The Hardest Advice to Give… And Take


root: ن-ص-ح / noun / plural: نَصائِح / definition: (piece of) advice

The hardest advice to give is probably the one that you have to give yourself—which is why I have (…reluctantly) forced myself to write this out and confront the truth eyes-to-screen.

Because while I can easily advise others not to overwhelm themselves with swarms of language resources, the fear of my shelf coming off of the wall under the weight is the main factor preventing me from buying those twenty-two Arabic books in the “Saved For Later” section of my Amazon basket.

Well, that and the fact that I halfheartedly promised myself that I’d get through at least half of the Arabic resources I am currently hoarding (*including, but not limited to: textbooks, novels, newspaper articles, audiobooks, television programmes, and reading resources still left over from university*) before touching another book.

Never has my self-control been tested like this before.

Although I could, perhaps, draw a comparison with my other major addiction—Nutella—from which I was grudgingly forced to recover in the face of a worsening hazelnut allergy to avoid an imminent reaction. Sad, but probably for the best.

Though I have no known book-buying allergy to steer me away from this obsession, the danger of drowning in resources, with the intent of immersion, looms perilously on the horizon.

Curbing the temptation gets significantly more difficult when you discover a bookstore with a colossal* section for Arabic-related books (specifically, Foyles on Charing Cross Road, 4th Floor—prepare to fall in love).

But there’s no need to discuss what I did or didn’t buy when I first visited the shop a few months ago. Or what I added to my Amazon basket when I got back home.

The point is: there’s a huge temptation for language learners to amass ridiculous amounts of resources—to the extent of focusing on how many things we’re studying from rather than how much we’re actually studying.

Yes, we need a range of input material. But we only need a small handful of different resources at a time to alternate between. For example, a textbook, novel or short story, and a podcast will often be more than enough to get all of the information that your brain can manage.

Because simultaneously studying from ten books will not only cause chaos on your desk and in your notes, but also in your mind.

And they may just bring down your shelf, too.

Does anyone else have the same problem with wanting every single language resource you see? Every grammar book even though you haven’t made it through the one(s) you already own?

Well, you certainly have my empathy.

And, for now, I am going to try to resist browsing for any more Arabic books. “Try” being the operative word, obviously.

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Bye! مع السلامة

* At least when you compare it to the language section in other bookshops, where you’d be fortunate to unearth a dismal total of five (mostly beginners’ level) Arabic books in some dark corner… pitiful.

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