This post is about a new years resolution that will hopefully widen my horizons: I want to read books from all around the world!
Have you ever been wondering why most education systems include mostly U.S. or U.K. books in English literature courses? I found it rather strange to see that my English course hardly covered any literature from English-speaking countries like India or South Africa. It even surprised me more when attending high school in South Africa, that the only book we worked with that was from the continent was Chinua Achebe’s well-known novel ‘Things Fall Apart’ from Nigeria. Other books were probably identical with what people in Europe or the U.S. would read. What about South African authors of color?
Our minds are framed very much by information that is fed to us in school and the ideas that are easily accessible in our closest environment. Often we absorb everything without questioning the content or the way some ideas are prioritized over others.
Books can help you travel the world and see everything through the eyes of another person! I asked myself: Why not try to search for books that widen my horizons globally, but also in terms of diverse perspectives? When reading Isabel Allende’s book ‘Maya’s Notebook’ about a young woman born in the U.S. with drug addiction who discovers her roots in Chile, I couldn’t stop reading!
For a long time I have never felt this urge anymore to keep a novel with me all day long to read wherever and whenever I could. I really missed this feeling! Suddenly, there was a story that really got my attention. ‘Maya’s Notebook’ was exciting, beautifully written and made me fall in love with Chile from a far distance. I felt close to the characters, their everyday struggles, even though I have never been in this country. I think it was a combination of me relating to the young woman exploring the history of her immigrant family and the excitement of learning new things from an authentic voice, a Chilean author… Now, whenever I hear or read about Chile, its people and its history, I want to absorb every information I can get.
I want 2017 to be colorful! Reading colorful books has to be part of this year, if I want to keep on learning.
I found some inspiration on the incredible blog by Ann Morgan ‘A YEAR OF READING THE WORLD’. She really went out of her way to read a book from every country in this world within a year! I totally recommend checking out her site for inspiration and a list of recommended books. Her drive to find translations from the most far away places is truly admirable.
The blog ‘Read Diverse Books’ is very helpful as a resource for finding diverse books in different categories connected to intersectionality. I do not only want to focus on books from other countries, but I want to read books written by authors of color, with disabilities, womxn… Nazahet Hernandez created a #ReadDiverse2017 challenge you can all take part in!
I hope you will also consider reading diverse books in 2017! Which books do you recommend?