If you don’t read books, don’t bother to read this either. There are many words to describe Borders shutting down its Muscat City Centre outlet: awful, inconsiderate, unacceptable, unfair… you get the drift. For once we had a proper bookstore with miles of rows to walk down and sift through and now we are back to the status of a small village.
Due apologies to all small villages everywhere and I am sure some of them have more books to offer than our big, shiny city of Muscat. And then I hear that Family Bookshop in Qurm is apparently shutting down too. Is no one buying books anymore? It’s not as if we have a million libraries to borrow books from. Please note that I am choosing to believe that we all read because the alternative is too painful to consider.
I don’t even remember what age I started reading but clearly recall borrowing Tolstoys and Dostoyevskys from my great-grandfather’s collection because I had not been allowed to buy a book that week. I probably understood one sentence in every 20 as I was younger than nine at the time but it was better than not having anything.
Reading opens up the whole wide world to you – Enid Blyton made tomato sandwiches and scones sound like the best food on earth. What would a five year old know about scones growing up in Calcutta eons ago? Colin Dexter brought Oxford alive through Morse’s eyes more than a visit there did, as Herriot did with Yorkshire. Reading Reginald Hill or Thomas Hardy left me wanting to be able to write so elegantly some day.
Did I just say the world? Sorry. Reading opened up worlds beyond our world. Asimov’s three laws of robotics and the Foundation series, Gemmell’s Rigante series, Funke’s Inkworld trilogy, Fforde’s Thursday Next series and Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series – I can’t imagine not having the good fortune of reading all this.
I am also very annoyed because Borders closing down finally made me take the decision to buy a Kindle. I don’t believe in reading on a screen. I can’t bear the thought of not having a book to hold. I went around to many shops on a recent trip but in the end resisted because it felt like a betrayal.
On coming back when I heard about Borders, I finally gave up and decided to get one. I rationalised it though: it is convenient when I travel. Not a light traveller by any standards, books usually add significantly to my baggage weight because of my perennial fear that I may run out of reading material.
I will always buy books – just not in a bookshop in Muscat anymore. Unless Kinokuniya comes to Muscat and saves us all.