The Book Collectors
- A Band of Syrian Rebels and the Stories that Carried Them Through a War
- Narrated by: Nikki Massoud
Award-winning journalist Delphine Minoui tells the true story of a group of young rebels, a besieged Syrian town, and an underground library built from the ruins of war.
Daraya is a town outside Damascus where the Syrian Civil War began. Long a site of peaceful resistance to the Assad regime, Daraya fell under siege in 2012. For four years, no one went in and out and aid was blocked. Every day, bombs fall on this place – where houses and families, schools and children are, now empty and falling to pieces.
And then a search party for survivors stumbles upon a treasure trove of books in the ruins. In one week, they had 6,000 episodes; in a month, 15,000. A sanctuary was born: a library where people could escape the blockade, a paper fortress to protect their humanity.
The library offers a wonderful variety of books – from Arabic poetry to American self-help books, Shakespearean plays to war stories from other times and places. The guests shared photos and stories of their lives before the war, planning to build a democracy and taking care of their community roots despite the land of shock. In the midst of the siege, journalist Delphine Minoui tracked down one of the library’s founders, 23-year-old Ahmad. Through texting, WhatsApp and Facebook, Minoui got to know young men who gathered in the library, exchanging ideas, learning English and imagining how to shape the future, even as bombs kept falling from above. By telling their stories, Minoui casts a distant, complicated war at once and reveals these young men as everyday heroes as inspiring as the books they read.
The Book Collectors is a testament to their bravery and a celebration of the power of words.
I love the book. It’s a great story and I’m glad to hear a small part of what has happened in Syria over the years.
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