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Inside Kawon Bookshop | © Gaith Bahdoosheh
Inside Kawon Bookshop | © Gaith Bahdoosheh
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A Book Lover's Guide to Jordan

Picture of Sahar Esfandiari
Updated: 5 October 2017
Literature and language has always been an essential and sacred part of Arab culture. To this day, poetry is used as a tool to preserve and pass down customs, traditions and histories from one generation through to the next. Jordan is no exception to this, playing home to prize-winning contemporary writers such as Elias Farkouh, Fadia Faqir and Amjad Nasser. If you’re a lover of literature in Jordan, there are several special spots you must visit during your time here.

Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation and Library

The Shoman Library located close to 1st Circle, houses an extensive collection of book titles from across all genres and subject matters. Visitors must have a library card in order to check any of the books out, however you are fine to enter the library freely as a guest and read to your hearts content until closing time. There is also a small Rumi cafe located on the second floor where hot drinks are priced very fairly, and be sure to keep a lookout for film screenings which are organised regularly throughout the year.

Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation, 15 Al Kulliyah Al Elmiyah Al Eslamiyah St, Amman, Jordan, +962 6 463 3627

Books@Cafe

Books@Cafe is more than your typical book store. Located in a renovated old building in the Jabal Amman area, this shop also doubles as a cafe in daytime and bar during the evenings. In the shop you’ll find a good mix of books from new releases to explainers on Jordan and language books for Arabic learners.

Books@Café Jabal Amman, ‘Umar Ibn Al Khattab, Amman, Jordan, +962 6 465 0457

Books@Cafe, Jabal Amman
Books@Cafe, Jabal Amman | © Salim Shadid/Flickr)

The Good Bookshop

The Good Bookshop is also located in Jabal Amman along Rainbow Street. With a friendly atmosphere and plenty of books to choose from, this is an essential visit for all book lovers.

The Good Book Shop, Halim Abu Rahmah St, Amman, Jordan, +962 6 461 3939

Rainbow Street
Rainbow Street | © Nasma Yaghi/Flickr

Readers Bookshop

Readers Bookshop is one of the biggest and most popular bookshops in Jordan. If you’re after a new release or more obscure title, this is your best bet.

Al-Maa Book Stall Downtown

Al-Maa is located in downtown Amman, just a stones-throw away from the Grand Husseini Mosque. From the outside, Al-Maa may look like any other book kiosk, but it is only when you speak to the owner, Hamzeh Almaaytah, that you realise how special it really is. His passion and enthusiasm for books and reading has made Al-Maa a centre point for all book lovers in the country. The shop holds about 2,000 volumes of books, with a further 10,000 stored in a nearby warehouse.

Kawon, Madaba

Kawon, or ‘Universe’ in Arabic, is truly a gem for anybody interested in books and reading. Established by Gaith Bahdoosheh as the first bookshop in the town of Madaba, the shop is home to books of every genre and classification. Kawon brands itself as being a socially active bookshop, establishing a space for people to gather, engage in dialogue and encourage reading culture in Jordan.

Inside Kawon Bookshop
Inside Kawon Bookshop | © Gaith Bahdoosheh

Books on the Road

Books on the Road is an initiative also launched by Gaith Bahdoosheh, who had the novel idea of setting up a travelling bookshop in his car to spread the love of reading around the country. You’ll see his vehicle parked in the areas of Jabal l’weibdeh and Jabal Amman, selling his books atop his car, ‘Nancy’. Make sure you stop by to chat to him and pick up a new book to read.

Books on the Road in Amman
Books on the Road in Amman | © Gaith Bahdoosheh

Art Gallery Libraries

The National Gallery of Fine Arts and Darat al-Funun both house excellent art libraries with extensive collections of books on art in the Middle East and beyond. Whether you are interested in a specific book or you’re just looking for a quiet place to read your own book, the inspiring artistic energy makes for the perfect reading environment.

Darat al Funun
Darat al Funun | Courtesy of Darat al Funun, The Khalid Shoman Foundation

Jabal l’Weibdeh

If you’re looking for a quiet, peaceful area to sit and read then Jabal l’weibdeh is a great place to cafe hop and soak up a book under the sun with a cup of coffee.

Mo’taz Sulaiman
Mo’taz Sulaiman | © Culture Trip