One of my resolutions for this new year is to read more: actual books and not random articles picked up from around the internet.
So I took advantage of the long weekend and cold weather to kick start this resolution and tackle the reading pile that I have been accumulating for a while.
I started with a book called Bliss Street which I had picked up at the book fair about a month ago. It was a second hand copy and I got it because I remembered seeing it on sale at the bookstore near my school when it first came out.
Is it the most interesting of books? I would say not. But it is an entertaining read about Beirut and Lebanon, written from the perspective of a foreigner and addressing a foreigner. It is set against the backdrop of Israel withdrawing from the South, while the lives of the many characters, some Lebanese and others not, intertwine.
Along the way, you have the compulsory lessons about what makes Lebanon what it is: the power cuts, the confusing politics, needing a wasta to get things done, relationships, dating, and arranged marriages. There is even a nod to how crazy our weddings can get. But what’s nice is that it isn’t written in the stereotypical way that we have come to expect from anything written about the country.
I felt the story itself could have been a lot more stronger in terms of character development. Instead of having a handful of people being everywhere yet their lives magically intersect, I would have loved if the author would have just focused on one or two characters and explained their motives further. Some scenarios felt a bit too rushed for my taste because the author wanted to cover all the ground and explain everything he could in 300 pages.
But for a rainy weekend with nothing much to do, it was great to get sucked into something and feel like I did not want to put it down. I am definitely loving that more and more people are writing about Lebanon and I guess I’ll be reading similar books as the year continues.