Reading has returned! A recent survey published on statista.com showed that people around the world are returning to the humble book while in isolation. In South Africa, 15 per cent of respondents said they were reading more books than usual; in China, the figure is 17 per cent, and in Spain as high as 20 per cent. In the UK, sales of fiction have risen by 33 per cent. And in the US, it’s even higher: 40 per cent of adults stated in a recent survey they were more inclined than usual to read books as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
In that reading has been proven to make us feel more positive, improve memory and empathy, help counteract depression and cut stress, it’s an ideal pastime during corona. And while digital ebooks and audiobooks also benefit the mind, body and soul, nothing beats curling up with the original. But when the postal service is a mess, and Amazon and Book Depository are having trouble fulfilling local orders, let alone those to little Mediterranean islands, how do you get your hands on a good book?
SOLONEION BOOK CENTRE
The Soloneion Book Centre has found a way. Although there’s no website to browse, the Nicosia bookshop is working overtime to fulfil up to 70 orders per day, delivering all over the island. “We’ll happily make recommendations over the phone, and we can send out photos of our shelves so you can pick and choose what you want,” says Soloneion employee Christiana Christou, who has also noticed an increased demand for both artists’ materials and puzzles. “But it’s the books that are, of course, our biggest seller – we didn’t expect to see such an increased interest, especially in certain genres.”
Children’s books are, Christiana reveals, currently far and away the most requested, closely followed by cookery, anything from the politics and history genre, self-help guides, and then fiction. “We’re also seeing increased interest in local authors. Though Cyprus is small, we have a surfeit of good writers, and it’s great to see so many people buying from local authors.”
The Moufflon Bookshop (based in Nicosia) is also seeing a lot of trade. “Our local orders have always been delivered island-wide, and we’ve definitely seen an increase since the start of the measures,” says proprietor Ruth Keshishian, who uses ACS, Akis and Travel Express to ensure her customers receive their books within the day.
Like the Soloneion, Ruth has set up a phone service. “Anyone who wants advice or suggestions is welcome to call and request titles; we’re available for phone conversations on weekdays, and will get your reading material to you as soon as possible,” she notes.
Amongst the Moufflon’s best-selling books from local writers are Stories of Famagusta by Dimitris Leventis (paperback, €12), the author’s recollection of growing up in the town (“a very well-written book, which translates beautifully to English,” says Ruth), and Between Piraeus and Naples by George Vizyenos (paperback, €18), a collection of short stories set in the 19th century, “a really wonderful read.
“We’re also seeing a lot of orders for both books on gardening and cookbooks,” says Ruth. “Local horticultural expert Patricia Jordan is selling very well, and we’re also finding that many people are wanting to try traditional Cypriot cooking.”
Six Cyprus bestsellers
THE SILENT PATIENT
“Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word…”
A psychological thriller, The Silent Patient is local boy Alex Michaelides’ effort. And what an effort it is! A New York Times bestseller, and an Amazon ‘Best Book’, it’s flying off the shelves, says Christiana. True escapism for rough times.
CYPRUS FOOD TREASURES
Looking for a good local cookbook? Try Marilena Joannides’ Cyprus Food Treasures, a compendium of mouth-watering recipes from the island’s best-known foodie. Billed as the “culinary gems of Cyprus”, this book covers everything from traditional pies to breads, meats, fish, cake and desserts. Learn how to bake a savoury anari cake, cook a traditional pork and beetroot dish, whip up loukmades, boil up a pot of trahanas, stuff a squid with rice and capers, and bake a batch of carob toffee muffins.
Over the past 16 years, Marilena has researched the gastronomic history and traditions of Cyprus; her mission to preserve the island’s culinary heritage. Whether you’re a chef extraordinaire or just an amateur enthusiast with time on your hands, her recipes are sure to delight.
“Once there was a girl who dreamed of touching the stars that shone in the sky. Once there was a boy who dreamed of flying like a bird, over the rooftops… Some dreams seem so impossible, no one believes they’ll come true. No one but you…”
A simply written, stunningly-illustrated effort, Children’s Dreams is perfect for the little ones. Aimed at ages 3 and up, it’s a gem of a book – perfect for bed-time reading and re-reading, and the ideal present for the kids in your life. Author Marina Michaelidou-Kadi’s simple words are brought to life by illustrator Daniela Stamati’s gorgeous, evocative artwork, and the words on every page appear in both English and Greek.
ODYSSEY TO THE HEART
“When an unemployed and divorced middle-aged man finds himself on an unusual train journey with a host of colourful characters, his conversations lead him to the realisation that he must change his entire mindset if he is to find true contentment.”
The premise of Odyssey of the Heart is one the reader can’t help but feel may be slightly anecdotal, reflective of author Thales Panagides’ own life. But the light narrative approach, first-person style, and simple chapters are made for those for whom books are more of hobby than a passion. If you’ve recently returned to reading, this is a good toe in the literary waters; if you look on War and Peace as an excellent beach read, it’s not for you.
THE LIVES OF OTHERS
“All human life is here – from a humble street sweeper to a former President, from a pig farmer to a millionaire businessman, from an LGBTI activist to a mystic who claims to have spoken to Jesus. World-champion freediver William Trubridge is here. Bestselling British novelist Victoria Hislop is here too. Some lives have been successful, others tragic. One man lost his family in the Rwandan genocide, another in the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.”
Another authorial Panayides is the Mail’s own profiler, whose The Lives of Others is a book for the true bibliophile. Over the past 10 years, Theo Panayides has interviewed more than 500 fascinating people and here, in one book, you’ll find the best of the best: 60 in-depth interviews which the isolated reader will devour.
IGNITE YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF
“It’s time for you to take your life in your own hands and make your dreams come true” says the author, who goes by the single name of Alexia. “The purpose of this journal is to help you find the strength, energy and motivation you need to discover your true calling and build the life you’ve always wanted.”
It’s a big promise, and we’re not saying one simple journal can deliver all that. But if you’re down and out with corona blues, this catalyst for introspection might just be the ticket. Billed as “a personal journal designed to guide you through self-discovery and help you unlock your real self”, this simple workbook poses the questions that get you thinking about your life: ‘What do you love most about yourself’, it asks, and ‘Who and what do you choose to forgive today?’
To order from the Soloneion, call 22 666799 between 9am and 1pm on weekdays, email [email protected], or message the Facebook page ‘SOLONEION BOOK CENTRE’. Deliveries are charged at 3 euros, and will arrive the next working day. Books are delivered to the door in central Nicosia, and by Akis Express (to a pick-up point) in all other areas of the island
To order from the Moufflon, call 22 665155 or 99 427629 on weekdays, or email [email protected] Deliveries to the door are free in Nicosia, and cost from 4 euros via courier to other areas. QUOTE ‘CYPRUS MAIL’ FOR A 30% DISCOUNT ON ALL ORDERS