Down in the basement of a bombed building in a heavily shelled area of Darayya there is a secret library. Around it, shattered buildings that were once homes and offices lie in treacherous ruins. No signs mark the presence of the library. Locals fear that Syrian government planes will bomb it if they find where it is. Because in a war zone, books are dangerous. While the streets above echo with rifle fire and shelling, below is a haven of peace and tranquillity. More than 14,000 books are stacked neatly on home-made shelves, arranged according to author and subject. They are checked in and out meticulously. Those within read quietly, drinking tea on comfortable sofas and chairs. A small oasis of normality in a country at war with itself. The secret library was the brainchild of a group of former university students whose education was interrupted when war broke out and was then ended altogether by the siege that followed. Teams of young enthusiasts regularly dodge snipers' bullets and barrel bombs to bring new books to the library. Darayya's secret library is an extraordinary place, but this book is about more than that. It is about the people for whom the library is a symbol of hope; ordinary lives in an extraordinary situation. It is easy to lose sight of the human face of those involved in a complex war - Syria's Secret Library will help readers begin to understand what it is like to live such a life; the library a symbol of ordinary people's determination to have a meaningful existence and to rebuild their fractured society. And through it all is threaded the very wonderful, universal love for books and the hope they can bring.