Lebanese ‘Bookaholics’ Pick Top 6 Arabic Books

The Lebanese “Bookaholics” reading group, administered by noted bibliophile Hoda Marmar (@Biologistic) has named a “top six” books in Arabic and in English from the 125 titles they’ve discussed over the past six years:

Photo from the group website; used with permission.

For the past six years, members have been reading and discussing books together, both in person and online. They vote on one or two books a month, read the titles, and then discuss them “on the page and face to face in a public place in Beirut, Lebanon.”

Occasionally, the group meets with local authors to discuss their books.

Last week, the group — which has nearly 80,000 Facebook members, although considerably fewer who meet in person — recently celebrated their sixth anniversary at Libraire Antoine in Beirut with one of their favorite authors, Selim Batti. As part of their anniversary celebrations, the group announced their “top 12,” chosen by email vote: six titles in Arabic and six in English.

The six in Arabic:

الإقلاع عكس الزمن: إميلي نصرالله
لن أغادر منزلي: سليم بطّي
يا مريم: سنان أنطون
زوربا اليوناني: نيكوس كازانتزاكي
خرائط التيه: بثينة العيسى
الخلدان الصماء: عبد الحكيم القادري

Flight Against Time, by Emily Nasrallah (translated to English by Issa Boullata, new edition available as ebook)

I’m Not Leaving My House, by Selim Batti (not available in English translation)

Ave Maria, by Sinan Antoon (translated to English as Baghdad Eucharist, by Maia Tabet; read an excerpt)

Zorba the Greek, by Nikos Kazantzakis (translated to Arabic by Edward Abu Hamra)

Maps of Wandering, by Bothayna al-Essa (not available in English translation; read an excerpt from Sawad Hussain)

The Deaf Moles, by Abdul Hakim al-Qadri (not available in English translation)