An English Literature graduate, the task of choosing just five texts was almost impossible, here is my selection
My favourite reads: Sanya Burgess
As an English literature graduate, I found it almost impossible to choose just five of my favourites. None of these books featured in my university course, but were chosen because of the influence they had on different stages of my life.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1866)
A book that drags you into madness, taps into the basest of human behaviour and follows a path of misery is a hard sell. But Russian author Dostoyevsky’s language and his unflinching portrayal of the human mind make for a searing read. His words transport you through St Petersburg, a grim Siberian prison and the unravelling of a man’s hubris. A gripping read.
Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)
What does it take for a mother to kill her own child? Beloved follows the story of Sethe, a slave who flees, only to be tracked by those seeking to reclaim their “property”. Rather than allow her daughter to grow up a slave and face the same horrors, she kills her. But Beloved returns as a ghost. Themes of identity, womanhood, race and what it means to be free are played out in striking prose.
Selling Hitler by Robert Harris (1986)
The discovery of Hitler’s diaries had the world’s press scrambling for the scoop and enormous sums of money were shelled out. There was however, as former journalist Robert Harris details, one problem: they were fake. The biggest con to hoodwink intelligent minds in press rooms around the world, this stranger-
than-fiction tale has to be read to be believed.
Safe Area Goražde by Joe Sacco (2000)
This graphic novel mixes reportage, memory, the visual versus the written and a critique of journalism in one text. Covering the Bosnian War, outsider Joe Sacco can be seen as a cartoonish character among his otherwise realistic drawings from his time on the ground interviewing villagers and recording memories of one of the bloodiest conflicts in Europe since the Second World War.
Mythos by Stephen Fry (2017)
A recent addition to my favourite reads, writer and comedian Stephen Fry’s immensely enjoyable retelling of the Greek myths and legends is marvellous. Witty and accessible, this race through some of the most and least famous tales from Ancient Greece is a great refresher or starting point for those who aren’t looking to invest time and effort in either Homer or Hesiod.
Sanya Burgess is a senior news producer with The National