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Top 10 Books of 2012

Please note that the books listed in this list have not all been published in 2012. These are among the books I personally read in the past year, some date back to the 90s even.

10. A Clash of Kings- George R. R. Martin


Clash of Kings

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Posted by on December 31, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

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Book Review: The Shadow of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Shadow Of The Wind

 

From the moment I first grabbed that book, I instantly felt hooked. The plot, the setting, and the literature in the book promised nothing but a ride full of shadows and mystery. I knew I would love this one.

But. There is a huge BUT. As the book progressed, I kept waiting for things to develop. I waited for a revelation that would knock me off my wits. I waited for the mystery to unfold in a way I had never expected, for my mind to be ridden in a rollercoaster from which it would take me some time to recover. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

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Book Review: The Song Of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Book_cover_of_-The_song_of_Achilles- Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

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Book Review: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

 

 

Months of anticipation had gone by and I had finally put my hand on the much-awaited new book by the wizard whose Harry Potter series have become a self-sustained phenomenon, J.K. Rowling. I could not wait to see what awaited me in the 500 pages, and I dived in full weight into what now to me seems to be a decent piece of literature, yet also disappointing.

It wasn’t magic that awaited me in the book. It was the complete opposite actually. A world of politics and corruption, teenage sex and drugs. A world where magic is much needed yet never found. A world of extreme reality.

Set in the fictional British town of Pagford, the novel kicks off with the death of Council Chairman, Barry Fairbrother, and follows the aftermath of the seat “vacancy” on the council. The novel is written from the viewpoint of different characters, some perceiving the early death of Barry as a complete horror, some as an opportunity for claiming power, while others as a mere topic for little town gossip.

Written in the viewpoint of a multitude of characters (and at one point of the novel I had lost count and almost lost interest in the book as a whole), whose household holds a secret. We get to discover such secrets in such a matter-of-fact kind of way that Rowling never leaves us in shock, but in desperation to get to know more about the characters whom we grow fond of as the novel progresses until it concludes with us crying over the victims of a society we know not only the British are familiar with, but us as well.

When asked about whether I personally liked the book or not, I am in an immediate urge to say “I loved it”. But has it lived up to my anxiousness and my expectations? I dare say it hasn’t.

Extremely well written, with a style only a great writer like Rowling can manage, The Casual Vacancy is a social exploration of manifold dimensions. The extreme realism in the characters leaves the reader in total awe at how good Rowling is when it comes to characterization. Not one of her characters can be said to be good, or bad. Every single one of them is a multi-dimension of deeds and misdeeds, goods and evils, and every single one of them can honestly be said to be purely human, and this, to my own consideration is the only masterpiece Rowling has achieved in writing this novel. The excellence and brilliance of character portrayal seems to cover only a bit of the slow tempo of the plot which does not seem, even by the end of the novel, to conclude and give you the sense of closure.

The book not only lacks wizards, wands and dragons, it also lacks the kind of magic that some of the most realistic great books have. The kind of magic that makes you cry, and leaves you attached to the world you are about to leave once you’ve finished reading. It did not give me that urge to want to read more, or know more about what is to happen in the small town of Pagford, nor the urge to wonder whether a movie will be adapted and not even the urge to hug the book and sleep next to it, afraid to let it go.

I left Pagford without a glimpse behind. I closed the book after I had read the last page, and stared into my room, wondering when J.K. Rowling’s next book will be out. Because although disappointment was what I had found in the recently published book, I am a firm believe in magic, and that it will return in one form or the other in the words of this great writer.

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

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Dark and Twisted

I come to realize that I have isolated myself for the most part of my life. At first emotionally while growing up, probably because of fear of being seen weak, or probably because I simply could not open up to people because of a matter of trust. But over the years I have felt myself growing and maturing. But then I ask myself, am I really mature? Am I really grown up? If I am, how do I know it? When does one get there? Is it when you get rid of your impulsiveness and rashness? Is it when you become independent? I mean who set the rules about maturity and growing up?

In the few months that have passed I have almost literally felt myself growing out of my own skin. If I look back at last year I can see distinctly what a child I was, and I am sure in years to come I will read this and think of how childish I am being now. It’s a cycle really, you grow up, then you grow up some more, and you wonder if it will ever stop. But this time, I think it’s happening faster than I have ever wanted it to. Soon I will be expected to go back to Beirut, and I am expected to fall back into the frame I have been living in, and I don’t see myself there. I don’t see myself going out, getting drunk, and going to work hungover. I don’t see myself being the same person my family and friends have said goodbye to at the airport.

I have grown older, and I still feel like I isolate myself emotionally and detach myself from the people around me. And a conclusion I have reached lately is that probably this is the reason why I always fall in love with people who seem unavailable or unattainable. Sometimes, for like a few seconds I envy those simple religious morons who know nothing of life but to follow some rules that they believe will be their salvation. But the scary part is that when I really think about it, although it causes a lot of pain, I love how twisted and dark I feel myself sometimes. I have diagnosed myself as an emotional masochist. The more I hurt emotionally, the more I love it.

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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of having, or not having choices

Choices. When I studied Robert Frost at university, I was really into the whole existential ideas he proposed. I read Sartre who said: Man is doomed to be free. And let me say, I was kind of brushing the whole thing as bullcrap at the time. And yet, I remembered that quote, and I kept reminding myself of it for some reason.

Choices.

There comes a point in your life where you realize that everything you’ve dismissed proves to be factual. These could be fears, feelings for someone you never realized you really loved, or a simple quote you read in your university book.

Choices.

As I toss and turn in my bed trying to figure out some escape from the dilemma I’m living in, I keep pondering over these different tracks I have ahead of me, which to choose? Do I take the Road Not Taken like Frost did? Or do I go with my gut? But what is my gut saying?

Choices.

There was a time in our lives where choosing chocolate over biscuit was the toughest decision we ever had to make. We grow up to fall into the dilemma about what to wear, or how to cut our hair. We grow a bit more and bigger questions face us. Questions that would affect our whole lives. And at the slightest hints of hesitation, we turn our heads to the sky and curse our doomed freedom.

Choices.

I look back in forth, weighing all the possibilities, pros and cons. And hate this position I feel I am stuck in.  I curse my luck over my inability to make a decision, and wish for a way out of this. But then it hits me. We spend our adult lives fumbling and stumbling, just like the little kids we once were, trying to make the “right” choice. We hate ourselves, and some of us curse the skies for signs about what to decide. We ask our friends for advice, or whatever God we worship, to help us and guide us to the right path, forgetting the bigger issue, and the bigger problems of others, who by fate or circumstance, do not happen to have a choice. The athlete who does not have a choice to run because he lost his leg. The teenager who cannot choose to study because he has to feed his family after his father’s death. The children who cannot choose to eat because they were born in a starving village… And yet, we go on with our lives, cursing the drama of being unable to choose our major at university, or what job offer to take even though both present themselves as equally beneficial and both would lead us to a path we’ve always longed for.

I shut my eyes, thankful to have the privilege of being confused about making a choice, and I sleep.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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on the story goes…

I woke up this morning to hear devastating news. Legendary icon Whitney Houston, to whose music I had grown, had passed away. My eyes were in tears as I walked inside the classroom to careless students whose teenage recklessness would not understand the tragedy.

I told them of the news I had read online in my office before entering the class, but to my dismay, they did not recognize the name, and started asking who Whitney Houston was. I could not believe my ears.

After a succession of three classes back to back, I went outside for a cigarette where I started thinking about my students’ reaction to what seemed to me like and end of many things. Then I start thinking about how my life is changing. Just yesterday I was that teenager who could not give a toss about some singer dying. Just yesterday I was that kid in school who could not relate to his teacher’s grief; who graduated high school, discovered a completely new world, relationships and genuine friendships, discovered sex and alcohol without any thought of responsibility. Just yesterday I was the child of the new generation, I was young. Why do I suddenly feel older, and wiser with the mere death of a singer whom I’d listened to and admired my whole life? Am I now, suddenly, out of the territory of this rising generation, do I have to make way for the fresh, new faces of my students and others of their age?

All I know is that now, I am no longer the teenage student. Now, I am the teacher.

My life has been a manifold story of now seemingly meaningless laughter, and teenage drama. Filled with the insecurities and cockiness of a boy who was coming of age. A story of many chapters that seem endless with diversity, a story that I can easily write with infinite words. I know for a fact that today’s realization and pondering are just another closing of yet another chapter. And so I decided to write. I decided to start my memoirs, to remind myself that even though I am getting older, I will always be young through my words, and no matter how many chapters of my life come to an end, be they sad or filled with joy, this manifold story will never see its end, because try as I may to start over, or put an end to it, on go the days, and on goes the story…

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2012 in Uncategorized