root: س-ل-ل / noun / plural: سِلال / definition: basket
It’s been quite a few months since I told you about the useful Arabic books I have on my bookshelf. And while I’ve advised against overwhelming yourself with resources (advice mainly directed at myself), this hasn’t stopped me from steadily filling up my Amazon basket with exciting Arabic books I’ve discovered.
(It’s clear that my book vs. Nutella parallel in that post is less analogous than I thought.)
So for those whose bookshelves are still firmly attached to their walls and can handle the weight of a few more hundred pages, I thought I’d share with you some interesting books that might be just what you’re looking for.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to tempt you with the 30+ options that I have stored away in my basket—I’ve picked just five that I think Arabic students will find particularly intriguing:
1. Rooted in the Body: Arabic Metaphor and Morphology
Okay so this one looks really cool, and is great for learning by association as well as exploring—like the name suggests—Arabic metaphor, morphology, and linguistic embodiment.
I came across Rooted in the Body: Arabic Metaphor and Morphology quite recently when I read this interview with the book’s author and illustrator, Lisa J. White and Mahmoud Shaltout, respectively.
(Another notable thing for me is that they mention Metaphors We Live By, a book which provided the theoretical underpinnings of my Arabic dissertation. It’s a game-changing book that will change the way you look at language, and is amazing for those exploring Arabic metaphor.)
The book presents side-by-side mini essays and illustrations, providing visualisations of how core Arabic vocabulary is linked (in terms of the root system) to parts of the body. It’s seriously interesting stuff.
Here’s a glimpse of the book, taken from the article:
2. A Frequency Dictionary of Contemporary Arabic Fiction
Laila Familiar’s new book A Frequency Dictionary of Contemporary Arabic Fiction is perfect for those interested in or starting to explore Arabic literature.
It’s no surprise that an efficient way to learn vocabulary is to acquire the most commonly-used terms first—and while there are other frequency dictionaries for Arabic, this one is particular to vocabulary you’ll find in literature.
I’m very tempted by this one, I have to say.
3. Victims of a Map: A Bilingual Anthology of Arabic Poetry
I already own one bilingual Arabic-English poetry collection and it’s incredibly helpful to see original text and translation side-by-side.
Victims of a Map: A Bilingual Anthology of Arabic Poetry is another Arabic-English collection, but this one contains works from a variety of influential Arab poets.
If you want to get a feel for the beauty of Arabic poetry but don’t want to spend half your time looking up words in the dictionary, this is a great read for you.
(You can also check out #3, #4, and #6 in the Step-by-Step Arabic Literature Translation series if you want in-depth translations of poetry extracts!)
4. Arabic vs. Arabic: A Dialect Sampler
Anyone who’s remotely curious about dialects should start making space on their shelf for this reference book.
Arabic vs. Arabic: A Dialect Sampler provides common MSA words along with the Spoken Arabic variants in different countries/regions.
I’ve read a sample and it’s great for getting an overview of the variations, even if you’re not focused on a particular dialect.
5. Advanced Media Arabic
Maybe you’re at an upper intermediate or advanced level, and you really want to focus on media Arabic specifically.
Advanced Media Arabic looks like a promising source to boost your lexicon in this domain, which is useful for those thinking of media-related careers, or just those who like to follow the news.
And honestly, vocab is vocab. You’re going to encounter a lot of these words even if الجزيرة isn’t your go-to channel for binge-watching.
So which ones have caught your eye? Have you read any of these books before? If so, what are your thoughts?
Don’t forget to check out my other resource and reference posts, and let me know if there’s any particular topic you’d like to see on this blog next.
There’s a super interesting Arabic Observations post coming shortly, as well as a useful ideas post for university students studying Arabic. Subscribe to The Arabic Pages below so you never miss a post!
That’s all for today, مع السلامة!