Working adjacent to the publishing industry—as we do here at Lit Hub dot com—can sometimes leave you feeling a bit cynical about the whole “transcendent power of literature” thing, so it’s nice to come across news items like the following.
A veteran of the brutal Syrian civil war has set up a book kiosk in the seafront town of Tartus, offering a selection of over 2,000 titles available for anyone who wants to take a moment to read; and if you read 15 pages you get a free coffee! Mohamed Zaher says it takes about $200 a month to keep the kiosk going, and he relies on donations from well-off locals.
The Syrian economy, unsurprisingly, is not doing well these days: with something approaching 90 percent of citizens living below the poverty line, books have become a luxury in day-to-day life, which is why Zaher—aka the Wisdom Seller—has become a popular regular stop for so many locals. As Ghada Aizouqi, 45, told Positive News:
There is a pleasure and a more personal feel to holding a book in your hands. This was made difficult as a result of books’ prices soaring in recent years, and I settled for digital copies. But since Wisdom Seller started, it has become a habit of mine to come here every other day and read for no less than an hour.
Yes. Books. They make people’s lives better!