My Book Buying Problem Is Not What You Think


All of us who love to read also love buying books that could be potential bestfriends for life. I know that I’m always looking for books to keep me warm inside, and the kind of books that I wish I’d never forget about. Sometimes this kind of goal in life leads to a serious book buying “problem”.

I’m sure you relate. Have you ever walked into a bookstore or logged onto Amazon/Wordery/BookDepository and ended up with a dozen books you had no idea you wanted so badly?! There you go! That’s exactly what the “problem” looks like, and it’s perfectly fine and there’s nothing wrong with it.

I wish I could truly relate to that. You see, in my life it’s a completely different story. I don’t get to buy books whenever I want and that’s the problem. I have enough money to help me expand my library and get enough books to last me a few years, but the books that need to be bought are out of the picture.

Here in Saudi Arabia we don’t get every other book in the stores. This is understandable because not everyone reads English fiction and so the demand is not high enough for bookstores to get shipments of latest reads and a diverse collection of books. It’s bad enough that whenever there are books shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize or any other prestigious award for fiction, we can’t simply drive to the bookstore and get the names on the list.

However, my attitude is a positive one. I am sure in the years to come there will be more people who frequent bookstores and hence help in raising the demand. Meanwhile, us avid readers and book addicts need to find other ways to satisfy our literary needs.

If you live in Saudi Arabia and you love to read, then here are some ways you probably get books:

  1. Hunting for your preferred titles in Jarir or Virgin Megastores.
  2. Buying them online and paying double because of high shipping costs.
  3. Filling up your suitcase with books in your travels abroad.
  4. Buying books at the airports you stop at.
  5. Got a relative who is flying in from California?! Send ’em the list!
  6. Spending hours on Amazon and Book Depository, adding books to your cart and never buying them.

Most of us go through at least one or two of those. Readers who prefer Romances by Nora Roberts or Danielle Steele will always find something at Jarir, and those who love Young Adult Fiction will probably find a book or two they want to read. But if you’re one of us, people who love complicated books that are not just about two people kissing, then you’ll have a lot of waiting to do because chances are what you want is not available. There is still a lot of good books to choose from, but really your options are limited. Did I mentioned they’re expensive?!

Lately I’ve been getting my books in the craziest ways possible. In July I ordered around 5 books that got delivered to my sister who was visiting family in India. Here she doesn’t live in the same city as I, so I finally got my books once I’d visited her in Riyadh.

Last month one of our friends was kind enough to ask me if I needed books. Of course I did! She understood the unavailability issue here because she herself loves to read. And she knows how much I love reading. I got books delivered to her and she’ll be bringing them back with her from her travels. Counting down the days!

My bestfriend sent a bunch of books for me from England. My brother who is visiting us from Malaysia was sweet enough to load them up in his suitcase to bring them to me tomorrow night. I’m thrilled and super excited!

Last night I ordered around 18 books that will be delivered to my older brother’s friend in India. My Dad is visiting the country in two weeks so he’ll be picking them up and bringing them back to me here in Saudi Arabia.

I love these book buying adventures! Yes, it’s frustrating to have to wait so long for a book – especially if it turns out to be meh after all that waiting (thankfully it’s not happened yet!) – but it makes me appreciate books and reading even more. I don’t mind going through a struggle in order to get the books I want. It’s totally worth it! To be honest, I’d rather wait than resort to read cheesy romance books or even ebooks.

I hope that this post helps you appreciate and love the bookstores you have in town. Or even the facility to place orders online without heavy shipping. So next time you’re off to the bookstore and spoiled for choice, remember that it’s a blessing!

I’m waiting for my next travel opportunity so I can scratch off some names from my To Get list!

Here’s my current read and the 70th book I’m reading this year:


If you enjoyed this post then you might like my Instagram account: @sumaiyya.books

13 thoughts on “My Book Buying Problem Is Not What You Think

  1. Aww babe your struggles both made me cry and laugh! It certainly sounds exciting. Looking forward to your rant on ya fiction. 😛

    1. Thank you! Book Depository is great – the typically take 3 weeks for the book to arrive, however one of my books wasn’t delivered though it’s been over two months. I’ve sent them a message but they’re not super helpful at the moment. I’d still recommend it because of the endless availability of new and old titles!

  2. I hadn’t realised how difficult it was to get the books you want in Saudi Arabia – we really are spoilt in the U.K.! It reminds me of the problems I had when I was younger trying to get books that were only published in America or Japan. I guess it is an excuse for you to travel and leave plenty of space in your suitcase to bring back books!

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