Curse of the Summer Reading List

Dysfunctional Literacy

He wondered why there was no Ernest Hemingway on the summer reading list (image via wikimedia) He wondered why there was no Ernest Hemingway on the summer reading list (image via wikimedia)

My oldest daughter received her school’s summer reading list yesterday, and she was not happy about it.  Her idea of summer is sitting around the house doing nothing until we take our vacation.  I don’t blame her.  I had lots of summer vacations where I sat around and did nothing, and that was before cable and the internet.  It’s a lot more fun to sit around and do nothing than it was 35 years ago.  But this summer, my daughter has another reading list.

“It’s my summer break,” she fumed.  “What is it about ‘break’ that they don’t understand?”

I laughed, not at her words, but at her level of outrage.  She has to read and complete book reports for a grand total of… two books.  Students are supposed to choose one from a…

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Cairo Bookstore Aims to Be a Place ‘Where a Book Can Feel Safe’


Bookstore owner and publisher Karam Youssef is at the Abu Dhabi Book Fair for the first time in 2015, and was scheduled to give a talk on “Sharing Experiences: Running a Bookstore.” Here, she shares some of the insights she prepared for her talk in a piece that — in part — ran in the ADIBF’s Show Daily magazine:

Photo from the Kotob Khan website. Photo from the Kotob Khan Facebook page.

Karam Youssef started out as a mass-media major at Cairo University, after which she worked for fifteen years with AT&T and Hewlett Packard. But all this time, she said, it was her dream to work with books. In a talk she prepared for the fair’s professional program, she discussed how running a bookstore is not just about selling books, but about building community.

Youssef first opened the first branch of her bookstore, Kotob Khan, a neighborhood in southern Cairo.

“It was my wish…

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when it was march

rachel eats


We live three floors above a Bar. A Bar in the Italian sense of the word, so a place with a bar at which you stand to drink coffee, or juice, or a fluorescent aperitivo. It is also a Latteria, so a place you can buy latte, milk. I tend not to drink coffee or buy milk at this Bar, which also has a disco ball. I won’t hear a word said against the place though, as the owner Franco, who leans up against the door or paces up and down the pavement in front, is very much part of our everyday life. He is friendly and weary, and I forgive him and his neglected coffee machine because I know he would rather be doing what he does after rolling down the metal blinds. I know because he tells me about his other life most days, I have…

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