"Syria's Secret Library: Reading and Redemption in a Town Under Siege," by Mike Thomson

In Daraya, a city devastated by Syria's civil war, a group of young men creates and operates an underground library that becomes a haven for the town's young people. Despite the intense ongoing fighting and inconsistent access to necessities like food and electricity, the keepers of the library maintain a bright-eyed optimism and a passion for learning.

Their stories — told by author Mike Thomson, who formed a friendship with the group over years spent reporting this story — are a window into what daily life is like for those caught in a vicious civil war. They will make you cry and sometimes even make you laugh, but above all they'll leave you inspired.

Lisa Bain, St. Paul

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