is a good book to read by the pool, at the beach or in my case at my rented gite in the French Pyrenees. The summer is the one period people find time to read. So I called into Diwan bookshop …


The summer holidays are almost upon us and the one thing we all need is a good book to read by the pool, at the beach or in my case at my rented gite in the French Pyrenees.

The summer is the one period people find time to read. So I called into Diwan bookshop in Zamalek to ask, “What was the bestseller over the last two weeks? And the most popular novel turned out to be the new Paulo Coelho paperback, “The Witch of Portobello.

Second on the Diwan list is Jodi Picoult’s, “Nineteen Minutes, followed by that infamous Brit, Jeffery Archer, which I am sure has a twist in the tale with, “Cat O’ Nine Tales.

Over the last decade, book clubs have become extremely popular. In fact, the book club is one of the main engines driving the sale of popular fiction.

Cairo resident Sophie Hart explains; “Reading can be a lonely, solitary hobby. So it is great to share thoughts and ideas about favorite books and get ideas for future reading.

The popularity of the book club was spread by Oprah Winfrey, on her popular American TV talk show, and other armchair entertainers like the British duo, Richard and Judy, have also picked up on people’s love of reading and a good chat.

Women’s magazines, such as Red, have a book club section and books now come with question guides to prompt analysis and get the conversation flowing.

Hart’s Cairo book club have read, “The Yacoubian Building, “The Song of Soloman, “The Cairo Trilogy, “The Kite Runner and “We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Some people just can’t wait for the beach.

I decided to do a book club search on Google and I came up with approximately 50 million listings. Now there was a Sydney country rock band called 50 Million Beers back in the 90s (but that is another tale) so I thought I may come up with more relevant and personal information if I just email 50 women friends around the world about the book clubs they belong to.

Three replies are all I got. Email has gotten a bit like that. The first reply was from Hart’s sister in London who said, “I did belong to a book club once, but decided I didn’t like people telling me what to read.

The other two messages came from women who work in publishing in New York City. Neither of them have any interest in book clubs. But New York women have good manners and they always answer their mail.

Over the past five years the Egyptian Supreme Council of Culture has translated some 1,000 titles into Arabic. Quite a feat. A new project based at the Cairo Opera House, the National Center for Translation, is looking for suggestions from the public to turn even more great stories into Arabic prose.

The National Center for Translation is looking for suggestions under five categories; novels and short stories, plays, children’s books and poetry. Any suggestions can be emailed to: [email protected]

Other titles walking out the door at Diwan include, Cecelia Ahern’s, “A Place Here, and Candice Bushnell’s latest chic lit, “Trading Up.

“The Devil Wears Prada is still doing a roaring trade and, for the boys, the author of Fight Club, Chuck Paluhniuk’s, has a new read titled, “Invisible Monster.

The world is full of budding authors and I am proud to say that I am one of them. To prove it, I have 10 rejection letters from UK agents for my novel about life in a UN refugee camp. I can see what you are thinking, doesn’t actually grab you, does it?

Once upon a time the technology industry tried to write the obituary for books, hailing the day when all literature would be on a hand held computer screen. Yeah right. The novel is the most portable and the best value for money there is.

Books travel and travel books are some of the best reads around. You never judge a book by its cover and the best books are often those left unread for years, maturing like a good bottle of wine, which goes well with a book. And those with a panache for used books would do well to check out the second hand book market at Ataba Square.

On that note I will sign off because it is almost time for the great Cairo exodus and I’ve booked my flight and packed my paperbacks for a summer of reading between the lines.

Topics: Gamma Islamiya

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