Saturday, May 17, 2014

Challenge Yourself

Cough. Cough.

So... How you doin'?

Read any books lately? Yeah? Cool.

Read any books that blew your mind? Read any books that made you uncomfortable? Read any books that confused you? Read any books that you didn't like?

Yeah? No?

Well, here's something you should do. Find a book from another country and read that. Oh yeah, and it can't be a country that speaks the same language as you. That means that if you're an American, reading a book from England doesn't count. I want you to dig up a book written by a German, or a Chinese book or a Norweigan book. It can be translated into English. That's fine. It just can't be a book written in your language. The more recent the book, the better.

Here's the thing:

The world is big. There are a lot of people in the world. Those people can be roughly divided into cultures and cultures are often defined by a common location, time and language. What is normal and common and reasonable in your culture may not necessarily be normal, common or reasonable in another culture and, more importantly, what is normal, common and reasonable in one culture may not be normal, common or reasonable in your culture.

Still with me?

Let me boil it down. PEOPLE ARE WEIRD. You don't know how weird until you witness it and literature is a good way to witness what is going in at a given time in a culture. I'm not saying that one book will give you deep insight into how other people live, but it's a start. A book from another culture will give you new ways of looking at the world, new ideas of how people can act and think. The way a story is written and the kind of story being told will be influenced by the culture the author comes from.

If you're a writer, or even if you just like books, you should be reading broadly. That means you should read multiple genres, read fiction and non-fiction and read books from across time and from across cultures. Everything you read will teach you something new and take your mind in ways you might not have taken it all by your lonesome.

Okay.  So that's it. Go find a book and read it now. I'm going back to whatever it was I was doing. I'll catch you next time.

Happy reading.

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