Whether it was through friends’ recommendations or just filled with the most eye opening analogies that would keep me up all night, here are my five reads you can find stacked in my dorm room
My favourite reads: Omnia Al Saleh
As I enter my 20s and prepare to graduate from university, I reflect on the five books that have spiked my imagination and my love for storytelling. Whether it was through friends’ recommendations or just filled with the most eye opening analogies that would keep me up all night, here are five reads you can find stacked in my dorm room.
Room by Emma Donoghue (2010)
Can you imagine a single room being the only world you know? This book captures the innocence of a 5-year-old boy and his perspective on the confines of his physical world. Jack was born into the room in which his kidnapped mother has lived since she was 19. Jack’s voice is one that I still carry with me even months after finishing the book. Donoghue fills us in on his mother’s sacrifices and their captor’s cruelty through Jack’s narration, dialogue and eavesdropping moments. Even now I can hear him chatting away.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (2015)
I’ve never related to a book in my life as much as I related to this one. Gilbert tells the true story of creativity, the messy angles before the beautiful. She shares pieces of her journey with creativity through her experience as a novelist and different encounters with friends. From childhood life lessons to mind-blowing analogies about creative living, reading this book will feel like catching up with an old friend for coffee and trading life stories.
The Crossing by Samar Yazbek (2015)
This book felt like reading into the diary of a courageous Syrian woman who has chosen to share her vulnerability with me. Yazbek recounts her trips back to the ruins of northern Syria in 2012 and 2013 to set up small women’s projects. She tells the stories of people who are living under siege and who feel like the world has abandoned them. The book carries endless accounts of bombing raids and the constant presence of death. “The only victor in Syria is death: no one talks of anything else,” she writes. “Everything is relative and open to doubt; the only certainty is that death will triumph.”
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult (2007)
This book’s emotions not only touched my heart but also gave me an insight into the different sides that one occurrence can have. Picoult tells the story of a high school shooting through the eyes of 17-year-old Peter who changed the lives of all of his classmates after being bullied for years by them. From a psychological perspective, this book will open your eyes to the destructive results of bullying which still remain a silent puppeteer of many minds today.
The Memory of Forgetfulness by Mahmoud Darwish (1982)
The sequence of prose poems in this book vividly recreate the agony of a city under terrible siege. In this book, Mahmoud Darwish uses the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the shelling of Beirut to reflect on the invasion and its political and historical dimensions. It tells of the role of a writer in time of war. Reading this book gives a Turkish cup of coffee the symbol of pain and courage. “And I want nothing more from the passing days than the aroma of coffee. The aroma of coffee so I can hold myself together, stand on my feet, and be transformed from something that crawls, into a human being.”
Omnia Al Saleh is an intern for The National. She is studying mass communications with an emphasis on journalism at American University of Sharjah