Mobile Bookstore 'Turns Heads in Baghdad'

photo: Iraqi Bookish/Facebook

Ali al-Moussawi's mobile bookstore "is the latest in a series of efforts by the 25-year-old to share his passion for reading and revive a love for books in Baghdad, which was once the literary capital of the Muslim world but is now better known for bombs than poems," the Associated Press reported. He started in 2015 with the Facebook group Iraqi Bookish, and then organized book clubs, contests, signings and writing seminars held at cultural centers and cafes.

"I adore reading," said al-Moussawi. "I have long wanted to meet people like me, so I was thinking of creating something where all readers could gather at any time, regardless of where they are."

Eventually he opened a bookstand in a Baghdad mall, offering a delivery service, and that led him to "steering a bookstore on wheels through Baghdad's snarled traffic, past its checkpoints, barbed wire and blast walls. Security forces often insist on searching his truck, fearing it contains explosives, and parking can be subject to prolonged negotiations," the AP wrote. While al-Moussawi's business brings in up to $4,000 monthly income and he has hired four paid workers, "he must swap out his offerings depending on where he goes in the city."

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