Five must-read books that help shape the way we think about the world

Elyazyeh Alfalacy shares her five favourite reads, which come from diverse genres

Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak (2009)
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From books that gripped me from the start, to those that spoke to my soul, these are the ones that have shaped the way I think about the world. The list is compiled from various genres and includes a graphic novel, a play, a self-help book and a famous crime-thriller.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi (2000)

This autobiographical graphic novel chronicles Satrapi’s experience growing up during the Islamic Revolution, which utterly transformed social life in Iran. The powerful monochromatic comic strips depict the tragic effects of extremism and introduced me to a vital period of Islamic history, leaving me feeling enlightened.

Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak (2009)

Ella Rubenstein’s dissatisfaction at being an unhappily married woman in her forties leads her to take a job in a literary agency. Assigned to review a book on the Sufi mystic Rumi, she soon realises the storyline mirrors her own life and the experience of reading it changes her completely. It’s a story of love and spirituality that explains what it means to follow your heart.

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle (1997)

This is the kind of book that can be read again and again. In a world so fast-paced, we could all benefit from a reminder to live in the moment from time to time. Tolle breaks down traditional notions of how we perceive both time and ourselves, guiding us to a more joyful life experience. From the first chapter, this book will revolutionise the way you view yourself.

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen (1879)

Ibsen’s play is about the awakening of a middle-class Victorian homemaker. I was introduced to it by my drama teacher at school. It changed my worldview, exposing the injustices that women experienced. “I believe that first and foremost I am an individual, just as you are,” the protagonist cries as she struggles to claim her identity in a world that was carved out for her.

The Godfather by Mario Puzo (1969)

This classic crime novel tells the epic story of the Corleones, a Sicilian crime family living in New York City who become caught up in a cycle of brutality. The striking contrast between honour and tradition, as well as the violence that ensues from it all, is fascinating as you follow the lives of members of the mafia. The book’s twists and turns all contribute to a nail-bitingly good tale.

Elyazyeh Alfalacy is an intern at The National