Tag Archives: Reading

Agada – The Only Bookstore in Acre

Inside Agada

Inside Agada

“Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.” 

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

This is the only bookstore in Acre. Well, the only real bookstore. The owner named it ‘Agada’ meaning ‘Legend’ in Hebrew, and legend it is. For keeping a bookstore in Acre IS legendary. Not long ago there wasn’t any bookstore around for almost two decades. It felt like I was living in a remote, god forsaken little village. I had to travel to other towns in order to visit a bookstore. Later I discovered that I could buy secondhand books online, from various bookstores throughout the country. Thus begun the rapid, increasing evolution of my book collection. Today I own more than 250 volumes and going. But nothing can compare to the exciting adventure of arriving at a real magical place, packed from top to bottom, with endless old books.

The owner of Agada

The owner of Agada

This man is doing the impossible – he keeps a bookstore in Acre. If we had bookstores instead of every restaurant or clothing store, we would be the city of books. Unfortunately, the locals don’t read anymore. His audience is Russian immigrants like himself and myself. The survivors of a communist regime, where ironically enough culture, education and books were the essence of a person’s life. The only ones who regularly consume literature are middle-aged, retired pensioners. The owner gets the goods from Russian publishers in Moscow. Those books are new and pricey but they are being bought nonetheless. He also buys secondhand books from locals and sells them for a low price. Books you’d never find anywhere else. In addition Agada functions as a library. If you buy one expensive book, you can then take another book for 5 ins, read it and return it and then take another one for 5 ins. But all this is not enough to keep the book engine fueled and running. To keep a bookstore in Acre you need the tough guerrilla reinforcement – guided tours. The owner offers tours around the country and abroad, for a reasonable price and flexible payment, otherwise unavailable to many elderly immigrants who don’t have a credit card. This is not just a bookstore, this is a cultural and intellectual center, the only place in Acre where true enthusiastic book lovers can interact.

The entrance to Agada

The entrance to Agada

I visit Agada once a month or more, to catch up on what’s new. The place is small and doesn’t have a great variety, but sometimes, if you’re patient you can find real gems. Agada offers classical literature, fantasy, poetry, art and crafts and how-to books, specialized magazines, dictionaries and encyclopedias. Also the store has the Holy Land souvenirs, post cards, calendars, gifts, gadgets, sports equipment and more.

Recently I have come across this splendid album series of art books and purchased the three about Russian masterpieces and artists. This subject is extremely hard to find in bookstores in Israel.

A set of books about Russian art, purchase at Agada

A set of books about Russian art, purchase at Agada

Many have tried and failed in keeping a bookstore in Acre, but this man has done it for some years now, despite of the great hardships and challenges. I can only offer him my utmost respect and strongest support in this endeavor, wishing him the best of luck and a bright bookful future. For his sake, and ours, the few readers of Acre.

Contact Agada bookstore: rash12@walla.com, a_skalt@mail.ru

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Howard Roark, Architect – a review on ‘The Fountainhead’

Howard Roark, via criticalissuesintheculturalindustries2.wordpress.com

Howard Roark, 1949 film, via criticalissuesintheculturalindustries2.wordpress.com

“To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That’s what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul – would you understand why that’s much harder?” 

Ayn RandThe Fountainhead

Not only is it okay to be different and to be an individual, but it is also a human need as necessary as breath – that’s the way it should be.

The plot is a marvelous fabric in the hands of Ayn Rand, in which she entwines her views and unique philosophy – the Objectivism. Her philosophy is stimulated by a deep admiration for the human kind. The fate of a person is to be happy. He achieves happiness by self-fulfillment, in creating and using his mind. Each person is an individual, each person is free, each person is talented, each person is valuable and each person chooses to direct his lifestyle to self-fulfillment or self loss.

via fhbs.com

via fhbs.com

Happiness lies within the person himself and in his productivity. There is no need to control other people or to serve other people in order to be happy. Logical analysis of reality allows the happiness to flourish in a person who lives for himself and not for others. If one follows that designation and maintains nobility of morals he is an admirable being. On the other hand, If he betrays himself in order to please others, and does not create anything, he deteriorates into a despicable, disgraceful human waste.

Almost unconsciously you compare between mediocrity and Howard Roark, a sublime, ideal representative of our species that throughout his life has remained true to himself. Howard Roark is a man as a man was born to be – a superior creature. He is driven solely by his desire for self-realization. Intelligent, independent, talented, sturdy in body and especially in spirit, he has his own opinion and the guts to stand by it, he is not affected by anyone, he doesn’t settle for anything less than exactly what he wants, he is his own master and does not take orders from anybody. Even when the situation seems lost and hopeless, he never backs down or hesitates. Even when it gets extremely tough, he doesn’t betray himself. He seems too good to be true. More like an overwhelming notion than a real person.

Rand tells the story of the various types of the human kind and interconnects them during the plot. The history of the characters gives a substantial depth and greater understanding of the main message of the novel.

Roark and Dominique, 1949 film, via listal.com

Roark and Dominique, 1949 film, via listal.com

Dominique Francon is Roark. Well, a female version of him. In a way, you can say that Roark fell in love with himself.

Peter Keating, Roark’s college friend, is a typical example of the mediocre. He is clay in the claws of the society that sculpts him to its norms. Weak-willed, spineless, servile, affected by the rest of the people and incapable of at least one single independent thought. He sells himself, his loved ones, the people around him. He’s jealous of Roark, and hates him on an instinctive level, without realizing why. Roark has never done anything wrong to Keating, on the contrary. Keating is so pathetic, he doesn’t even realize Roark’s superiority as a personality.

Ellsworth Toohey, petty journalist, is a person deprived of acceptance in society since his childhood, due to his sickly appearance and ill health. Society gave him no chance and turned him into a bad-to-the-core monster. A recipe for a ruthless dictator. Cunning, gifted in rhetorics and analyzing the human soul, he has enough brains to perceive the superiority of Roark and that he could never be like him. That’s why he hates Roark so much.

Gail Wynand, publisher of The Banner, complex and tragic. He is human with great faults and misdeeds. He is aware of the superiority of Roark and he admires and praises it. He is also aware of the fact that the same superiority could have manifested itself in him as well, had he the sufficient resilience to the pressure of society. He is an example of a potential superhuman, but one who betrayed himself and became another tool of society.

Man is a social being. He lives among humans and needs human contact and company. The most lone wolf still needs other people. But society naturally strives for uniformity, to homogenize all the individuals composing it, like it’s a key to its survival. When there’s someone that does not match the characteristics of society, an exception, a stranger who does not belong, he is scary, he is rejected and he becomes an outcast. This is what happened to Howard Roark, the only one brave and strong enough to stand alone against all the others. This constant pursuit of total equality limits the progress of the whole species. Every time there was a brilliant person in history, he was suffering, he was persecuted, he was an outcast, he was a victim on the altar of sacred and sanctimonious equality. There may never be complete true equality, because every person is an individual and not a robot on an assembly line. Instead of nurturing the uniqueness in each person, the intellect and talent of every individual, from birth he is forced into a prototype fitting the norms of society. Consequently, being lowered into an equal mediocrity and even lower and more dangerous places than that. This is Rand’s novel, in the love of the human individual, you and me.

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What I go for in a Woman | exactlymythinking

I saw this video on one of my favorite sites, geeksaresexy.net, and thought I’d share

Basically I feel the same way.  Not reading is pretty much a deal breaker for me.  I want my kids (if I ever have any) to grow up with a love of reading, and the best way for that to happen is if they see both their parents reading.  I already make bi-weekly trips to the bookstore, I want someone to share that with.

I own over 800 books. 819 to be exact and I’ve read 97% of those.  That doesn’t count the books I’ve read and don’t own. Reading is kind of important to me.  I just need to figure out how you meet other people who also enjoy spending all day in their homes reading.  Perhaps this is the answer (pinned from tumbler).

If I ever get up the courage, I’m doing this.

I also just realized when looking at the preview of this post, that I chose this theme because it looks like a leather bound book.  Yeah, I probably have an obsession.

via What I go for in a Woman | exactlymythinking.

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Trips For Book Lovers: Istanbul #1 | Bookworm’s Diary

“Whatever book you are looking for, the shopkeepers in this area will have it and best of all, their pricing is fair and sometimes a bargain. Many of the shopkeepers speak English and all of them know who has what and where to get several versions of the genre you are interested in. I started reading Turkish a few years ago and this is where I bought my children’s books in Turkish to read. If you are a book aficionado, you will LOVE this market.”

– Sahaflar Çarşısı: Traveler Reviews

via Trips For Book Lovers: Istanbul #1 | Bookworm’s Diary.

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DO NOT DISTURB! | Sheth’s Perspective


posted in Poetry by ShethP

Lights dimmed,

Book in hand.

Sitting in a cuddle,

In a faraway land.

Squinted eyes,

Clenched grip.

Pages rustle,

To the rhythm of lips.

Tensed air,

Heart beating fast.

Only thought is,

Who will last?

Nimble fingers,

Flipping pages.

Eyes darting,

Seems like ages.

Last chapter,

No words left.

Journey ends,

We sit bereft.

Regaining sense,

Back to reality.

Hungry again,

For such sensuality.

– ShethP

via DO NOT DISTURB! | Sheth’s Perspective.

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Ladies and Gents – The Bookmobile!

Acre Bookmobile, Israel

Acre Bookmobile, Israel

This is our local mobile library. Its aim is to reach distant areas in the town and spread the magic of reading among children of Jewish and Arab ethnicity, in a literary coexistence. It travels the town, stops and camps out in the open air with book shelves, carts, bean bags, matts, and other cultural activities – what a delight, just read!

Here are some astonishing Bookmobiles around the world!

Bookmobiles around the world

Bookmobiles around the world

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Ron McCallum: How technology allowed me to read

I have already spoke my mind about ebooks and technology when it came to reading in general and books in particular. In short, I simply detested every digital form of reading, and books especially. But when I came across this man’s story, it touched my heart so deeply that it made me change my one-sided outlook on the matter. I’d like to share it with you.

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Classic Reading | T Bar Heart

There is nothing like reading an actual hard copy, well-written old book. I love ebooks for air travel and other situations, but still love the tactile experience of turning well-worn pages. The look, feel and even the subtle fragrance of “real” books is satisfying and nostalgic.

via Classic Reading | T Bar Heart.

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Isn’t that magical how printed black signs work together and form an actual meaning? (or, My Reading History)

college library

The Western Galilee College library.

I was always encouraged to read at home. My mom read a lot growing up and she passed on her love of reading to me. I loved school and learning and doing my homework! I am such a geek! But a cool geek though.. I learned how to read Russian from my mom in order to read on my own the Russian collection we had at home.

I started to get more interested in reading in middle school and visited the tiny library there from time to time. Mostly I wanted to practice my English, I remember choosing the classics in English for beginners. In high school our small library had a little collection of art books that caught my attention. I was studying graphic design at the time and that department contained a collection of old album series of the greatest artists, It was an old edition from 1964. I was fascinated with that series of albums! I would visit our Public Library and go through the art books and at that time my friend got me reading the Dragonlance Chronicles Trilogy. Go Raist! It’s the only Fantasy I’ve ever read. All this time I wasn’t the most eager reader, I didn’t read a lot. Also, I didn’t have a substantial variety to be inspired from. Living in a small town I only had one small Public library and practically no book stores (the horror!). In the late 90’s, I still had no idea what internet was. But I knew I liked books, and that one day I’ll be able to afford the ones that I wanted most.

Later on, at the age of 18 I joined the army and didn’t have time for reading at all, but precisely then I started to collect. I was getting an allowance and I was traveling more around the country. Many times I got to visit Tel-Aviv. Tel- Aviv was like another planet on its own. Everywhere there were old, secondhand book stores. It was affordable, there was variety, it was exciting like finding a priceless treasure

On holidays we used to get these coupons and guess what I used to buy?…. The biggest treasure I got from the coupons was “Fantasy Workshop” by Boris Vallejo and Jullie Bell. I purchased it in another town of course. Still can’t believe my luck, cus it’s a process book, with sketches and everything. It was soooo expensive.

After the army and after working for another year I quit and began my studies in Graphic Design. Finally, I was exposed to a two story heaven on earth, the college library! Although it’s also small for a college library, nevertheless I got my inspiration at last. The first year was tough and left me no time to explore, but on the second year I’ve already examined what the library had to offer as far as my interests went. By the third year I was using books as a reference and idea generating tool for my projects. Also at that time I got to some more serious reading. Every chance I got, I would go to the library.


The widest book I’ve seen so far in person, 6” wide! Moses Sar’el’s collection, Western Galilee College library.

The college library literary changed my life. It contained something extremely special in it, a vast collection of a true bibliomaniac. That man was crazy about books! Everything worth reading, discovering, knowing, was of his inheritance. Most of the books in fact. A whole universe in one man’s private collection. His name was Moses Sar’el, he was a Sociology professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He bought the books in different old book stores across Jerusalem, throughout many years. Those book stores don’t exist anymore. When he died, in the early 90’s (his newest book I found was from 1993), his widow donated the collection to our college and thus freed the whole apartment that was blocked with books, even the bathroom! He’s one of the most influential non-existing people in my life. During my exploration in the library over 2 years, it felt like I was getting to know him, and I could even tell by the cover if that was Sar’el’s book. Most of his interests were dear to me as they were to him: art, especially the Italian Renaissance, ancient history and cultures of Egypt, Greece and Rome, ancient and classical literature and poetry, dictionaries, ancient maps and more. The widest book I’ve ever seen in person was Sar’el’s “The New Century Dictionary of the English Language”, about 6” wide. Many copies of my collection today are the ones that I encountered and fell in love with in Sarel’s collection. Thanks to him I discovered so many new worlds and started to develop my own little Bibliophillia. The amazing Time life series of “The Great Ages of Man” was revealed to me in all its glory, Ernst Gombrich’s “The Story of Art”, Jacob Burckhardt’s “The Civilization of the Renaissance”, Dante’s “Divine Comedy” with Duré’s illustrations and many many more.

After graduating college, very luckily I found work pretty soon, and about a year I was extremely busy learning the craft of dissecting graphics in the real world for print. I still could take books from the college library for the next two years, and I did.

About 3 years ago I’ve experienced a new twist of events by discovering a popular Israeli site of book blogging, much like Goodreads and such, only here I could also purchase secondhand books from all over the country pretty easily. Need I say more? And the binging began…..

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