My favourite reads: Abdullah Aldakheel

These grim stories all feature characters who have to show their mettle

THE MINDS OF BILLY MILLIGAN by Daniel Keyes published by W&N. Courtesy Orion Books
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Dark tales with horror and gory details have always been a favourite of mine, especially ones based of real-life events. Nothing makes you feel more alive than feeling afraid. In all these stories, the protagonists end up in positions where they’re vulnerable and have to show what they are really made of.

1984 by George Orwell (1949)

A recommendation to all the readers fascinated with history like me. Orwell wrote about a dystopian future he imagined and created Big Brother, where governments are with constantly watching their populations. Orwell’s depiction of the future is far from true, but definitely relatable. In today’s world we are constantly supervised, whether it’s by the CCTV cameras on every building or the countless controversies of electronic devices and social media accounts being monitored.

The Minds of Billy Milligan by Daniel Milligan (1981)

Milligan is the first person in US history to be absolved of major crimes by pleading multiple personality disorder. Milligan committed many heinous crimes, but after reading his story I couldn’t help but feel some empathy for the ill-minded. Billy takes the roles of over 20 different personalities that control his body. His personalities battle each other for superiority over Billy’s mind, making him take unnecessary decisions that pushed him to live the life of crime he did.

The Analyst by John Katzenbach (2002)

The story is about the life of 52-year-old psychiatrist Dr Frederick Starks, who is put to the test when one of his former patients blames him for ruining his life and swears not to rest until he has ruined his. He gives his psychiatrist an ultimatum: either play along with his games, kill himself, or witness the deaths of 52 relatives. Slowly, Starks starts to see his whole world crumble right under him.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (2006)

Margaret Lea, a writer whose past constantly haunts her, is summoned by Vida Winter, a writer famous for her works about her wonderful life stories, which turned out to be lies covering up an aching past. Vida, realising her days are numbered, wants Margaret to write her authentic biography. Margaret becomes a witness to the haunted house, distorted family relationships and the smell of the death lurking in every corner, kept my eyes glued to the pages wondering what’s next.

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Zarle Williams (1845)

The book is based on the events of the heroic life of Frederick Douglass. It is a wonderful example of the triumph of the oppressed against the oppressor. Frederick speaks about his experiences with different slave owners and their efforts to keep him uneducated. He believed the only way to be free is to learn and spent his entire life educating himself, although everyone tried to stop him. There is definitely a lesson to learn from, as he said himself, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress”.

Abdullah Aldakheel is an intern for The National. He is studying journalism and media at Swansea University


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