An unexpected by product of this reading challenge is, I’ve been introduced to my story telling soul mate. Tahir Shah doesn’t know that we are story mates yet, but we are. I have no idea how I landed on the Caliph’s House book one lazy Sunday, but I’m now convinced it was some sort of divine intervention that brought me to it. There’s no way to explain it, but I needed to read In Arabian Nights to fully understand my own journey as a writer and dare I say it – as a travel writer. And to read In Arabian Nights, I had to read the Caliph’s House first. And maybe more importantly, about 31 years ago, I had to buy a copy of the 1001 Tales of the Arabian Nights at a garage sale and devour it in a single summer. Finding this story was a long time coming.
I have always been enchanted by the Middle East, Morocco, and Egypt. Something about these faraway mystical lands draws me to them, and time and time again I find myself reading stories about genies and mystics, caravans and crowded markets. However, I’ve never read a true story from one of those places that was as entertaining and gripping as The Caliph’s House. Tahir Shah shares his journey from London to Morocco, and brings us along for one heck of a year! Buying a house in Casablanca, working to restore it to it’s original glory, and dealing with jinns and jinxes along the way. I couldn’t put the book down.
Immediately after reading the Caliph’s House (in one sitting), I was sucked into In Arabian Nights, the follow-up. This book took my breath away. The idea that we are all born with a story in our heart and we need to find it, it just got me in the gut, and I’ve been searching for my story ever since. This book takes us across Morocco from the Sahara and Casablanca to Fez and Tangier – all the while sharing the value of stories as they are passed from generation to generation.
You already know I’m going to tell you to read these two books, if you love travel and storytelling you have to. It has been a long time since I said this, but Tahir Shah made a spot in my favourite writers of all time. If I’m ever asked that question about who I would invite to my ultimate dinner party again, for the first time ever, I’ll have a seat for a guy. (I’ve always picked women writers in that exercise).