BEIRUT: The ongoing revolution that erupted on October 17 conveyed the Lebanese people’s dissent and desire to eradicate the corrupt ruling elite. Many protesters come from a group of intellectuals with a passion for academia and reading, and Annahar asked a few to recommend the books which inspired them to fight for their rights.
Mirna Tleis, a literature cognoscenti who holds a PhD in comparative literature, told Annahar that her all-time favorite book is George Orwell’s ‘1984’. “Although some people may think the book is a cliché choice, I believe it envisions forms of dictatorship we all endure in one way or another,” she added.
Tleis then explained how the political fanaticism and unbounded devotion to a party that are depicted in the novel are similar to what people experience in Lebanon when they become fanatical about their political parties.
George Abou Mrad, a protester who’s been on the streets since the first day of the revolution, explained he was inspired to overthrow the country’s ruling elite by the ‘Hunger Games’ trilogy. “I was only 16 when I read the 3 novels but the social inequality, impunity, corruption, and tyrannical government displayed in the books made me become aware of how deprived we are as citizens in Lebanon.”
As for Lina Kurdi who is a high-school philosophy teacher, her inspirational book is ‘Fahrenheit 451’ by Ray Bradbury. “I always encourage my students to read dystopian novels that tackle injustice and tyranny to understand what their rights and duties are. This book in specific depicts a society where books are outlawed so that people cannot seek knowledge through reading.”
She explained that reading sets the mind free and turns people into better critical thinkers and analyzers, and ‘Fahrenheit 451’ is one of the books that will make readers crave for more while exploring the essence of democracy and dictatorship.
Furthermore, Jad Hazimeh who majored in political science told Annahar he was inspired by Julia Alvarez’s ‘Before We Were Free’. “This book opened my eyes to the nature of dictatorship as witnessed by a child whose family members are either killed, missing, or have to leave the country in search of a better life.”
He also recommended ‘Spoils of Truce’ by Reinoud Leenders, a book that documents the massive corruption that Lebanon witnessed after the end of the civil war.
Hazimeh notes that this book is perfect for protesters seeking to understand how corruption was and still is embodied in different sectors of the economy and government, as corruption and state-building emerged hand in hand in post-war Lebanon.
While reading can serve as a means of entertainment, it nevertheless remains one of the best ways for people to explore the nature of different concepts and realities.
It can liberate the mind from the chains that imprison it and that hinder enlightenment, thus turning the ordinary citizen into an intrepid revolutionary.
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