I am a 21-year-old lady, freshly graduated from Faculty of Arts, Department of English Language and Literature, in Cairo University. I am fond of literature because for me, it is not only a means for escaping reality, but also for polishing my social, emotional and intellectual perspectives.
I fell in love with writing when I fell for a writer who left and gave me “writing” as a means of survival. Reading and writing are my survival kit; using them, I move on and express tons of feelings and tragedies.
Literature’s role is not to just sail you across the seven seas or take you for walks in Victorian times; that is, it is not here just to amuse you. If a piece of writing doesn’t teach and touch you, it does not fit into Longinus’ (writer of On the Sublime) definition of art; according to him, “When our intellects, emotions, and wills harmoniously respond to a given work of art, we know we have been touched by the sublime.”
Having said so, the following are literary works that I consider to be good pieces of art:
1. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (Non-fiction)
Unlike many idealist self-help books that only aim to force positivity on you, Tuesdays with Morrie offers advice and life lessons in a more appealing, authentic, and truthful manner.
Morrie says, “So many people walk around with a meaningless life…because they are chasing the wrong things.” The way you get meaning into your life is “to devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”
This description is not odd to us; we interact with people who seem purposeless, and sometimes, we even become so ourselves. In such a way, this book changes your view of the world around you.
2. The God of Hell by Sam Shepard (Drama)
There is a lot going on behind the title of this play. This drama is written by Sam Shepard, an American playwright, as a response to 9/11 events. Many of us will assume that he will criminalize all Arabs and grieve about deaths in that event. However, Sam Shepard criticizes America’s politics and its response to 9/11 with Iraq’s invasion; he discusses the unjust acts of his government and accurately demonstrates its flaws. In this play, Shepard shares new perspectives of American nationalism and patriotism.
3. The Best of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Mystery, Fiction)
You know you have read a good piece of art when you walk parts of it within you; parts that are inscribed in your mind and become a puzzle piece of who you are. When I read Sherlock Holmes, I was amazed by his intelligence.
A quote he said echoed in my head: “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” Applying this to every aspect in our lives; we tend to assume things and then search for evidence later, which is something this book brings our attention to in order to show that this method isn’t always the best one.
Your Own Fruit Bowl
As you might have noticed, the books I mentioned above come from different categories: non-fiction, drama, mystery, and fiction. Within each, there is a new gem to collect.Therefore, think of literature as a huge bowl of fruits, each fruit with its own taste. If you liked the first piece your hand grabs; it doesn’t mean you cannot grab another one.
If you like reading fantasy books, you don’t have to stick only to them. Explore new genres to know what it means to touch the sublime.
What are some books that have truly touched you? Let me know in the comments below!