A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

of things – when is it exactly?


When I reached the 900th page of my 1200 paged book, just when the climax started building, I realized that the last page spells a beautiful, shining “To be continued…” Man! After 1200 pages, what more do you want to say?

Don’t get this wrong, I absolutely love big books, because seriously, who wants a good book to finish? But a big book becomes terribly annoying when you’ve been reading it for quite some time only to realize that you will never get to finish it because the continuation is fantastically unavailable in the hills and valleys of Amman. Frustrating!

Frustrating enough to have me spend an entire evening fishing in the few bookstores in Amman stocked with English books for “Anne Rice”.

“The Good Book Shop” in Jabal Amman. I’ve been wanting to visit “The Good Book Shop” in Jabal Amman for a while as they renovated recently. From the outside, you see past the glasspanes to the absolutely inviting interior with the cozy wooden floors and beige walls covered with rows and rows of books. Once inside though, as much as their design is cozy, I found that their content is really disappointing. 80% of their books are academic, and by academic I mean those used for the IGSCE and IB systems, 10% are religious scriptures, and the other 10% are nothing I would personally acquire. I know I will never visit it again.

“Titles” in Abdoun. A bookstore that I prefer a lot more is “Titles”, one of Amman’s best hidden secrets. I’ve never left Titles empty handed, even when I don’t go with the intention of buying anything. Their book section is quite small in comparision to other bookstores around, but it’s always fresh and full of good new content that I hit it before any of the bigger stores. Titles didn’t have the book I was looking for, but with their fantastic collection I left with 4 books that I totally wasn’t considering buying that day. As an added bonus, their sales guy is cute- very punky.

“Prime Megastore” in Mecca Mall. Ahhh, Prime. I absolutely adore this place although I don’t get to visit it as often as I’d like because its unstrategically placed in one of my least favorite places in Amman- Mecca Mall. Their collection of art, photography, architecture and design books is absolutely fantastic- always changing, always brand new, always fresh (and overpriced), and always tantalizingly appealing to me. I don’t think I ever feel as much shopping instincts anywhere as much as I do in Prime.
Their novel collection is also wonderful, and I love how they concentrate on books written by Arabs such as the works of Edward Said, Laila Lalami, and Amin Malouf. They didn’t have the book I was looking for, but I’ve never left Prime disappointed. In fact, I love it there so much that my friends and family absolutely refuse to accompany me to it because I have to be dragged out.
Ahh… I do wish they’d open somewhere other than the mall. Some stand alone unit perhaps?

“Books@Cafe” in Jabal Amman. I like Books@Cafe, it’s not as diverse as Prime nor is it as comfortable as Titles, but it’s a quite nice book buying experience anyway, and they have a good collection of books. They also have a very cheap used books section, which is usually filled with junk rather than anything else but which I think is a fantastic idea anyway.

“Aramex Media Bookshops” sprawled all over Amman. I like Aramex’s attempts to spread book supplies all over Amman. They have a branch in almost every single supermarket and in all the areas in Amman, even Jordan University. They only get recent bestselling novels, which is cool I guess, although that’s not the reading I do. They also have the ordering off the internet service, where you can buy any book with the ratio of $1= 1.3 JD. I’ve never used that service, but my brothers get all their shoes from there, and so far, so good.

The other bookstores around but which I’ve never bought anything from due to limited, mostly old, and overpriced collections and/or horrible book organizing are “The University Bookshop”, “Istiklal Bookshop”, and “The Oxford Bookshop”. I’ve never left any of those places with a book.

At the end of the day, I didn’t find the book I was looking for anywhere, although I ended up with four books, all from Titles, and my brother Hisham bought 2 books, also from Titles.

The loot:

  • Atlast Shrugged” by Ayn Rand: The first book I started reading, so far, so good.
  • Banat Al-Riyadh” by Rajaa Il Sane’: I’m really excited about reading this book! It’s set in Riyadh, the city where I was a “bint”. I read the first few pages, and I love the way it’s written and the issues it’s tackling.
  • 1984” by George Orwell: Of course I’ve read this book before, but I thought that it was worth owning.
  • A Million Little Pieces” by James Frey (gorgeous cover)
  • The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand
  • The Accidental” by Ali Smith: I’ve never heard of this book or of Ali Smith, but the book’s cubist cover that’s oh, so, DuChamp and its experimental opening chapter didn’t allow me to think twice about buying it. And yes, I do judge a book by its cover.

From the back flap:

“I was born in the year of the supersonice, the era of the multistorey multivitamin multitonic, the highrise time of men with the technology and the women who could be bionic, when jump-jets were Harrier, when QE2 was Cunard, when thirty-eight feet tall the Princess Margaret stood stately in her hoverpad, the annee erotique was only thirty aircushioned minutes away and everything went at twice the speed of sound. I opened my eyes. It was all in colour. It didn’t look like Kansas anymore. The students were on the barricades, the mode was maxi, the Beatles were transcendental, they opened a shop. It was Britian. It was great.”

Man!!! That’s gorgeous, isn’t it? I’m so amused at the fact that that paragraph isn’t making much sense to me and how I am going to have to look up several words in it! Yay! I’m so excited about reading it!

Here’s it’s fantastic cover:


مخفر؟ مغفر؟




  1. hisham

    Im reading fountain head for Ayn Rand, and it is absolutely one of the best books i ever read. Its referred to as the ‘Bible of Architecture’ and it seriously is! considering the fact that im an architect.

    I strongly encourage everyone to read it and i promise you that after reading the first 10 pages you cant possibly put it down.

  2. the fountainhead!u’ll absolutely love this book!!take ur time reading it coz its really full of ideas…but be ware,coz the writer is an athiest…with jewish origins…i still like her though…she can be really convincing…but!!some wrong conceptions might slip into ur mind….
    its my favorite book ever…im an “architect to be” too…B)

  3. She

    Not too many things make me happier than entering a good bookstore. Several years ago during a trip to London, whenever we’d get close to a bookstore, I could feel my husband start to hold my hand tighter, knowing that if he didn’t, I’d just get sucked right into the store. I think I returned from that trip with more than ten books though, so he let me have my “fix” quite frequently.

    Last Thursday, while walking towards the train home from work, I was feeling kind of down. I had some time on my hands, so I popped into a bookstore on the way that has a small selection of English-language books and bought myself Paulo Coelho’s “The Zahir”. The bad mood disappeared instantly, replaced by the giddy anticipation of starting a new book.

    Dozz, why should someone beware of an author who has Jewish origins? Are we all to be wary of authors whose religions are not the same as our own, or should a book be judged on its own merits? If a writer is persuasive enough to make you agree with his or her concepts, it is because the person is a good writer and presents effective arguments. Origin has nothing to do with it.

    Sorry for the rant, Roba. I just couldn’t pass on this one.

  4. Atlas Shrugged is one of the best books I have ever read…changed the way I looked at the world…the way I deal with people…hope you enjoy it…only bad thing is the LONG LONG LONG monologues…bas otherwise…BRILLIANT!!!

  5. hmm… sorry f i offended anyone by this,but thats what i beleive!…im not judjing ayn rand here..i adore her…but as a muslim,i do think i should watch what i graspe from books,because what makes sense is not usually the right thing(the right thing according to islam)…its not just about good writing i think, what u read has to make u a better person(again,my reference is islam)…n athiesm contradicts with all this…as for the jewish thing…i admit it might be irrelevant…i just have this notion that jews r smart enough to get u beleive in stuff u dont wanna beleive in….slowly…mayb its just my arabic identity speaking here…maybe im just not liberal enough…..but im fine with that….

  6. Dozz, books are books, including holy scriptures. The reason I’m reading these particular books is because I’m thirsty for more on Ayn Rand’s philosophy of objectivism, which I find very logical.

    She, oh, yeah, how was “The Zahir”? I’ not too excited about reading it cause I’m not a fan of Coelho, he’s a tad too romantic about the philosophy of life for my appreciation.

    Lulwa, nice.. making me anxious to read it!

  7. She

    But you can still grasp a concept without having to agree with it – it just adds to your own personal knowledge base! :-) Doesn’t gaining knowledge from other viewpoints help to make you a better person? I am impressed by your belief that what you read should make you a better person. If more people shared your belief, maybe there wouldn’t be so many worthless books lacking in real substance, because the audience just wouldn’t be there.

    As far as your notion that Jews are smart enough to get you to believe in things that you don’t want to believe in, well, your statement is very troubling. Have you ever actually met any Jews? I can’t imagine that you would be pleased to hear someone make such a sweeping statement about Muslims, especially if you know that the statement is not accurate. What kinds of things would you worry about believing in? If you are firm in your own beliefs, learning about the beliefs of others should not be seen as a threat. It’s not about being liberal, it’s about not stereotyping others because they are different from yourself.

    While I can certainly understand and respect how the content of certain books would be incompatible with your beliefs as a Muslim, I think your concern regarding Jews and their abilities is misplaced. An author may be Jewish/Christian/Muslim, but this will have nothing to do with their ability to successfully tell a story or impart information.

  8. She

    Haven’t read it yet! I’ve got to finish the book I’m reading now (“Life isn’t all Ha Ha Hee Hee” by Meera Syal), then read another book that my parents sent to me, then comes “The Zahir”. I’m a big Coelho fan. I’ve got most of his books. I just love the way he tells his stories – a modern storyteller in the truest sense, I think. His writing is beautiful. I’ll let you know how it goes!

  9. Yes Roba: read Ayn Rand for the ‘philosophy and objectivism’. Six decades after its publication and three decades after I first read it – ‘The Fountain Head’ is still on top! And I haven’t yet forgotten Roark!

    But, as impressive as Rand is – ‘Objectivism’ and ‘individualism’ are as impracticable as ‘existentialism’. That is what I have learnt – with time.

    And her thoughts, like:

    On God-

    “God… a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man’s power to conceive.”

    The purpose of life:

    “Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values.”

    …are totally contradictory to us and any one who aims for spiritual realization.

  10. So now I’m definitely off to Prime to buy Fountainhead, I’m guessing it would make a perfect present for my architect-to-be sister :)

    Roba I adore Prime too, and can never walk out of there empty-handed… and I always leave like a little child who would’ve still wanted an extra piece of candy and didn’t get it ;p

    Have you been to University Bookshop in Gardens street?? They have a huuuge collection and it’s pretty organized.. I almost always find what I need over there, the only downside being that I hate Gardens street, but then again, I hate the mall too..

  11. moi

    That collection looks very interesting… I also want to read A Million Little Pieces, especially after the whole “memoir” vs. fiction Oprah controversy which I’m sure you’ve heard about, as well as Banat Al-Riyadh (still trying to find out how to get that one shipped to this side of the world). Thanks for the info on Amman’s bookstores, I will be exploring the good ones you mentioned this summer insha’Allah :)

  12. The first time I came to know of Ayn Rand’s groundbreaking work “The Fountainhead” was also when I decided to buy it right away. It was during a casual visit to my favorite bookstore in NYC, the Strand (“18 miles of books”, they say). They had gotten a huge stack of fresh copies, on sale. It’s been standing on my shelf ever since, and I haven’t read it yet, but people continue to make remarks about it when they visit my room (particularly my architect or artist friends).

    That Ali Smith cover is totally amazing! And I have to admit, I too tend to judge a book by its cover (even after all the lectures I’ve had to hear from my elder brother about this).

  13. im not much of a reader,although books facinates me alot….im reading “one hundred years of solitude” which is a very hard book to read with lots of hard words, but how the author discribed things,it just carries me “thruough an unexplored region of my memory”.

    sense im not that much updated with books im not sure maybe everyone else here had read it but incase im worng its by “Gabriel Garcia Marquez” a nobel prize winner the book had influenced nearly every important novelist around the world.

  14. i guess we do agree on something after all..8)…i do think i should read books from all over…im even planning this imaginary trip around the world to learn about different cultures!!!…i just think one should be careful…im not talking about the major stuff…nothing will ever threat my beliefs!! but we dont change overnight…its the small insignificant details that we think wont effect us…they slip into ur subconscious…n one day…ur not the same person anymore…dont get me wrong here…change’s gud!..but i gotta watch it…like the people i hang out with…i think i should grasp what i like from books…adjust it to my own life n principles…
    for example…others should never be my goal…i never care what people think..but!…my own ego’s not the perfect substitute here…serving God is….
    thankx omar barsawad..u knida’
    helped clear my point…
    as for this jews issue….i guess its unfair to generalize the whole thing….im sure there are gr8 jews all over this world…i actaully look up to the way they managed to run the world!(n dont tell me they dont!)…
    but!…im palestinian…can u really blame me for having this negative idea about jews???…it’ll take more then a couple of kind-hearted jews to change this perspective….

  15. Roba!!! Such great books! :) :) The Fountainhead is AWESOME, it is a pretty long book but I absolutely could not put it down until I was done.
    Banat Il-Riyadh: SO much fun to read. Can’t wait to hear your reactions to it.
    A Million Little Pieces: So much controversy around this book but I heard it was great, I think I’ll get it too!
    Have fun!

  16. She


    This is what is so wonderful about the blogosphere! It allows you to learn about places you’ve never been and may never have a chance to visit. I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much from Jordanian bloggers like Roba and others, and for the most part, I’ve enjoyed it tremendously.

    I think that change is what you make it. It allows you to grow as a person, and it is up to you whether you use the change to make you a better person or a worse person. I know that’s true with me. I have allowed myself to expand my mind and learn about views that differ from my own, and I believe this has made me into a better person, a person with more compassion for others, even if we are different.

    You are right that there are many great Jews around the world. There are also many terrible Jews around the world. The same can be said of Muslims, Christians, Israelis, Arabs, etc. It isn’t the label that makes us good or bad, it is who we are on the inside and our actions towards others.

    As for you having negative views about Jews because you are Palestinian, I would understand it more if you had said Israelis instead of Jews (though as both a Jew and an Israeli, it makes me sad to hear such a statement). Most Jews around the world have never been to Israel, and don’t care about it so much, if at all. Having negative feelings towards all Jews is as bad the current wave of global Islamophobia. Hating people because of their religion or race is just wrong.

    As far as Jews running the world, well, if that were true, we’d be in much better shape than we are, on all fronts.

    Okay, all of that being said, we’ve taken off-topic comments to the limit here (sorry, Roba), but I’d be happy to continue this dialog off-line via email, as I’m quite enjoying it. If you’re interested, come to my blog and click the email link. The choice is yours.

  17. hehehehe!that last sentence sounds….like im gonna save the world…well i am…saving her blog!im coming!

  18. She

    Ooops! By “we”, I meant the Jews (in the sentence “As far as Jews running the world, well, if that were true, we’d be in much better shape than we are, on all fronts.”), and definitely did not mean that the whole world would be in better shape! That’s what happens when you don’t read what you write before hitting the publish button! I can’t believe I wrote that!

  19. Anonymous

    I must say detest Ayn Rand’s philosophy, some myopic person has commented that sh’es jewish or an atheist so that’s a problem.
    Personally, her analysis of religion is I believ the most poignant and meaningful aspect of her philosophy, however the rest of her ideology is problematic.
    Certain individuals refer to objectivism as egoism which is certainly not completely untrue.

    Borrowing heavily from adam smith’s invisible hand she takes it a step further, in a famous essay she calls social workers and vlounteers parasites causing harm to society.

    Her economic thinking is someone immature, that is not to say that free markets do not allocate resources sufficiently but there does exist market failure. There are other problems within her narrative that advocate active self interest at the expense of others. Most free market thinkers tend to advocate promoting one’s self interest and that that would ensure growth and prosperiy. She takes this a step further by emphasizing the need to disadvantage those around us.


  20. I still haven’t finished the book, so I can’t judge her philosophy just yet. Reading isn’t really about trying to change what you believe.. it’s about growing as a person.

    She, although I didn’t comment because it is a sensitive issue that I would rather not get involved in discussing at the moment, I have very much enjoyed your conversation with Dozz.

  21. A few comments on the books:
    Yes, Rand is an atheist, as am I. This, I hope, is one of the few things we have in common. Her appeal is strictly to selfishness — the idea that she takes the common misapprehansion of what Adam Smith says to extremes is accurate (Smith wasn’t as bad as those who quote him make him seems).
    For me the basis of ethics includes respect for others, realization that we are all part of this wonderful 6 billion member club called ‘humanity.’ In fact, I feel that we evolved communication, cooperation, AND an ethical sense because they are important survival traits.

    Rand’s idea of women as ‘prizes’ to be won by the strongest man also offends me.

    I do understand that much of her writing is a reaction to the fact that the Russian Revolution happened during her youth, but as with many ‘reactions’ she takes an extreme (and extremely bad) idea and turns it upside down and inside out to come up with an equally extreme and equally bad one.

    As for the James Frye, this book has been so totally discredited as non-fiction that he is almost a laughing stock. (Apparently, if he’d been willing to call it fiction it might have been perfectly okay, but ‘first-timer’ fiction doesn’t sell as well as ‘memoirs.’
    Oprah has apologized to her viewers for backing this, btw.
    I should counter my negativity with some positive recommends, and I’ll jump around. Almost any non-fiction by V.S.Naipaul. Science Fiction by Robert Heinlein — “Randism” made human. Mysteries by Rex Stout, wonderful people and beneath it a very humane intelligence. Also by Reginald Hill, perhaps the best and most serious writer in teh field today (not serious in tone, but serious in intent, when you read them, remember the central character is NOT Dalziel but Pascoe, between and pulled by the two forces of Dalziel and his own wife.)
    And, for simple good writing, anything by Louis Auchincloss. His world is a small one, the world of NY’s upper class, but he is a magnificent writer. My favorite is POWERS OF ATTORNEY.

  22. I’ve read this post on your blogspot blog, and I still remember it, I’m looking for some books, which are not available here in Irbid.

    so thanks for this really valuable piece of information :)

    I bought some stuff from “The University BookStore”, and yes, they’re too expensive !

    I never heared of “Titles”, so thank you, Im going to visit it nshallah :)

  23. I’ve just read the rest of the post!

    Im looking for FountainHead too ! lol

  24. shamel

    where can i buy Atlas Shrugged in Riyadh???? anyone has it?????….pls reply…thanks

  25. you can visit aramex media’s new website ARAMEX Media has a wide range of books novels, political, self help, best seller’s, and many more. and can be delivered to the place you want. also we can order the book you want if we dont have it. so if anybody is intersted we can add your email to our weekly newsletter and you’ll start recieving top 5 books every week.

  26. abutamir

    Is The University Bookstore the bookstore of the University of Jordan?

    Where would one go for books on philosophy (Arabic philosophy and philosophy translated into Arabic)? Does U of Jordan have a good bookstore for this?

    Where would one go for good books on Islamic law (fiqh)?

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén