Winning words on the way
Oscar fever isn't the only thing that's gripped us this month as another heated competition is about to come to a close. For the third year in a row, M magazine together with the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair has run a short story competition. For more than six weeks people of all ages - the youngest being seven years old - from across the UAE and as far away as Texas, Denmark and Pakistan have been sending us their entries. The winners in two categories (adult and children) from among the nearly 100 writers who participated will be announced on March 20 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre by the London-based Iraqi author and activist Haifa Zangana (who is profiled this week). The winning storytellers will be awarded an iPad - and the runners-up will each receive Dh1,000 in book vouchers. We congratulate them already, and thank all the authors who submitted their stories. And we look forward to publishing the shortlisted entries in M soon.
Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, March 15-20, Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, www.adbookfair.com, awards ceremony at noon on March 20 at the Discussion Forum
A book lover's paradise
There's something about second-hand bookshops that we book lovers are drawn to; they possess a certain quirky charm with all their different volumes, often with personal notes scribbled in the margins and pages bent over, all piled in maze-like rows. The joy is often in the poking around and stumbling across a great read. The House of Prose doesn't disappoint. It's stocked to the ceiling with thousands of books covering all genres, plus many new titles by authors such as Ken Follett, James Patterson, Stieg Larsson and Jeffrey Deaver. But the best thing about it is that you can buy any book at a very cheap price, read it, then either keep it or return it to get a 50 per cent refund. With another store recently opened at Dubai Garden Centre, there are now even more choices. Happy reading!
House of Prose, open 9am-8pm, Jumeirah Plaza, 04 344 9021; Dubai Garden Centre, for location call the Jumeirah branch
"I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!" Jane Austen wrote in Pride and Prejudice, and we couldn't agree more. There's nothing like curling up in your favourite spot, getting engrossed in a good book and escaping to an imaginary world. This hand-painted mug designed by the artist Emma Bridgewater perfectly sums up our ideal afternoon.
"Happiness" Mug by Emma Bridgewater, Dh105, Harvest Home, Jumeirah Centre, 04 342 0225
Bookcases are becoming the "it" furniture when it comes to interior design. No longer just a functional item, they are now works of art in themselves. This quirky Tower Bookcase is a new version of the Ptolomeo bookstand by the Italian designer Bruno Rainaldi. Anyone who recognises the name will know that this is the man who discovered a creative way to organise a lot of books within a small area - perfect for all our novels and magazines lying around. Available later this month, this striking glosssy red version will dress up - and organise - any home or office.
The Tower Bookcase in glossy red, Dh1,345, online at The Conran Shop from March 21, www.conranshop.co.uk
Six great spots to catch up on your reading
1. BASTA ART CAFE A sun-drenched leafy courtyard and a selection of ever-changing art on the walls make this a relaxing place to enjoy a lazy afternoon with your favourite book. Al Fahidi Street, Bur Dubai, 04 353 5071
2. SHAKESPEARE & CO Renaissance-looking couches and healthy juices are perfect with a good book. Central Market, 02 639 9626; Dubai Mall, 04 434 0195, and elsewhere
3. CAFE ARABIA The terrace makes a great reading spot, especially with some home-made cakes and spiced tea. Airport Road, opposite Mushrif Park, 02 643 9699
4. LE PAIN QUOTIDIEN This brightly lit spot offers delicious organic options and freshly brewed coffee. Ninth Street (off Najda Street), next to Nissan showroom, Vision Hotel Apartments, 02 643 0194; Mall of the Emirates, 04 341 0041, and elsewhere
5. ALMAZ BY MOMO This hidden gem (pictured), is tucked behind the homeware section in Harvey Nichols and is ideal for hearty Moroccan food, refreshing tea and shisha - great when paired with your current read. Mall of the Emirates, 04 409 8877
6. THE CHOCOLATE GALLERY Chocolate fondue and a novel go hand in hand in this spacious cafe. Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, 02 654 3333
Website of the week: www.goodreads.com
Where do you go to find recommendations for great books? We've discovered a social networking site for book lovers that boasts 4.4 million members who "shelve" books in categories: Read, Currently-Reading and To-Read, plus categories you create yourself. You can join virtual book clubs on all sorts of topics (we love "Food in Literature"), rate and review books, make recommendations to Goodreads friends and vote on lists such as "Favorite books from my childhood". Best of all, it's free!