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“Half of what I say is meaningless,…

April 18, 2010

… but I say it so that the other half may reach you” Khalil Gibran, “Sand and Foam” 1926

Pile of books on bedside table

My bedside table

If you are a fan of reading, you might have a bedside table like mine i.e. with a towering pile of books.  They tend to fall into several categories; currently reading, book club read, next to read for book club, old favourites to reread, book I have been meaning to read for ages (the latter can stay there for several years).   Lonely Planet travel guides always have a suggested list of fiction relevant to the location and this got me into the habit of seeking something out before a trip.  Before I visited Libya I read In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar which gave me a great insight into life during the time of the revolution.  Unsurprisingly my current stack of books contains quite a few titles from the Levant.  The ‘old favourite to reread’ is The Rock of Tanios by Amin Maalouf.  Maalouf is an expert story-teller and this is a vivid tale set in the past, centred around the turbulent life of Tanios, a child of the mountains.   It’s an exciting, rich and compelling read but manages to explore the tribal rivalries of the post-colonial era and the impact of subsequent invasions and power-struggles in a witty and entertaining way.  My ‘book club read’ is The Hakawati by Rabih Alameddine which also uses myth and historical tales, interwoven with the story of a family before, during and after the civil war in Lebanon.  I’ve loved this book and feel I’ve  been a fly on the wall in Lebanese society.

The Prophet - Kahlil Gibran

The Prophet - Kahlil Gibran

I was compelled to buy something by Kahlil Gibran as we will visit a museum dedicated to him on the last day of our trek  (it’ll be interesting to see what state we’ll be in by then!).

The Prophet is a slim tome which I can easily slip into my back-pack.  The ‘blurb’ says that the book is ‘A wonderful companion for anybody embarking on their own spiritual journey.’  My attempt to trek 117km through the mountains of Lebanon will certainly be a physical journey but maybe reading from one of the best known philosophers of this area while taking in the scenery will inspire something deeper.  Is there anything else I should be reading?  I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments box.

  1. April 18, 2010 12:22 pm

    English Passengers by Matthew Kneale. A brilliant book about travel

  2. Anna permalink
    April 19, 2010 12:21 am

    I like the sound of ‘The Rock of Tanios’. Currently, I can’t put ‘Brick Lane’ down.

  3. Anna permalink
    April 19, 2010 12:22 am

    Helen Barham is still curious about what brand of no blister socks you use!

    • April 19, 2010 7:30 am

      I’m nearly ready to post something very detailed about kit. My socks are from Columbia (bought cheaply during shopping festival) – not sure if you get that store in the UK. Saw some very nice ones in Intersport too. I think they are as important as the boots.


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