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    Swap Your Hookah For A Book, Huh? New Baghdad Cafe Offers Literary Delights

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    A new café, which recently opened in Baghdad, is radically different from its competitors. It is notable for the fact that there is no shisha on offer as a matter of principle. Instead, there are the names of books on the menu pages, which can be ordered and read in a relaxed atmosphere over a beverage or snack.

    Located in Karrada, an upper middle class district of Baghdad, the "Coffee and Book" cafe represents a branch of the city library Adnan, which is situated on Mutanabbi street, slightly north of the Karrada. Thus, visitors have a huge selection of books available to them. Even if some of the books appear to be unavailable in the cafe, a courier can deliver them from the library just in a few minutes.

    The owner of the place, Yaser Alaa, told Sputnik that he had the idea of creating such kind of cafe for a long time. His main aim is to make reading popular among young people again.

    "Unfortunately, my financial situation for a long time did not allow me to realize this project. After my father, the founder of the Adnan library, died in a terrorist attack in 2007 on the same street where the library is situated, I gave myself a promise that I would continue his work and reconstruct the library that suffered in that terrorist attack. At the same time, I wanted to create something new, to return the status of an intelligent and cultural place to our district," Yaser explained.

    He is sure that hookah wastes people's time and does not meet the needs for relaxation. As for the books, people can easily get distracted from pressing problems.

    "A book can be lent for reading while on a visit to our cafe or it can be bought for a private library. I think that a mini-library should be in every home," Yaser told Sputnik.

    The use of books at the "Coffee and Book" is absolutely free. A visitor can get information in advance about the availability of desired books and reserve them through the Facebook page of the cafe, where updates in the library collection are constantly published.

    The project has caused a lot of positive interest among intellectuals and authorities, as it will contribute to the education of the population. During the opening of the cafe municipal authorities even said, "Finally, a café no longer will be a place for moral degradation."

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