In the spring of 1992, the city of Sarajevo was surrounded by nationalist Serb troops and bombarded with shells, bullets, and terror for four long years. Isolated from the world, Sarajevans found a refuge and a freedom that took them beyond their circumstances: they read, they wrote, and they survived. This paper examines how these activities impacted the mental, physical, and spiritual survival of Sarajevans during the war. Diaries, memoirs, personal histories, letter collections, and oral histories are analyzed for what they may reveal about the value of reading and writing during this time of crisis. What we learn from these accounts is that even during the most trying times, activities such as reading and writing give us a space for control and self-preservation. This paper strives to learn about the power of literacy and writing from those who faced adversity in war-torn Sarajevo.