If you’re looking for something to read at the beach this weekend, you’re in luck. I tracked down some of the most well-read Beirut-based (and formerly Beirut-based) ladies I know and asked for their top titles about life in Lebanon.*
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
Not about Lebanon, but Hem’s restless, raunchy, sun-drenched rambles around Paris and Spain with a bunch of expatriate misfits should be required reading for all travelers. I read it after I came back to London following a stint in Beirut, and the line about not being able to get away from yourself by moving to another country had new significance.
The Mara Crossing, Ruth Padel
A book of poems and essays on the theme of migration. Read “Ripples on New Grass” with some whisky and a view over Beirut’s rooftops.
House of Stone, Anthony Shadid
If you haven’t read this, you must, you must. And then go and visit Marjayoun and have a bit of a cry.
– Ellen Hardy, International Editor of Time Out
Stories and Scenes from Mount Lebanon, Mahmoud Khalil Saab
A rich historical novel written by a relatively unknown Druze writer and first published in ’76, this book focuses on Lebanon’s rural areas and village life. Essentially a collection of folk tales, it’s easy for Khalil Saab’s romanticism of Lebanon to rub off on the reader, and he makes a bold attempt to break down the post-civil war sect divisions.
Beirut, I Love You: A Memoir, Zena el Khalil
A book about the artist’s attachment to Beirut that I found in a library in Newcastle, UK, and read long before even considering moving here. Her portrayal of the city is so real that when I first moved to Beirut I felt as though I was moving through a city I had already seen.
– Natalie Shooter, freelance writer and editor
Lebanon: Through Writers’ Eyes, TJ Gorton and A. Feghali Gorton
It’s a lovely collection of different writers and mentions of Lebanon in their work, and it gives great historical insight into the country.
– Lucy Knight, freelance writer and radio journalist
Ava Gardner: “Love Is Nothing”, Lee Server
Though admittedly an emotional wreck, Ava Gardner was razor sharp, full of sass and had no trouble telling critics to mind their own business. Everyone has her own triggers for insecurity and frustration when living abroad, and this book is a well-written reminder to buck up and take the challenges like a foul-mouthed Hollywood star.
– MacKenzie Lewis, editor of A magazine, freelance writer and celebrity gossip addict
* With my own recommendation, for good measure
We’re always on the lookout for new book suggestions, and yours are welcome below.