#YMERC2020 January Part 1

Ahlan wa sahlan!

Thank you for joining in with us in the Year of the Middle Eastern Reading Challenge (YMERC).

As promised, I will begin each month with:

  • A book or two by a Middle Eastern author
  • A graphic novel by a Middle Eastern author and/or Middle Eastern illustrator
  • A new Arabic song to listen to throughout the month

At the end of each month, I’ll post:

  • My reviews on the books and graphic novels of the month
  • A Middle Eastern movie or TV show that I enjoyed that month

I’m really excited to share with you our FIRST ever #YMERC2020 titles!

#YMERC Book of the Month

Married to a Bedouin by Marguerite van Geldermalsen

This has been on my TBR list for some years now, and I’m excited to finally sit down and read it!


Where you staying?’ the Bedouin asked. ‘Why you not stay with me tonight—in my cave.’ He seemed enthusiastic. And we were looking for adventure.

Thus begins the story of how Marguerite van Geldermalsen—a New Zealand-born nursebecame the wife of Mohammad Abdallah Othman, a Bedouin souvenir-seller of the Manaja tribe, and lived with him and their children in a community of 100 families in the ancient caves of Petra in Jordan. Marguerite and a friend were traveling through the Middle East in 1978 when she met the charismatic Mohammad and decided that he was the man for her. Their home was a lofty 2,000 year-old cave carved into the red rock of a hillside. She became the resident nurse and learned to live like the Bedouin—cooking over fires, hauling water on donkeys, and drinking sweet black tea—and over the years she became as much of a curiosity as the cave-dwellers to tourists. This is her extraordinary story.

Get the book here.

#YMERC Graphic Novel of the Month

The Apartment in Bab el-Louk by Donia MaherGanzeer Ahmad Nady 


This ‘fabulous noir poem’ has been simply described as ‘the reflections of an old recluse in busy downtown Cairo neighbourhood of Bab El-Louk’ by Egyptian artist, Ganzeer. Cairo-based writer Donia Maher was first published in Arabic by Dar Merit in 2014, and then received the Kahil Award 2015 for the Graphic Novel Prize.

Get the book here.

#YMERC Arabic Song of the Month

One of my favorite Arabic songs recently is Nicolas Chalhoub – Sahar Sahar. What I love about the song is it’s so catchy – it’s more like a summer pop song to dance to, and the video features beautiful beaches and landscapes.

Nicolas Chalhoub is a Lebanese singer who’s been promoting LGBTQ acceptance. Recently, he married his Spaniard boyfriend in a ceremony in Spain, and it’s drawn the attention of many, considering homosexuality is still taboo in the Middle East.

Don’t forget to spread the word on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #YMERC2020

Note: I do not earn funds from Amazon or other links. I provide links to make it easier for you to find copies of the titles I mention.

3 thoughts on “#YMERC2020 January Part 1

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