Tuesday, November 17, 2009

This way could be my book of days

The libraries and getting books in general in the UAE is Gerry's second question. A very important one, I might add, for a book-lovin' family like ours. When we moved out to Dubai, one of the very hardest things I had to do was to pare down the three stuffed-full boxes of books (one for us, two full of favorites for the kids) down to just one box. I mean, choose between The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham? The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Very Grouchy Ladybug? I did it, but it was exceedingly painful.

Once in Dubai, we quickly discovered how expensive books here are. They cost sometimes 3-5 times what they do in the USA. With my frugal little bargain hunting heart, I hunted down a used book store. With all the expats not only moving in but also moving out of the country all the time I shouldn't have been surprised that there was one. It's called House of Prose, a tiny shop, hard to find but packed with books. Mostly paperbacks, very limited children's books but fun to search through.

I no longer buy magazines, except for local ones, because they are ridiculously expensive, and hey, I can get my Real Simple fix online. Children's books, however, still gave me an pang. Kids need to be able to go to and browse the shelves and get what they want and not worry that what they want is a big fat expensive beautifully illustrated hardback.

After months here, someone mentioned offhandedly that there is a library at the Mall of the Emirates. Mike had taken to musing aloud about how soon I would fall into seizures from lack of library time (an almost-daily occurance back home) so now I was on a new quest to find it.

Here was the odd bit, though. (I mean besides that the library is at the mall...I get groceries at the mall too. Dubai is like that.) "Library" wasn't on any of the mall directories. The Mall of the Emirates isn't exactly small, so it took some doing, but finally after several attempts I found it outside on the second floor, which is called the first floor here (don't get me started) next to the community center. Probably the smallest library I have ever been in, entirely staffed by volunteers. For 150 AED a year you become a member of Dubai's Old Library and check out 8 books at a time.

So that's what we do. In addition, we still have online access to the excellent King County Library System so we upload books to the cute little Sony Reader I picked up this summer while we were back home, and that suffices just fine.

In the last year book stores have been cropping up here and there; there's Borders Books, and Kinokuniya, a huge bookstore, opened at the Dubai Mall late last year. Magrudy's is good, and joy of joys, an inviting new children's book store called Book Worm opened not two blocks from us. So, we are selective with our purchases, but pretty much set.

There are other libraries in Dubai, to be sure, but I'm content with what we've tracked down. Now, where is that nice hot cuppa and my book...? All set for quality time.

Thanks for the question Gerry!


Abid said...

Cool stuff! We were in Seattle two days ago for the weekend :)

As a first time visitor, I find it to be an amazing city, although too similar to Vancouver for my taste.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Librarian said...

Natalie, Thanks for the answer to my question!
That's so funny that you have a Mall library and even KCLS has some mall libraries! Even here in Federal Way. (It's only temporary.)
And the thought of having to pay to belong to the library... It's better than none though.
I'm glad you're uploading books from the library. Your reader sounds pretty cool.

*Paula* said...

Great question and I'm so happy to hear that you have found sources for books. That would be a BIG problem for our family too! The whole 2nd floor/1st floor thing is a Britishism ;)

Anonymous said...

Had to laugh about driving and looking at birds. I nearly ran off SR 900 today looking at a Red Tail perched in a tree-and that's in that wretched construction zone. Must be genetic.
Hope you're having a good time.

Jill said...

Oh... you had me at "hot cuppa"... I so miss the endless (and fantastic) coffee shops there!

And libraries... we have few of those here ... though the one inexpensive thing here are books... far less than in the States.

Though that's NO reason to be living here.. no reason at all!