I think obscure philosophical literature could be considered a hipster pursuit.  (But it should be noted that the books I am interested in are actually quite well-known here, only in the US will reading these works further my hipster status.)  I have just completed Beirut Nightmares by Ghada Samman, a Syrian author with ties to Lebanon.  I got this book on my first weekend in Egypt.  I had been looking for an Egyptian author too read, but I couldn't find anything good in translation and ended up with this one.  I was not disappointed.  This 377 page book describes the narrators ten day captivity in her home in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War.  Most of the book is the narrators thoughts as she is trapped inside watching bullets and bombs destroy her home, and slowly consuming her limited water and food supplied.  It was by no means a quick easy read, but there was something fascinating about the thought processes of the main character who was a writer that promoted some kind of revolution, but now faced with actual war is trapped and cannot bring herself to bare arms.  Another key element is her recently deceased lover who preoccupied her thoughts.  The book is organized into over 100 "nightmares" that chronicle them main characters stream of consciousness, her escape attempts and visits to the nearby pet store, her sleeping, and waking nightmares.   Every once in a while a little nightmare chapter will deviate completely from the protagonist and highlight a random individual's situation in Beirut.  I think this book is very well written, and really enjoyed it.

Now, I am picking through stories of The Arabian Nights: Tales from A Thousand and One Nights.  This may have been obvious for everyone else, but I just realized that "thousand and one nights" is referring to the thousand and one stories that Shaharazad told each evening to her husband the king.  She always withheld the ending, certifying that should not be killed until she could finish the story, keeping her alive for a thousand and one nights.  It's interesting how stories about Sindbad and Aladdin have been changed in recent history for modern kids animated films.  The modern movies have a linear clearly outlined plot, and usually star an underdog who rises through the ranks.  Modern understandings of plot, values, and desirable protagonists don't always apply in the old versions of these stories.

To be perfectly honest, I am really only reading Arabian Nights to hold myself over until my next book, Azazeel by Youssef Ziedan, arrives.  This novel follows a Coptic monk in his life and travels in before the advent of Islam.  This book is supposed to be a pretty scathing critique of the Coptic church.  This book won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2009, and seems to be steadily gaining popularity in Egypt.  Though reading is not the most popular pastime here, this book has been suggested to be by several sources, and every bookstore I have visited has been sold out.  My copy should arrive in a week and a half.  I can't wait.  Hopefully, I'll have enough time to read it once my college classes start!

Also, completely unrelated: hipster glasses and messy hipster fros are taking over Egypt.  I not-so-secretly love it.

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