In between car bombs and kidnappings, some Iraqis find time to visit a local bookstore reports the International Herald Tribune.
In the Dar al-Bayan book store, there are two kinds of readers: Those born before Saddam Hussein seized power and those born after. For Iraqis who grew up before the Ba'ath Party took power, "a time of cultural renaissance in Iraq" books on history tend to be the most popular. Asked who are Iraq's most popular contemporary novelists, a writer replies "the dead ones."
Children of the dictatorship, so to speak, born and raised under Hussein's iron grip, a time when most books were banned and many writers fled or were arrested and tortured, religious books are most popular. Some of the older generation worry about the younger, who were raised in a cultural drought. "They can read, they can write, but they can't understand. That's good for dictatorship and dangerous for democracy."