A book lover in a world that shuns the word

A reader in a "readerless" society

I look upon my "reading wife" with some curiosity, and sometimes envy at the kind of novels she reads, and I don't mind telling you it is she who got me into the habit. She is the ultimate reader in our household, certainly among our extended family, and in our social environs.

I don't mean to be sexist but mine is a reading wife. She even encouraged me to read. She has no particular genre favorites, she focuses her eyes on anything and everything she can get her hands on. She is a strange one in developing her reading habits, since she is from an environ that is more interested in verbal communications and images rather than from that silent quirk one associates with reading.

She is an unrelenting reader in spite of the social ballyhoo that probably looks down upon people who read as "freaks" and anti-social though times are changing.

Reading is a global phenomenon, in Europe, the USA and Japan especially where everyone has his head in a good book, but this is not so in Jordan, or in the many different parts of the Arab world where I have also lived; but of course there are exceptions like Egypt and Lebanon.

I look upon my "reading wife" with some curiosity, and sometimes envy at the kind of novels she reads, and I don't mind telling you it is she who got me into the habit. She is the ultimate reader in our household, certainly among our extended family, and in our social environs.

This is because the reading culture or the book culture is not there to support her. She would almost munch through pages and myriads of words as in the example of Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth as if it is Turkish delight, oblivious to what is immediately going around.

She was socialized in a “readerless” society, but in books like Dreaming of the Bones by Deborah Crombie she has the tenacity to pick up novels that open her horizons and indulge in a literature taking her far from her roots of Arabic and Islamic traditions.

In between meandering with the house chores, taking the kids to and from school, cooking, cleaning, and taking them (and, occasionally, me) to doctors, she would always have a book in her hands no matter how boring or good it is, she makes it a point to finish it. The flow of her reading remains constant, a steady stream of picking at the words with her darting eyes.

She closes in on herself and finds, no creates, “reading time” to reading from anything like Fiesta by Ernest Hemingway, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and The 39 Steps by John Buchan. There is breadth in her reading, sometimes she might discuss with me, but most narratives, some that may wrongly be described as pulp, she leaves to herself.

She is putting all of us to shame, since words, pieces of writings, narratives is not on the hole in our blood, despite the fact our Holy Koran has instructed us it to read, and fathom knowledge to be able to understand different cultures because they are important part of the universe we live in.

She is a tease as well, considering herself as belonging to the highbrow, while we mere plebs have no inclinations to read and understand, preferring to be guided by our ipods, ipads, television, videos and film. When I shoot back that she too watches television, she replies that she is in favor of balance.

Despite this, she induced in me the pleasures of reading, I would at times force myself to turn the television off, or go to the bedroom, in order to flick the pages. By contrast however, hers is a balanced reading ‘diet’ which I would at times envy and slowly follow. Reading is a discipline, a mantle habit that is acquired and required.

She makes it a habit to read on the couch even while the kids are watching television, I have no idea of how she can actually become so consumed despite the noise. She reads in the bathroom at long and frequent bouts, reads in bed despite the fact that she hardly needs to be rocked to sleep late at night.

She started first reading in the 1980s when she came to England, with one of her first books being Spy Catcher by Peter Wright, after the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher tried to ban it. She decided to read the book because of the controversy surrounding it, due to the fact that certain officials said it compromised intelligence.

This was to be the beginning of a reading journey that took her to biographies, romance, fiction, thrillers and much more. Reading is a solitary, lonely, confining experience but for her a book like John Grisham's The Rainmaker , or The Partner was a delight, Stephen's Kings Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon kept her on her toes.

Because of the nature of our society, my wife's books' and readings never compromised her social commitments that stresses extended kinship.

She reads away from the prying eyes of her mother-in-low, my father, sister, and so on. Her reading is confined to our house.

Following Spy Catcher , she moved on to the works of the late Edward Said's including Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism , standard textbooks on post-colonial societies.

I bought the books to read one day, as I suppose many people do, but they ended up as decorations in what became an interesting English and Arabic book library. I complained I had no time to read, because of my other engagements. She would leave me to my complaints and keep reading quietly and flick through Anne Lamott's Bird By Bird , Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and Ian Rankin's Tooth & Nail .

As a housewife she is an ambidextrous reader, reading for knowledge, intellect, and sheer curiosity, to improve the agility of her brain and exercise her mind, and to simply enjoy herself, to relax, and lose herself in the beguiling narrative.

She was the one who taught me one can read books purely for enjoyment. It occurred to me then veteran readers start to accumulate “reading experiences,” becoming fluent in language and prose, which become essential when editing other people’s work.

My wife accumulated a rich reading experience, while her thought process became more methodical. Similarly, I felt my ideas, and the way I expressed them, were becoming more organized and systematic, as I read to improve the quality of my writing.

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Comments 24 comments

Noah Rateb 5 years ago

It's really impressive, the way you describe your reading wife, I think your wife is so lucky though she got married to somebody like you who really appreciate her and observe every and each move she is doing


Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

You're wife is to be commended. I admire her and how nice that you are able to honor her with this Hub.


marwan asmar profile image

marwan asmar 5 years ago from Amman, Jordan Author

Thanks, In through her I wanted to emphasize the importance of books and reading


Dee aka Nonna profile image

Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

This was wonderful. I think every person with an insatiable appetite for reading will both love and identify with your "reading wife"--I know I do. Thank you for sharing.


marwan asmar profile image

marwan asmar 5 years ago from Amman, Jordan Author

Thank you for the comment, appreciated.


b4murray profile image

b4murray 5 years ago from Massachusetts

Thanks for sharing...

It encourages me to read more.

If I can get off the computer lol! But reading hubs counts as reading, right?


marwan asmar profile image

marwan asmar 5 years ago from Amman, Jordan Author

Of course it does, thanks for reading


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

While you have shared interesting insight into the life you and your wife share as well as into the culture you live in, your last paragraph is especially enlightening. Perhaps you and your wife should coauthor a book about reading! :)


marwan asmar profile image

marwan asmar 5 years ago from Amman, Jordan Author

Cheers, suggestion appreciated


2besure profile image

2besure 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

I love the way you write. When I read your hubs, I feel like I am starting a novel! Reminds me a little of James Baldwin.


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 5 years ago from India

Your wife sounds like someone I would like! :)


marwan asmar profile image

marwan asmar 5 years ago from Amman, Jordan Author

2besure, I feel humbled about what you say, thank you.......but I am sure I am only an ordinary writer


Rasheed Roussan 5 years ago

Great piece Dr :-)


4seazons profile image

4seazons 5 years ago from Queens

Enjoyed this Hub. I also love to read. During summer vacations as a child I would take out the maximum numbr of books from the Library, only to come back days later for more. You are anything BUT an ordinary writer...will be back for more!


lcbenefield profile image

lcbenefield 5 years ago from Georgia

Reading this reminded me of my mother. She loves to read. The written word is knowledge and knowledge is power to her. She instilled the love of reading in me and my two brothers and now in her two granddaughters. Thanks for a great hub. Voted up.


marwan asmar profile image

marwan asmar 5 years ago from Amman, Jordan Author

Cheers. I wish my kids could hear you say that about knowledge is power and follow her example


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 5 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom

A very enjoyable read. I admire your wife. I have so many books bought that are half read or not even started. I feel inspired to at least set some time aside and read a little every day. Voted up and awesome.


davenmidtown profile image

davenmidtown 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

There is so many important aspects that reading brings to the reader. I grew up in a reading household and to this day I must read before I go to sleep. I bought a kindle last year from amazon and thought I would not enjoy it much because I enjoy the feel of a book in my hands...but I love my kindle. I try to encourage everyone to read. I appreciate that you would share this with us. I enjoyed this hub... it is another well written example of your work.


marwan asmar profile image

marwan asmar 5 years ago from Amman, Jordan Author

Thanks, yes, people don't read enough, if the kindle does the trick then why not.


davenmidtown profile image

davenmidtown 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

I do love my kindle... I love that it is 2 am and I can buy a book!


KeithTax profile image

KeithTax 5 years ago from Wisconsin

I have a reading daughter. She got the habit from me. We live in a small town. My daughter wore out the local library and engages another library to feed her habit.

Your wife is correct in finishing a book. A slow book sometimes has a rewarding ending. I read books to the end regardless.

It is good to hear you and your wife found the joy of reading books when your culture may not always nourish the idea. It is a beautiful club we belong to. The one where everyone is carrying a book whereever they go.

"Making time to read." How true that is.


marwan asmar profile image

marwan asmar 5 years ago from Amman, Jordan Author

Thanks Keith. Yes I wish I was like my wife who will read from cover to cover. If I can't get going in the book, I just can't but close it. I got English books, especially second hand, which I was surprised existed in this part of the world.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago

Your wife has definitely chosen well--to read is such a pleasure. I also like to carry books around and I can see why she loves reading so. Thanks for sharing the enjoyable read. Rated up.


marwan asmar profile image

marwan asmar 5 years ago from Amman, Jordan Author

Thank you anglnwu. Reading is indeed a pleasurable habit she says which is very true.

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