Borders Bookstore Opening in Avenues

Borders Bookstore Opening in Avenues

Post by Mark

I was at Avenues this past weekend and noticed that the American bookstore Borders was opening in place of where H&M used to be in Phase 1. Borders filed for bankruptcy and closed down in the US a few years ago but the brand still exists around the world including in the UAE. It’s not as cool as the Japanese bookstore Kinokuniya, but then again, beggars can’t be choosers.

The stationary store Paperchase is also opening right next door to Borders which is also pretty cool.

Must Have Old Books on Kuwait

Must Have Old Books on Kuwait

Post by Mark

I don’t tend to collect as many things as I used to, but recently I got obsessed with trying to obtain some very old and difficult to find English books on Kuwait. The three most recent books I managed to get have now become my most treasured ones, The Arab of the Desert (1949), Kuwait and Her Neighbours (1956), and The Wild Flowers of Kuwait and Bahrain (1955).

I had lusted after these books for some time now but because they were expensive, I never pulled the trigger on them. But, a few weeks back while at the home of the Australian ambassador, I spotted the books on his shelves. It was such an odd experience seeing them live, they were books I had obsessed about virtually but then seeing them in person felt so weird. I couldn’t believe he even had The Wild Flowers of Kuwait and Bahrain, a book written by Violet Dickson, the wife of H. R. P. Dicksonand published in 1955. Not only a very difficult book to get because of its scarcity, but also one that wasn’t that popular due to its subject matter.

I quickly flipped through the books and posted some pictures on my Instagram story. As I was flipping through the books and taking photos I quickly realized how badly I needed to have these books. All this time I had been reading on the books and looking at photos of their covers, but I had never seen the books from the inside. Both “The Arab of the Desert” and “Kuwait and Her Neighbours” are filled with illustrations, fold-out maps and family trees, loose documents, black and white photos and tons and tons of interesting information. They are very thick books filled with a lot of content and after spending just a few minutes with them, there was no way I wasn’t getting them.

The first thing I did was delete the photos of the books I had just posted on my Instagram story. I realized if I wanted to get my hands on these books then I should get them first, and then post about them. I then spent the next two weeks going through every website I could find looking for the right copies of these books. I wanted first editions, I wanted the books with their dust jackets, I wanted them in good condition and most importantly, I wanted to pay a reasonable price. After a few emails to various sellers asking for more photos of the books, and after a few more emails negotiating the prices, I managed to get my hands on all three books. I managed to get first editions of Kuwait and Her Neighbours and The Wild Flowers of Kuwait and Bahrain (I think there is only one edition of this anyway), but I ended up getting a second edition print of The Arab of the Desert. I settled for a second edition print because of the price and the fact the copy I got was signed by his wife Violet Dickson.

I’m now trying to figure out how I can share the books online, not fully, but just a way for people to get a feel of these books. The best idea I have so far is to mount a camera on a tripod and then flip through the books while I record a video. If anyone has a better idea let me know. For now, I’ve temporarily created a highlight on my instagram account with pictures of the books and some pages inside. You can check those out on my account @mark248am

Flashback: The Family Bookshop

Flashback: The Family Bookshop

Post by Mark

The Family Bookshop, one of the oldest and most popular English bookshops in Kuwait closed down for good eight years ago. Just before they closed down I passed by and took photos of the place. I shared some of the photos back then but since it was National Bookshop Day a few days ago, I wanted to re-upload all the photos I took that day. The photos below are in higher resolution than the previous ones I had published and I’m also sharing all the photos I took that day, not just some of them. So check them out below.


Sticking Your Bookshelf In Your Ears feedly

Sticking Your Bookshelf In Your Ears


Back in the 80s, I was stationed in Germany, and for about a year, I found myself having to travel to the United States every few weeks for meetings and conferences. Depending on the time of year, the flight could be up to 14 hours each way. At that time, the inflight entertainment system meant everybody being forced to watch the same two movies displayed on a big screen in the center of the cabin. This quickly evolved into having the choice of about five movies on an individual seat display. There was no control over when the movie started and no way to pause them. After two or three flights, I had seen everything they were showing. I could watch DVDs on my computer, but the batteries only lasted about two hours.

Fortune had it that I got an email from a company called Audible. The service was basically books-on-tape but using computer files that could be downloaded and listened to on devices like an iPod. At the time I had no iPod and was about to delete the message when I noticed that if I signed up for a year of service, they would send me a free player. I signed an agreement to buy two books or so monthly for the next year and waited on my player to arrive. The next time I flew, I had four audiobooks loaded on my player, which gave me about 30 hours of entertainment. I not only had entertainment in flight but something to listen to as I drove through DC traffic to and from meetings.

Audiobooks-beginner-guide-header-670x335.pngI didn’t realize it until just recently, but I listen to almost 100 books during that period. I might’ve read the same amount, but it is doubtful because it is hard to read while driving in DC traffic – – except during the many standstills. As a result of listening to those books, I also discovered several authors I had never heard of before, like David Sedaris and Richard Belzer, among others. To me, audiobooks were great for filling a spot of time that might otherwise be left vacant while providing entertainment and the chance to indulge my imagination.

I eventually got an iPod, the only piece of Apple equipment I own, and I still enjoy audiobooks from a variety of sources. I also enjoy having a book to take with me when I‘m faced with the prospect of a long drive.

When I first became an author, I wondered how I could get my book turned into audiobook format. I have a background in vocal narration both from the theater and radio, so I could do it myself, but I did not have a recording studio to do it properly. When I published my fourth book, I noticed two of the book publishers I was using offered audiobook creation services. They would pair the author with various producers to create the audiobook version of the manuscript.

Where do I sign up?

image.jpgLater this week, I will be delivered my first completed audiobook. It was also the beginning of the Evan Davis series, Three Paperclips and a Grey Scarf. The book is being read by vocal artist William P. Ryan, who has done a variety of other books in the thriller genre. His voice is very much up to the task, and I just completed the final review and approval.

The next audiobook should be out by October. From Within the Firebird’s Nest will be narrated by a voice artist who formally worked for the Library of Congress doing their version of books-on-tape, Joe Biedrzycki. He is very talented and will do a spectacular job bringing the book to life.

Blood Upon the Sands is being read by Chris Abell, who has done a lot of radio and TV voiceover work. He is an Audible Approved Producer meaning he is a master of the audiobook craft. It was kismet that we ran into one another. In the end, it worked out he had some time available matching my desire to release the audiobook in late August. In the past few days, Chris has been sending me chapters so I can start reviewing his work. They are dynamite. Really looking forward to hearing the rest of the book.

As each of these become available (Amazon, iTunes & Audible), I will post a notice here letting you know where you can find them. If you’ve never tried an audiobook before, I highly recommend them. I’m not sure about the other two, but Audible does offer a trial program that lets you get your choice of several audiobooks to find out what their service is all about.

— via my feedly newsfeed

Center for Research and Studies on Kuwait

From :

Center for Research and Studies on Kuwait

Post by Mark

Last Thursday I was at the National Library looking for a specific book related to the Iraq invasion when I found a book called “Kuwaiti Resistance as Revealed by Iraqi Documents“. From the cover, it didn’t look like much but after flipping a few pages I was hooked. I knew I wanted that book so I went online to buy one from Amazon or eBay when I noticed the book was published by the Center for Research and Studies on Kuwait. The center was located next to my office so after work I decided to head to their small bookshop to see if they had it. They did, in fact, they had the book in English, Arabic, and French and for just KD3!

I’ve been meaning to post about the place for some time now ever since I found out they had a book shop. It was a small shop with just their publications so didn’t think it would be an interesting post but then on Thursday I also found out they had a library with a lot of interesting books and it was open to the public!

The Center for Research and Studies on Kuwait was established in 1992 with a number of objectives but mainly to collect various documents and studies relating to the Iraqi aggression against Kuwait. The book I purchased is one of many books the center has published on the invasion but they also have a wide range of books on Kuwait (history, environment, wildlife, etc).

The center has a library which although not as big as the National Library at least is open in the afternoon so people with jobs can pass by after work. The library is mostly filled with Arabic books but they did have a pretty decently sized section filled with English books as well as an archive of researches and presentations including proposals on the Kuwait Water Front Project (the Gulf Road basically) and original plans for the Kuwait Radion Television Centre which I had never seen before. They also had an archive of LIFE magazine issues dating from 1956 to 1963, two copies of the Saba Shiber book The Kuwait Urbanization and another book by Saba I didn’t know existed called Recent Arab City Growth (also dating back to the 60s and there is a copy on eBay for $375 so someone, please buy it right now because I can’t afford to buy all the rare books on Kuwait by myself).

If you’re looking to buy some books or spend some time in a library flipping through old books on Kuwait this is the place. Like I said it’s nowhere near as big as the Nationa Library but at least they have better opening hours. The center is open from 8AM to 1:30PM and then again from 5PM to 7:30PM. Here is their location on Google Maps.

The Kuwait Heritage Library Bookshop (Revisit)


The Kuwait Heritage Library Bookshop (Revisit)

Post by Mark

Back in 2014, I found out about a bookstore located inside the Al Bahhar Entertainment Village (Youm Al Bahar) called the Kuwait Heritage Library. I never went back to it after my initial trip but decided to do so this past Friday to see if it was still there. It was!

Since my last visit, the place has changed quite a bit, the shelves now reach the ceiling and the tiny shop was even more packed with books. It’s pretty hard to move around inside the shop now because there are books everywhere.

What I loved about the bookshop is the vast amount of old books it contained in both English and Arabic. I found a ton of stuff I wanted but they were sadly all overpriced. For example, they had an original copy of the Sons of Sinbad book by Alan Villiers priced at KD150 when similar condition books can be found online for around 40-50KD. They also had The Kuwait Urbanization book listed for KD170 when better condition copies can also be found online for around KD100 (I got mine for KD50).

BUT, if you love digging through piles of old books and flipping through pages of vintage books on Kuwait then you’re gonna really love this place. They’re open in the evening from around 6PM to 10PM but their AC isn’t working really well right now so its SUPER HOT inside. So if you pass by make sure you’re in your gym gear or something you don’t mind sweating in. If you don’t know where Youm Al Bahar is, here is the location on Google Maps. They’re also on Instagram @kuwait.heritage.library

Better Books!


Better Books!

The Better Books bookshop has been around for a very long time but I never got the chance to pass by the place until just a few days ago. Recently a friend of mine started volunteering there and when I looked up the bookshop on Google Maps, I realized it was actually walking distance from my apartment. So, I decided to pass by the bookshop and check it out.

Better Books have over 10,000 used books (and some new ones) ranging from children’s books to cookbooks, novels, self-help books, you name it. The place is small but also really cozy with different seating areas and is stacked with books everywhere. They also have a cool buyback policy. When you buy a used book from Better Books and you’re done with it, you can sell it back to them for half the price. If you also have books you don’t need they’ll also take them off you and give you store credit for them.

Better Books are located in Salmiya and you can find them on Google Maps. They’re open daily from 4PM to 9PM on weekdays and 10:30AM to 8PM on weekends. They don’t have an Instagram account or website, but they’re on Facebook.