The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. ~Dr. Seuss
I am currently reading “Please Look after Mom” by Kyung-sook Shin, the debut English language book by an acclaimed South Korean novelist. A habit I have cultivated over the past half of my life is to seek out books by authors writing about other cultures with which they have intimate knowledge or books written by an author raised in in another culture. I found reading these books exposed me to thought patterns other than those foundational to my upbringing, to thought patterns that challenged my view of how people around the world function, to thought patterns that challenged the foundation on which I viewed life.
This habit started when I discovered the Tony Hillerman mysteries while listening to National Public Radio. Tony wrote thrillers based on the Navajo people with the intent of his readers understanding the Navajo, a people he loved. I enjoyed reading fiction to learn about the Navajo and made it a point to devour every one of the Navajo based mysteries Tony created. In many of his books he used the same characters so the reader watches as they grow, as they develop over a long period of time, develop until they feel as if they are real people with real lives.
When my company decided to send me to India on a business trip, I employed this same technique to get a feel for the culture of India, to get an approximation of the mindset of people raised in India. I had a cultural training on working with the people of India which I found fascinating but found I wanted more, wanted more knowledge, wanted more understanding so I read a few different books by various authors. I am unable to determine how much these help me understand the people but I do know they were enjoyable to read.
The beauty of reading books by these world authors is that one’s understanding of the world, of the people inhabiting this planet, is stretched, is forever altered and that is a change for the better. The view I have of life is no longer looking at an image through a keyhole of my own culture. The view I have now is of life that is much larger, a view that is looking at an image through a partially open door. I can see more but still the view I have is partially obscured. While this partial view is better than the keyhole view, I am hungry to knock the door off it’s hinges so there is nothing obstructing my view.
The more I choose books authored from around the globe, the more the door opens, the more of the incredible beauty of this world is available to my eye. I will continue to make it a point to read world authors, read until the door is wide open, read until I have the entire world at my fingertips, read until I have a global view gained by looking through the eyes of world authors.