As journalists, we’re constantly trying to winch words out of our minds, as if to liberate a story entombed in a big block of marble. Malaysian novelist and poet A Samad Said once described the painstaking and laborious journey of a writer, “Jika ingin menjadi seorang penulis, pertama sekali kena membaca, kedua kena membaca, ketiga, membaca, keempat membaca and kelima baru menulis.”
Most of the time, our impulse to write stems from the love of reading, for rapturous reading allows us to inhabit our other selves. We also read to get inspired, but surely, “inspiration” is too pale a word. We read because “books are a uniquely portable magic,” according to Stephen King. We want to tap into an author’s private epiphanies, to give meaning to the trials and triumphs of living, to get lost in another person’s world because in doing so, we find ourselves. We want to "disapparate" from our mundane Muggle world and plot against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named with Harry, Ron and Hermoine in the Gryffindor common room.
So, when Minister of Education Dr Maszlee Malik urged Malaysians to share their 10 favourite books through the #MalaysiaMembaca campaign recently (whose first Facebook post has garnered 6,700 likes and nearly 4,000 shares at the time of writing) to encourage reading, we quickly rummaged through our bookshelves to revisit some beloved titles which have helped us figure out our place in the world, navigate a relationship, fuel our feminist consciousness or just get through a tough period in our lives. Here’s our #MalaysiaMembaca list in no particular order. What's yours?