Explorer Mikael Strandberg

The value of books, new and old

Happiness is to wake up a Sunday morning, dizzy from worrisome thoughts from the day and night before, and pick up one of the loads of books you have next to your bed, and start reading and suddenly realizing you´ve forgotten all worries and suddenly feel full of joy, happiness and see no obstacles att all waiting ahead for you in the future!

The book I picked up this morning was an old book that I picked up back in the late eighties, which I then used for research to write a book about my 2½ years on a push bike from New Zealand to Cairo, The Arabs by David Lamb. A tremendous human being and journalist I came across the first time when doing research for a book after my 2½ years on a push bike from Norway to South-Africa. He had then written a, in black Africa a very controversial, book called The Africans. As good as his about the Arabs.

But the first book on the subject of Arabia I wanted to read, was however, Edward Saids book Orientalism, which has attracted extreme attention globally. I thought that would be a good introduction to this extraordinary subject called Arabia. What a bore! It amazes me that anyone can read more than a few lines before falling asleep. Written by a scholar, for sure. Yawn!

So this morning I started off instead with David Lambs book The Arabs, and he of course is a writer and a story teller and it is a great book. And even though, it is two decades since it was originally published, the book remains a lucid introduction to the main themes of Middle Eastern politics, history and social issues that most westerners find intractable. And, with a bokk like this, suddenly you experience that great feeling of learning and adding new insights into lifeto add to ones knowledge, a supreme feeling.

So, 50% of my research material is 20 years of age almost, but still valid, and I have picked up a lot of new books on the Internet, whose titles have been supplied to me by experts on Arabia, especially my new friend, the humourous Justin Marozzi. One of the more interesting books I have found was whilst walking into a second hand bookshop on Drottninggatan in Stockholm, just to get away from the cold for twenty minutes, waiting to meet my friends Anders and Solan, and then browsed through a section where they were selling books for 2 euro and found Raphael Patais book The Arab Mind! Excellent!

These are happy times, after all!

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