Reading Several Books At Once.

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“Stuck” is the word to use when all you can do to face your inability to cope with your several readings is goggle your eyes. Books of different shapes and languages are scattered around you, and they only accentuate your dilemmas about what to resume reading first. Is it this book in French by that very prominent sociologist, or is it this one in Arabic by this great Egyptian novelist, or maybe you should continue reading either one of those three English novels you started last week…

A Stuck Reader

Finally, you make up your mind and grab either one of those books. However, somehow, the words get blurry and the characters start jumping from one book into the other as if they were circus artists doing amazing confusing stunts! 

You might still want to focus. You’d probably start pondering about the merits of every book and author at hand for some minutes to make a final decision. But if you’re like me, you’d most probably just grab the remote and watch Mr. Bean, instead.

Is this really your idea of enjoying reading? If your answer is yes, then keep doing what you’re doing, and stop reading this post right now… NOW, I said. If your answer is no, then what follows might be helpful.

Hereafter are some pieces of advice you might want to consider:

                • Do not read several books at once:

Yes. I think that for people like myself, we just cannot commit to this kind of relationships. So my advice to you is to take it slow. One book at a time shall do you good.

What we need to understand is that we’re different, and so are our abilities. Reading several books at the same time is not a healthy practice for some people. Some others can do this but some others can’t. This doesn’t imply that my breed are stupid, or that people who can read many books at once are smarter, it just means that we have different skills and intelligences. So, don’t feel bad about it.

(What?… I heard that! And no, I’m not just comforting myself?)

After all, the only good thing about being able to read different books at once is that you can switch books if you get tired or bored. However, the cons of this practice outweigh this single advantage.

  • Do not mix languages:

If you’re going to read many books. Like, if you really really have to, make sure that they’re in the same language. Reading books in different languages at the same time is confusing, especially if you’re a fast reader in some language(s) but a slow reader in other language(s). You’ll make much more progress reading in the language(s) your fluent in, while you’d be lagging behind in the other language(s), which might stir some dissatisfaction and might, in some cases, lead to low self-esteem, depression and then, suicide. Just kidding, but you got the point!

  • Get time to read but don’t force yourself into it:

Make a schedule and try to stick to it. Choose the time of the day that fits you best and plan your readings accordingly. Some people prefer to read at nights, other people prefer to read upon waking up. Don’t forget to make use of your free time and weekends, too.

  • Prioritize:

Some things in life are more important than others, so are books. Start with the book which you have a strong and fresh desire to read, when you get tired of it, try the next book you’re looking forward to read. You should always have interest in what’s between your hands, otherwise, the reading experience would be ruined.

  •  “Prioritize” doesn’t mean ignore:

 If you leave a book for too long, you’d probably forget everything about it. Picking it up again would be kind of meaningless. Hence, if you feel that one of the books your reading isn’t as interesting as the others, leave it for another reading set, or just drop it altogether, but don’t feel compelled to finish it. This will only increase your anxiousness, and we don’t want that, do we? DO WE?

  • Use a timeline:

A notepad and a pencil would be very helpful. Track down the ideas, characters and events of the book. You can add your feelings, expectations and questions about the book. It’s also important to make sure to read your notes every time you want to resume reading, it’ll freshen up your memory and put you in the right mood for that particular reading.

  •  Read (a) whole chapter(s) every time:

Don’t stop in the middle of a chapter. If you do, you’d probably be lost when you resume reading. Think of this as watching a series, what would you rather do, stop watching at the end of the episode and wait for the new one, or stop in the middle of the current one?…There you go!

  • Real readers love challenges:

Eat you broccoli, finish your dish! If you start several books and don’t manage to complete anyone of them, the effect will be very counterproductive. So, go on and finish your books, at least some of them. The feeling is really satisfying, believe me. Remember that if you don’t, you’ll probably have a very low self-esteem, depression and might commit suicide. Just kidding again, but you got the point!

  • Join

Goodreads is a great reading carrefour. People write reviews and send updates about their readings. You can set up an annual goal and work on achieving it. A little competition would never hurt.

This, dear bookworms, is what I can think of for the moment. I’m sure you can have many other ideas on how to accomplish this task. So, please feel free to share them in the comment section. 

Happy reading, everyone!


“Orientalism;” An Ongoing Discussion

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If there is anything I appreciate about the Internet it’s its power to eliminate distances. Fortunately, I could make use of this powerful treat offered by the Internet in one of my most valuable experiences. This unique experience is nothing but my amazing ongoing discussion of Edward Said‘s “Orientalism” with my American friend.

Edward Said

Even though we live in totally different places, my friend and I communicate on a daily basis and we always manage to discuss different stimulating topics. So we thought of taking our discussions to the next level and read a book together. Thus, I chose Edward Said’s “Orientalism.” This choice was partly because I’ve always heard of it and wanted to read it, and partly because I knew it contained very interesting and debatable topics that both my friend and I would enjoy.

Ok let’s face it, the writing style is obtuse. Also, It takes some knowledge in different fields to be able to fully understand Said’s words. He can hover over a variety of topics such as history, politics, culture, media, anthropology, literature, epistemology, etc. in one or two pages. Furthermore, sometimes, I feel as if Said takes it for granted that the reader is acquainted with some references and allusions, which can be an additional burden on the shoulder of the non-specialized reader.

On the other hand, what my friend and I are enjoying about this book is the fruits of our discussions. You can think of Orientalism as a “discussion stimulator,” and a thought-provoking starting point to our in-depth talks. Therefore, we always end up with very interesting discussions that help us better our understanding of the American as well as the Arab mindsets.

Our talks make us view issues from different perspectives. Therefore, many of our lingering questions have finally been answered. Many assumptions have been altered, and many fallacies corrected. Thus, I’m now starting to see how Americans REALLY view us, and vice versa.  I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that I have learnt more about America and Americans since I started reading and discussing this book than I had done in my entire life. My friend, too, made it clear that she has come see things from a different angle and from a fresh perspective, and that she has learnt a lot as well.

I think that what we appreciate about this ongoing discussion is that we both accept each other’s opinions and points of view no matter how distant our stands are. No one is claiming that their way of looking at things is the best, and no one is ridiculing the other’s views or opinions. It’s a friendly discussion with a special interest in mutual understanding.

I wish we all opted for dialog instead of surrendering to preconceived ideas and stereotypical views of the other. I think a lot of the world’s tragedies would have been avoided had those in power resorted to dialog. However, I believe that hope will still be glowing at the end of the tunnel as long as there are people willing to talk, discuss and open their minds.

Free Hugs at the Train Station? Is Morocco Becoming Americanized?

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Morocco has a long tradition of following the French example in virtually everything. Nearly every major sector is either run by French people or is following the French standards. However, I’ve come to notice that our society has been through a major shift in the past decade, more and more Moroccans choose to learn and speak English instead of French, more American centers, American schools and British Council offices have been opening their doors to the public in big cities, and more work opportunities that require English speaking staff have been opening up.

One of the events that made me want to write about this topic was the surprise I had when I saw a group of teenagers offering “FREE HUGS” at the Rabat Ville train station a couple of weeks ago. I accepted a hug and with it accepted tons of questions. How come things I only see on Youtube are taking place here in Morocco? Is it happening in some cities only, or is it taking place everywhere? And more importantly what does the general public think of these imported phenomena?

 It is known that French traditions are deeply rooted in the Moroccan society, French is the language of the elite, it is the language used in higher education and in the workplace. Nevertheless, the current changes seem to be imposing English on the Moroccan market. Thus, more companies are now recruiting English-speaking university graduates, the demand on English is rising and French is facing a doubtful future in Morocco. Professor Hassan Bouzidi Foresaw this change in his 1998 article “French Is No Longer de Rigueur” where he gave reasons for why English is sweeping French dominance in Morocco. I assume it is also known that language and culture go hand in hand; wherever a  language is spoken, its culture dominates. Hence, French is facing a double threat, the first is constituted by giving up its status of the first foreign language in Morocco, and the second is represented by giving the floor to American culture to gain ground in Morocco and North Africa, a place that has always followed the French tradition in all aspects.

However, many people still think that French will reconquer Morocco. They think of English as a temporary and fashionable thing, just a linguistic “fling”. These usually are the people who always believed French was superior to other languages and people who never thought French would be substituted by a different foreign language. Nevertheless, I think that this is just an attempt to hide their frustration. All the hopes they put on French are being swept away by the English tsunami, and it’s just too hard to admit.

Morocco has become an appealing place for English language teachers from the US and the UK.

It is therefore apparent that the French language and culture could not keep up with the overwhelming invasion of their American and British counterparts. We can now witness the presence of signs of Americanization everywhere in Morocco. We now have malls in the American style, fast food restaurants are showing up like mushroom,  Globalization has made it mandatory for everyone in the world to get in touch with the American culture. Business,  Internet, Hollywood and media have been highly influential in this process. But, hey, isn’t Morocco an Arab-Amazigh nation after all?

Yes, it is. And in this regard, many Moroccans lament how we’re shifting from French, a language and culture that represent the colonialists, to English, a language and culture that represent the “oppressor”, whereas our mother tongues (Arabic and Berber) are being forgotten and disrespected. Some say it’s done on purpose, whereas others blame the society itself for this situation. “What do we produce? Where do we stand? What added value do we offer?…Nothing! So why would we go crazy about the situation of our mother tongues when we don’t do anything to honor them?”  Some people wonder.

All in all, I think that a legacy of more than a century won’t disappear overnight. In front of the lack of interest in our mother tongues, French and the French culture are still keeping a tight grip on the neck of Morocco and Moroccans. However, the change is undeniable. It started with Hip-Hop music, it’s moved to Free Hugs and Flash Mobs, and I’m quite positive it will end with more implication of English in our everyday lives, academia, business and even government.