Tuesday March 21st, 2023
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The Story Behind One of Downtown Cairo’s Oldest Bookstores

This store dates back to the 1940s and boasts a story of art, history, legacy and devotion.

Farida El Shafie

Amidst Downtown Cairo’s cosmopolitan architecture is a bookstore that shelters stories of cultural fusions, ones that harmoniously blend Armenian with Egyptian heritage. Dating back to the 1940s, the Reader’s Corner is overseen and cherished by owner Chris Mikaelian and his family. What started as a bookstore that bore the translations, tabloids and tantalizing tales of its time, eventually morphed into a hub for frames and vintage paintings.

Mikaelian's story is one that speaks of the intertwining nature of art, history, legacy, and devotion. As we wandered around the bookstore, we were enveloped by the historical and traditional aura that permeated the space. Each and every piece had a unique story, and every title bore its own distinct history. It was evident that Chris held a profound appreciation for literature and the arts, and that his bookstore was not merely a commercial establishment, but rather, a reflection of his personal values and interests.

With open arms, Chris welcomed us, and shared the tale of every nook and cranny of the store with unwavering enthusiasm. His unyielding love for Downtown Cairo was palpable as he reflected upon the area's transformation over time. Despite the changing times, his appreciation for the space remained unchanged. He fondly reminisced about the days when the streets were teeming with people, vendors, and street performers, and how the area had evolved into the cultural and artistic nucleus that it is today.

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