After about 6 or 7 years my mom, my sister and I decided to go to the annual book fair. As I had previously mentioned I love buying books, about as much as reading them if not more. That’s why the book fair was the perfect occasion to practice this hobby. The book fair was canceled last year because of the revolution, which frustrated many publishers and dedicated visitors of the annual event. Therefore when the fair took place as scheduled this year, I was determined to attend. It’s been years since I had last attended the fair, and it’s safe to say that it hasn’t changed much since I was last there.
I remember there were buildings that contained the halls where the publishers displayed the book; those were all however torn down and replaced with tents, God knows why. When we arrived it was early, the fair had just opened and it was quite empty. We felt bad that the once busy fair was almost entirely empty, especially after we heard from a couple of the vendors that that had been the case for the last couple of days. Fortunately and unfortunately that didn’t last long, by noon the fair was flooded with book-lovers and prospective buyers. That returned the familiarity to the event and with it a sense of nostalgia. What hadn’t changed however, was the fact that the amount dust and dirt all over the place was equal, if not more than, the amount of books.
The first tent we entered was that of one of the biggest publishing houses in the country, Dar El Shorouk, where the books were well-organized, labeled and wrapped in plastic; like any ordinary book store. We walked from tent to tent, which were fairly similar until we reached “Sour El Azbakiya”. An enormous area which contained boat-loads of used books and magazines, of all kinds; that’s prices are in single digits. For me that place was a revelation and being in it was an incredible experience. The place was filthy, so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with asthma or allergies, but it’s probably the only place in the country where you can buy all sorts of books in the lowest prices imaginable. We spent the most part of our trip moving from booth to booth in that particular area, and came out with more books than we can carry. We also bought three Arabic novels, that God only knows if I’ll actually read or not. But, both my sister and I agreed that it’s about time we start reading some Arabic literature.
Even though the dirt was annoying and made me wonder why they never bother cleaning the place and taking care of it, in the end of the day I had more books than time to read them in, magazines and an excruciating neck-ache from carrying all those books. But overall, it was totally worth it.