Saturday, April 21, 2007

One Man's Library

I'm willing to bet that most of us are involved in a never ending struggle to find room enough for all of the books that we keep bringing home. We never have enough shelf space, closets are filling up, and books can be spotted all over the house. Don't feel too bad because you're not alone. Qatar's Hani Attayah knows just how you feel.
His private collection of more than 20,000 books, all stalked in the villa where he lives with wife, makes it one of the biggest private libraries in the region.

Hani Attayah works at the Ministry of Education as a supervisor of Arabic language curriculum and for the past 39 years he has been spending 40 per cent of his salary on books.

He brought a large part of his present collection from his home country Syria way back in 1968 spending a lot of money on transport.
...
The family moved to a bigger house-a villa with an upper floor-in the hope that they would be able to have more living space. "But that hasn't really happened. This house has also proved to be too small for the stockpiles of books we have," the Attayahs told Al Sharq in an interview.
...
Finally, Attayah has a word of caution for book lovers: "Do not lend books to anyone. They are never returned."

There are people who occasionally come to him looking for books, he says. They take them on the promise that they would be back soon. So far, no one has returned.
When does a hobby become an obsession? It's a fine line and some of us have been walking it for years. Has Mr. Attayah crossed that line by spending 40% of his salary on books and accumulating over 20,000 volumes? Maybe, maybe not. But he certainly proves that "book lust" is universal characteristic, one that knows no boundaries. And since he is fortunate enough to have a wife who shares his love for books, I have to believe that the sheer pleasure gained from his books is more than worth the cost and hassle associated with them. Bravo, Mr. Attayah.

7 comments:

  1. Wow! 40% of his salary is spent on books! Food and rent must be cheap either that they can't afford to buy anything else but books. Wow.

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  2. That figure makes me feel a lot better about my own spending on books, that's for sure. :-)

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  3. Sam, you beat me too it--I was just going to say, wow, 40% of his salary on books, that makes me feel a lot better about my spending on books, too!

    Interesting that he says never to lend books--I'm pretty selective in my lending habits, too, because you never get them back. But I'm constantly giving books away!

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  4. I give books away through BookCrossing but the amount of books I have lent to friends and never got back:(

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  5. Y'all are right. I'd rather give books away than to lend them out because I so seldom get them back...and when I do they often have been mistreated while away from home. So I prefer just to give them away right up front rather than risking any hard feelings on my part.

    I do have one friend who has borrowed a couple of books from me and returned brand new copies of the books because he felt embarrassed to give them back in the shape they were in when he finished them. But that is a rare thing, in my experience.

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  6. Ah! A man of my own heart. :) Rather than dwelling on the "40% of his salary," though, I'd rather dwell on the "20,000 titles."

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  7. Good point, Maryanne, but you have to admit that those are both awesome numbers. :-)

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