Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

We have a library!

Someone asked me if we had a library here and the answer is THANK THE HEAVENS, YES. It's one of the perks of being attached to a university, I suppose. Going without fresh (free) reading material has always been one of the great hardships of living overseas. In Cairo, there was The Book Spot, which sold (and bought) used books in English and even delivered to your door. So it was almost like a small, mostly inexpensive library. But that's the closest I've ever come to being able to read something besides the classics while I'm abroad. Classics, because those are available for free online at And month after month of nothing but classics - even if it is Dickens and Hardy and Tolstoy - gets old.

So yes, there is a library here and it is gorgeous. That's it on the left.
The inside is beautiful as well, with wide spiral staircases and an open central area that cuts through all the floors straight up to the ceiling. And there are lots of signs reminding people to speak quietly, with a few rooms where talking is prohibited altogether.

But what matters, of course, is the selection of books. As expected (since it's a university library), it is quite heavy on the non-fiction side of things. Which is fine. I happen to enjoy non-fiction. And until my last trip to the library, I thought the only fiction in the library was restricted to three or four shelves I found on the second floor. But it turns out that there is a lot more fiction sprinkled throughout the library. You just have to look a little harder for it.

Of the books I look for in the library catalog, I generally successfully find about 1 in 3. If it's a new book, the odds are more like 1 in 6. But that's not bad - I'm talking about any book I plug into the catalog on a whim. What I usually end up doing if they don't have the exact book I want is going to where it would be on the shelf and seeing what books surround its hypothetical place. And then I read one of those instead.

So my reading choices of late are slightly more eclectic than usual, but I don't know that that's a bad thing. With a robust American public library at my fingertips I may never have picked up a lonely book like Killer Angels or Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. And that would have been sad because I enjoyed (and am enjoying) those books very much.

Of course, that doesn't mean I'm not making a list of all the books I can't get here so I can raid the public library when we go to visit family in the US. Any titles I should consider adding?

In Oman

O man.