I like to read. I also like to learn. However, I have trouble reading books that are specifically trying to teach me, especially all this “you have to get up at 5am to be successful” stuff that seems so popular these days. It’s just not my thing.
Luckily, I don’t think you have to read non-fiction, or specifically self-development books, to learn about the world and yourself.
Since moving to Belgium, I have been participating in a book club. All expats. All women. It’s wonderful. I have learned a lot.
I’d like to share three lessons from (some of the) books we have read together in the last year.
Dune: Push past your comfort zone
My god I found the first 50 pages of Dune torturous. I was re-reading some pages 3 or 4 times just to try to remember who everyone was and follow the story. It felt like Frank (Hebert) was trying to make me feel stupid and confused on purpose and I did not appreciate it.
After that, I read the rest of the book in a week.
I realised that all that discomfort was simply because I hadn’t read something with so much “world-building” in a while and I was trying too hard to understand everything at once. As soon as I let go of that, I fell into the story and really enjoyed it.
I’m not saying you should try to finish every book (or anything else) that you aren’t enjoying. But I do think it’s important to take a moment to consider whether you might just be pushing your boundaries a bit and with a little effort you might discover something rewarding on the other side.
Frankenstein: You don’t know everything you think you do
I never really thought I had to read Frankenstein because I “knew” the story.
I could not have been more wrong or unprepared.
This book had me on the verge of tears multiple times. I thought it would be scary because, you know, there is a monster kind of central to the story… I was not ready for the absolutely heart-wrenching sadness in some of those pages.
To all my fellow sensitive souls out there, be warned, it is not an easy read.
So thank you Mary Shelley for reminding me that a surface-level understanding of events does not mean you have the full story.
Lattitudes of Longing: Diverse perspectives help you learn and grow
I consider myself fairly open-minded and interested in what’s going on in the world. At school I really enjoyed history and learning about how people lived in different times (and sometimes places).
I was theoretically aware that history and how we are taught it varies from country to country but Latitudes of Longing really exposed the limitations of the Imperialistic bullsh*t contained in British textbooks. It was both embarrassing and humbling to realise how limited my knowledge of India and its rich history and diverse cultures really was.
As a book club, we were able to have a conversation with Shubhangi (Swarup) to discuss the history and concepts explored in her book. I am very grateful for that opportunity and it gave me a lot to reflect on.
I would like to give a special mention to the book club itself. This group of book-reading women from all over the world continue to teach me many different things, both knowingly and unknowingly.