Define: Great, Bibliomania and Shuhada

That’s David Orr introducing the lists contained within The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books. Probably a book I’m more likely to page through in a bookstore than buy, but I enjoyed the taste test from Brainpickings and it’s not like I lack for reasons to ponder the meaning of great when it comes to books.

I’m putting Daunt Books on a list for my next (alas, unscheduled) London trip, but now I also want to go book shopping in Rome, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Maastricht (Holland), Porto (Portugal) and more, thanks to Flavorwire (and Ellen).

Only in London would an elected public official already tasked with overseeing the Olympic Games also take the time to undertake memorizing the full text of The Iliad – in an election year!

Over at Arab Literature (in English), the everthoughtful mlynxqualey comments on Ahdaf Soueif’s efforts to introduce “shaheed” and “shuhada'” to English in her latest book Cairo: My City, Our Revolution:

Soueif doesn’t entirely eschew the words martyr and martyrdom. She uses them as synonyms for shaheed/shuhada several times, as if getting the reader ready for the switch. Then, as the book goes on, she substitutes shuhada. It is as though she is trying to gently move us to a new linguistic and cultural understanding. Off you go: shuhada.


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