[travel] Big, Bad Wolf in Dubai, UAE

*clears dust, coughs* Hello? Anybody out here? Oh, you’re still here!

I know I said I’ll write more often but I’m a lazy writer. There’s no escaping the truth.

But if anything, I’m a dedicated reader! Recently, I went to the Big, Bad Wolf book fair here in Dubai. Dubbed as the biggest book sale in the world, it boasts more than 3 million brand-new books from children’s books to your favorite genre fiction.

Honestly, being there is overwhelming.

Here’s the thing about me: I often get sensory-overload whenever I go to malls and markets.  I find it difficult to register everything at once so I kind of check out while walking. Just imagine how it is for me walking into big bookstores! Case in point: Kinokuniya.

Similar to Big, Bad Wolf, Kinokuniya is also a Malaysian brand, only it is a chain of bookstores. (These Malaysian’s know the value of BIG and BOOKS, no? Okay, that’s my last comment about this.) The one in Dubai Mall is known to be a cavernous space and elemental beings have been lost for days inside that maze. I assure you, it’s so easy to get lost in there. I, of course, did. Every time I step into that space, I just *throws brain*. Like that. Every time. A lot of times, the experience of getting into that bookstore is just a blur for me. Blurred background, white noise. That’s it, for me.

Big, Bad Wolf was almost the same. Almost.

When you enter the hall (which is almost two continuous warehouses, emptied and filled with tables and tables of books,) you will be greeted by chaotic stands of best-sellers. Or really, Oprah’s books. Multiple copies of a Jojo Moyes title. And then you enter the land of children’s books. There are pop-ups, activity books, and your regular story types strewn everywhere. And by everywhere, I really mean EVERYWHERE. You have to understand that guests have already plowed through these I-would-only-assume-to-be–once-meticulously-organized tables. Books are of course going to be strewn everywhere. There are a lot of parents and children here. We just ignored this section, to be honest.

(I really, really lusted over the pop-up books but they’re still so god dang expensive, even with the discount.)

So my friend and I headed straight to the fiction section. My beloved YA and genre fiction. Hearts and books emoji here.

It’s a little disappointing though because most titles are not exactly my cup of tea. Which, of course, is not a problem I am going to thrust into the management of the book sale. (Dear management, you did great – all things considered.) Most of the choices in the YA books are limited to a few authors. There’s not much choice in the titles, too. If you’re expecting a Scholastic book fair-level of organization and stocking, that’s not what this book sale is.

Okay, so going into the book sale I was resolved to only spend AED 100. That’s not a lot, but remember that this is a book sale: everything is supposed to be discounted. So if I did this well, I can come out with quite a lot of books.

Presented with literal mountains and mountains of books and paired with my sensory overload, I had to buckle down and set some rules for me.

  1. I will only buy The Raven Cycle books if I find them.
  2. I will only buy Gabaldon (or The Outlander series,) if I find them.
  3. Wuthering Heights!
  4. A Fairy Tale Retelling (Of course.)
  5. A romance book (Duh.)

In the end, I only got to bring home Wuthering Heights (in a spanking cute new cover!), a retelling, and some books that held me hostage. All in all, I stuck to my AED 100 budget (which makes me so proud of myself! What a great night for self-control!) and got to take home six books. That’s not too bad.

I know my bookshelf is a mess. As Mea once said, it could very nearly have its own moment. (Moment, as in the engineering sense.)

I had to wade in three different tables to find the Wuthering Heights in that cute cover before I found it. And the thing is, I’ve been to these three tables before I found it. The book was difficult to find because of the general chaos of the place, but also I think everything just blurs through my eyes. I was thinking the whole time, “Ah, something would probably look familiar to me and then I’ll get that.” But that’s just probably how everyone is though? Like, all choices are a blur until you see something that makes sense, even when you’re not really looking for it?

One of the beef I have with the organizers though is how there are only two tables for romance books, and even then the choices are only chick lit and women’s fic, which yes, okay they are romance. But that’s horribly under-representative of the whole spectrum of romance! There’s not a lot of Historical Romance, which I expected there should be quite a lot because they are usually the mains of book sales. Not a lot of contemporary titles too. There is one Maya Banks title, so that’s a plus, I guess.

For the science fiction and fantasy tables, there are quite a few good titles too. I feel like there are at least a couple of interesting titles that will pique the attention of the discerning sci-fi aficionado. It’s a little enviable, for me as a romance reader. Also! There are sets of books offered at discounted prices! But these are the Coelho books. I wonder how it could have been if there are also sets of romance books: the Bridgertons, perhaps. This is a fucking cash cow and no one is doing anything to sell them in complete sets. Why is that, my friend?

Anywho, Big, Bad Wolf was an amazing sensory overload. I’d go again if I have the resources (dirhams.) But as a trash slowly trying to pick me up, alas. It is not meant to be for now. It has been fun, though. Obviously not a lot of pictures, because when you’re there, who has time to take pictures?


Directions: If you’re in Dubai and would like to visit this monstrous book sale, head on to Mall of the Emirates Bus Station. Take the F30 bus and alight at the Studio City stop. Walk straight ahead, past two roundabouts and an intersection then take a left. The warehouse is the first building past the parking lot. (Although I did hear F30 now stops exactly at the venue. I’m not sure! Don’t blame me if you get lost.)

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