Buying Books in Kuwait

I can’t believe it, but next month, after the new year would mark two years of marriage and two years since I moved to Kuwait! You can almost say I’m a local now! After the success of my previous post Where to Shop for Books in Kuwait, I got a LOT of questions, so I decided to write down some of the tips I would have found useful when I arrived here.

I’ve went out of my way to find books in Kuwait and I discovered many interesting things; you see Amman is open, there isn’t many secret locations and underground ways to buy anything (as far as I know) but Kuwait is different, there are layers, surprises and many ways to locate what you are looking for.

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The way bookshops even arrange their books is chaotic to me. Upon entering a bookshop no matter where you enter, make sure to browse the WHOLE shop! You might find what you are looking for because the system isn’t accurate, a shop clerk might tell you: “We don’t have the book you are asking for.” While you are either holding it in your hands, or just stumbled upon it. This happened to me a couple of times in Jarir Bookstore and That AlSalasil, still, they’re my favorite bookstores in Kuwait, the staff are friendly, they’re clean and there are more options in both stores than any other place in Kuwait, also there is always new books to see every few weeks.

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The other thing is, if you like books in English, you must be patient, they are NEVER set together, they would be scattered. You might find a great fiction book set in the Young Adult section, or YA in Kids section and so forth.

If you are looking for the Arabic Classics be ready to be disappointed, your chances to locate a translated edition is higher than the actual book, many are prohibited which I find absurd like Kahlil Gibran and Alaa Al Aswany’s books! So if you have a list certain of books, I recommend Beirut or Cairo for the oldies, or sudden book fairs and small stationary shops, yup, you heard me, they have a LOT of great editions, because the merchandise are chosen by the owners. Still, many of my books are still from home, Amman.

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Another good way is to browse Instagram for individual sellers like Chapter One Bookstore and LAVENDER STOP, they both deliver to your house door and take a delivery fee. I bought a book from Chapter One, I felt it was over the price (I later found the same book, half the price) but the packaging was so cute.

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Another good place to find books is used bookstores such as Q8books, people from all over, giveaway and donate books, your chances are high in finding books as good as new! I used to buy books from Bayt Lothan but it closed, I found such great editions, it’s a shame.

In any case, if you have any other questions or inquiries, please comment below, thank you for reading!

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Visit Kuwait

On a softer note, after the heavy subject of the last post, I would like to talk about the new country I live in now.

Kuwait is so different from Amman in as many ways as possible… I’m not even talking about the weather! I’m talking about the buildings, the color of stones, the way the sun and the moon are so close and large! The weird U-turns and street and parking signs, the lights, and of course the sea, the heat, the people, the fashion, the nationalities, the radio, the number of accidents, the number of cars, the makeup, the style of entertainment, the decoration at homes, the different flavor of food, spices and onions, the small cooking pans, the smell of the city, the pulse of the streets, the early hour of dawn, the tiny apartments, the language barrier when ordering food or meeting a new person, the art, the ads, the music, the cats… everything.

But I’m falling in love with this country, I do miss home, and Amman will always, always be home, but I can’t deny how much my feelings have changed in the last few months.

Kuwait is not beautiful… it’s striking, you know what I mean? But once you know your way around, you know how to order your food, and know where to get things, and meet warm friends, you feel it could be beautiful.

In the next few months Kuwait’s weather will be amazing, more like spring than autumn or winter… perfect for tourists to enjoy their time exploring on foot like I did when I arrived here.

Amman is different, it’s beautiful, historic, and with so much diversity… but here the diversity lays on where to go and what to do and most importantly with whom, it’s like a scavenger hunt! Both countries are family oriented but they’re still different even in that sense.

It’s like figs and pepper… but they blend well together.

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Graffiti from Amman to Kuwait

Since I was raised in an artistic house, with a talented mother, I always looked for art in everything from books, music to raindrops and galleries, and for some years I started looking for street art. I find it so raw and honest, expressing the youth of the society they decorate for, for free.

“People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish… but that’s only if it’s done properly.” ― Banksy, Wall and Piece

I know graffiti is considered vandalism and a kind of art of lower value, but I don’t see it this way. I love how an old building, a bridge, a road sign could change from an old or boring sight to something spectacular by an anonymous artist.

“Graffiti is one of the few tools you have if you have almost nothing. And even if you don’t come up with a picture to cure world poverty you can make someone smile while they’re having a piss.” ― Banksy, Banging Your Head Against a Brick Wall

So I’m always in the hunt, it could be a print, a calligraphy, a sign, a whole wall of expressive art… absolutely anything; I found amazing things in Amman, Beirut, Cairo, and lately Kuwait. Sadly, I lost most of my photos in a hard drive crash circa 2015!

“I spray the sky fast. Eyes ahead and behind. Looking for cops. Looking for anyone I don’t want to be here. Paint sails and the things that kick in my head scream from can to brick. See this, see this. See me emptied onto a wall.” ― Cath Crowley, Graffiti Moon

I wanted to share in this post my appreciation for these individuals… I love what you’re doing! Color all those concrete gray streets and evade cops… you’re making history, they just don’t see it yet.

“Art is an evolutionary act. The shape of art and its role in society is constantly changing. At no point is art static. There are no rules.” ― Raymond Salvatore Harmon, BOMB: A Manifesto of Art Terrorism

If you know any location that has some interesting art I would love to see it for myself, even if it’s around the world, I will add it to my list, so please share your favorites. x

“Some people become cops because they want to make the world a better place. Some people become vandals because they want to make the world a better looking place.” ― Banksy, Wall and Piece

P.S. Of course, most of the best photos of me are taken by my handsome talented husband who loves me so much he indulges all my obsessions…. I LOVE you baby! So this post ends and begins with you.

“I like that about art, that what you see is sometimes more about who you are than what’s on the wall.” ― Cath Crowley, Graffiti Moon

Bookie in Cap Eating Paella

A couple of week ago, Hamad and I were invited to a farewell gathering to one of Hamad’s acquaintances in the Contemporary Art Platform, and since the last time I visited all I wanted was to raid their art stocked bookshelves… or at the very least get photographed with them. I kind of did both.

For the gathering I wore my new H&M yellow blouse which is airy, with slightly sheer fabric and a printed pattern and a pair of ankle-length jeans in washed stretch denim with ultra-slim legs and a high waist which is super slimming and flattering and a pair of light yellow high heels with faux patent leather, high-gloss finish and rounded toe from ZARA.

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For accessories I wore my metal necklace “VAEDIEN” from Aldo which I absolutely love, to enhance my outfit I added my colorful gorgeous “JUHI WOW ENVELOPE CLUTCH BAG” (that I was asked about a lot) from Accessorize, its embroidery, sequins and tassels combine to create this statement clutch. Perfect for that special occasion, this bag has a roomy main compartment and internal pocket with zip closure.

Hamad and I met friends, chatted, took photos and most importantly ate Paella! One of my absolute favorite dishes, that I’m planning on making lots of time in the next few months. Of course we were blown away by the size of the cooking pan, secretly I wanted to take the whole thing home with me, it was that good!

My mom always likes to experiment with new recipes, I guess I take that from her, she once told me the story of Paella and what it means, not sure if it’s an accurate story or not but it’s beautiful, Paella comes from Spain, and from an Arabic word “بقايا” which means “leftover”; once an angry hungry king under siege, demanded food, there wasn’t anything fit for a king or enough in the kitchen so the cook decided to create a mess, she gathered all the available rice, vegetables and poultry, seafood and meat into one huge pot, the king fell in love with the dish (as he should!) and asked the cook what it’s called, she said “Paella”. Beautiful story, right?

Where to Shop for Books in Kuwait

Since I came here, I was vastly disappointed by the lack of books and variety, so I needed to discover all the bookshops available, form an opinion and go from there to what to do next. Which is naturally to order through internet and use a shipping company such as Aramex.

Here is a list of all the available shops I discovered and their locations and what they have:

Number One
That Al-Salasil | ذات السلاسل

That Al-Salasil has many branches, I discovered 5 locations so far, but there isn’t different variety in the collection. It has two branches in the Avenues Mall, the main one is larger, but I prefer the smaller one because it has more English books, and it’s closer to Frozen Ice Cream (another story, another post… soon!). The third branch is in Al Hamra Tower, tiny but has good YA novels. The fourth one is in the Marina Crescent, and the last one is on the way to Old Salmiyah, too tiny and old for my taste.

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In the Avenues Main bookstore.

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In the Marina Crescent.

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The small shop in The Avenues also.

Number Two
Jashanmal |  جاشنمال

Jashanmal is by far my favorite bookstore in Kuwait, it’s located in the ground floor in 360° Mall, it has a good collection of books and sometimes magazines, the latest cooking books I got were from this cute shop.

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Number Three
Jarir | جرير

Jarir is not just a bookstore, it has many stationary and art supply, and by far I think it has the largest updated collection of both Arabic and English books. I just wish that books weren’t a taboo here, I mean if they don’t like the cover or the title, they either don’t bring it OR worst, they would tarnish it with black marker as they do magazines to me this is a crime of first degree! Jarir of course isn’t the only place that does that, all the other bookstores are also under this terrible spell.

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Number Four
Bayt Lothan | بيت لوذان

Bayt Lothan kind of reminds me of Books@Cafe in Amman, it sells used books only in great condition, most of the sold books haven’t even been used, the spines usually are intact, you can find great editions there, but don’t count on finding the whole series! Bayt Lothan also is a great place to give your books to or exchange it with. Some local groups have their book club meetings there which is cool.

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Number Five
Al Muthana Complex | مجمع المثنى

I don’t remember the name of this shop for many reason, the first that it’s horrible, a messy old bookstore that’s about to close, that’s why I used the name of the building rather than the store. Seriously, it has nothing except a collection of withering books collecting the dust. Don’t bother visiting, not worth the effort.

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Number Six
S&S | أس أند أس

This tiny bookstore is located in Layla Gallery which is a mall, ground floor, mostly sells kids books and very few YA books, but it has an order service, so if you want a certain book they will deliver, haven’t tried it because I still order from my book dealer back home.

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I guess that’s mostly it, which is depressing, if you dear reader know any other good bookstores I’m all ears. I wish Kuwait will expand its horizons not just in trade and commerce in other department such as book, and food products, some brands are overpowering the market which isn’t fair to anyone, especially people like me who like quantity and variety. On a last point, I think it’s time to change and be more open-minded about books, magazines and womanhood. There’s nothing wrong about the female body or even romance in books. It’s all healthy.

Stay “ocean” minded. x

From Amman to Kuwait: 4 Suitcases | 3 Weekenders | 1 Husband

As I moved my life from Amman to Kuwait, leaving home behind and carrying my dear possessions from clothes to shoes, accessories to jewelry, perfumes to makeup, I found myself in QAIA carrying an overload of 4 huge suitcases, stuffed 3 weekenders and my handsome hubby, my best accessory, trying to help me stop weeping while saying goodbye to my dear ones. The two of us were a picture. Picture perfect.

I not only looked horrible in my “goodbye photos”, I totally ruined my style! I had runny mascara, smudged red lipstick, red nose, messy hair and sad eyes.

Half of a good style is a smile; haven’t you heard “happy girls are the prettiest girls”? But, ugh, life happens!

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It was cold in Amman so I had on my H&M army green leather sleeved parka jacket with faux white hood fur and snap button fastenings through front, four pockets full of tissues, inner drawstring at waist to warm me as we waited in the air-conditioned airport.

Underneath I wore an American Eagle long-sleeved soft royal blue sweater with H&M half leather, half lycra leggings with ankle boots with four-inch H&M heels, carrying my leather Aldo bag that looks a bit like a Kelly. Have “Really Red” manicure and pedicure nail polish from Essie. Adorned with my Azza Fahmy wedding band, a breathtaking necklace, bracelet and ring from Swarovski, and a delicate Omega gold watch.

I went to the ladies room before heading on board, reapplied my MAC lipstick and added a splash of Chance Chanel perfume, walked out and got ready for my next adventure in Kuwait with style.

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