While my favourite reads number closer to 50 than five, these titles represent the genres and ideas that have most influenced me in the English language
My favourite reads: Mina Al-Oraibi
While my favourite reads number closer to 50 than five, these titles represent the genres and ideas that have most influenced me in the English language. (I also cherish F Scott Fitzgerald’s works.) My library contains over 300 books – including a first edition of T E Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom. No e-reader for me.
Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson (1983)
Anderson builds a smart and compelling argument on what makes a community – and it needn’t be constrained by geographic proximity. He speaks of the role of printing presses in creating communities among those reading the same newspaper – he could not have imagined how relevant his theories would be to today’s social networks.
The Illusion of Return by Samir El-Youssef (2007)
For exiles, and those longing to return to a bygone era, this book captures the fact that physically returning to a place you long for, won’t take you back in time. This novella attempts to untangle the difficult emotions to letting go of people and of places. Set in an airport, a place of flux, the story unpicks the fate of four friends who flee Lebanon’s civil war.
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (1964)
This book is about Hemingway’s first marriage and the struggles young writers experience, but it is also about Paris, American émigrés, and the brief period between the two World Wars. It captures an era long gone, and is beautifully written. One challenge for the reader is to decide between the original and later revised editions. I prefer the original.
The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St Clair (2016)
For those blessed with vision, everyday life is made so much richer by colour. This brilliant book tells the story and history of more than 75 colours and shades – and how certain colours became associated with actions or feelings, such as white for surrender. I picked this book up for a class on ‘visual storytelling’ and I couldn’t put it down.
All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (1974)
I read this book before I started university, and it made me want to become a journalist. Minute-by-minute details of one of the most impactful jourrnalistic scoops – Watergate. The way the story is told as a ‘first rough draft of history’ makes this book a must read for those interested in journalism and American politics.
Mina Al-Oraibi is editor-in-chief at The National