Whatever the genre, I am drawn to books that inspire or teach me something about life and myself. Here are five books that have had an impact on me.
My favourite reads: Saeed Saeed
Whatever the genre, I am drawn to books that inspire or teach me something about life and myself. These are the five books that have had an impact on me either professionally or personally throughout my lifetime.
Hail to the Chief by Ed McBain (1973)
If you think you don’t like reading, it means you haven’t found the right book. Such was the case with me, till I discovered this gem in the school library. Released in 1973 as part of his celebrated police procedural series of novels, I remember being hooked by how “adult” the story was with its angry motorcycle gangs and petty criminals. This book set me on the path to becoming a voracious reader.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley by Malcolm X (1965)
In 2004, I dedicated six months to travel, and despite what I told everyone, I was overwhelmed. There is no greater clarion call than the autobiography of the late African-American activist Malcom X. He spoke of his experiences, joys and regrets and the responsibility of being a father and leader with such fierce eloquence that it deeply moved me.
How to Make Gravy by Paul Kelly (2011)
Paul Kelly’s memoir is a revelation. The Aussie singer-songwriter lays it all down in the book, the title referring to a much-loved song, and shows that the artistic process can be as exciting as it is mundane. Penning good songs is hard work, he explains. They need time, patience and living a life that provides you with something to say. A refreshingly honest change from some other memoirs I have read.
Heroes by John Pilger (1986)
This is the one that made me want to enter the newsroom. Iconic Australian journo John Pilger’s Heroes is about the little people, those unnamed figures you find in the back of blurry photos or documentaries who made a difference and even saved lives. From dissidents in the former Soviet Union, to the women freedom fighters in Eritrea, Heroes is about people making it in difficult circumstances.
The Millennium Discourses by Etsko Schuitema (2011)
A life affirming gem; the book is in fact a series of transcribed lectures delivered by a South African Sufi sheikh and business consultant on finding balance in our increasingly fast paced lives. There are no wishy-washy sentiments, the thrust of Schuitema’s message is for one to live in the present and to methodically foster new habits to achieve those goals.
Saeed Saeed is a features writer for The National