The Book Collectors: A Band of Syrian Rebels and the Stories That Carried Them Through a War by Delphine Minoui, translated by Lara Vergnaud

Syria has had much to lament in the last 10 years. Half a million killed. Half the country displaced. Cities leveled to dust. Ancient sites dynamited. A brutal dictator kept in power by Russia and Iran.

For a while, the small city of Daraya, just outside Damascus, was a bright spot. The rigid jihadism of ISIS that ravaged much of the rest of the country never took root there. Long known for its fertile land and sweet grapes, Daraya was an oasis of tolerance that blossomed during Syria’s brief Arab Spring. Daily life seemed freer than ever—protesters declaring, “We are your brothers, don’t kill us,” brought water and flowers to the soldiers staring them down—until 2012, when government troops fired indiscriminately on a funeral, killing 30.