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As I wrote in my previous blog post, I'm looking to stay productive during winterim by reading a variety of books. My reasoning behind this is as follows; I need to keep my brain occupied so that when I return to school, the vast amounts of readings don't catch me off guard. Also, reading a variety of books on the Middle East will help me broaden my knowledge of the region, and will be helpful as I take more classes in the Middle Eastern Studies and Government Departments.

The truth is, I'm not an avid reader. When there are so many ways to absorb information today, staring at a page can seem less than ideal; however, books remain as one of the most efficient ways to learn about a topic. Something that my Israel-Palestine professor said to our class last term really stuck with me; he said, "Nobody likes reading. People like what they get out of reading." This changed my perspective and inspired me to read more; reading provides me with a sense of fulfillment because it is such a great way to learn more about the world.

The first book I want to read is titled A History of the Middle East by Peter Mansfield. Following the historic struggles of the region, it is a brief summary of the major events and time periods that created the Middle East as we know it today. Since I am taking MES 1.01: Introduction to Middle Eastern Studies next term, I'm confident that this book will really help me be successful in that course.

On a similar note, I'm incredibly excited to read The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East by Robert Fisk. This goliath of a book (1,000+ pages) is a detailed account of the contemporary Middle East, documenting the events of the last 50 or so years. Fisk was a foreign correspondent in the region and has personally interacted with many of the leading players of Middle Eastern affairs; I know that reading this book will make me a lot more knowledgeable about the region. 

Another book I picked up for the break is called Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline. This book, compiled together by multiple authors and artists, outlines the cultural reaction to the Syrian civil war; subject matter includes the evolution of political cartoons, creative expression, etc. It will be nice to get an artistic point of view on the conflict, as this is not a perspective I would typically explore in courses or other books. 

Finally, I want to read The Egyptians: A Radical History of Egypt's Unfinished Revolution by Jack Shenker. The book documents the events of the 2011 Egyptian revolution, a significant historical showing of Arab nationalism. Surely, the revolution will be an example for future movements in the region; therefore, an understanding of it will be very useful to me.

That was a ton of book summaries — you can probably tell I'm a Middle East nerd! I can't wait to get into some reading, and to share more about the happenings of my winterim.

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