Becoming a better human through reading
For as long as I can remember I have been a reader. Intentionally or unintentionally my mum shoved books down our throats growing up, so I started reading from an early age. I went from Enid Blyton to Jacqueline Wilson, to Sidney Sheldon, to the magical world of Harry potter.
I graduated into African literature in my teen years, and I fell in LOVE! And I am not saying this to be dramatic but falling in love is how I can describe the feeling I felt when I finished Chimamanda's “Purple Hibiscus’, or the belly of laughter that came out of me after reading Chinua Achebe's “Things Fall Apart”.
These writers are pretty incredible. They have a way of describing words that you literally feel; they write one sentence that changes the way you think about it forever. It's not always about understanding the meaning behind every metaphor but sometimes appreciating the beauty of the language and how it makes you feel. How could you not fall in love? but this story is not about how Chimamanda is the greatest storyteller of our generation but rather It’s really just how reading makes me feel, and how books have become my home away from home.
Books, stories, characters we will never meet can be powerful things.
- Reading fiction has shown me different viewpoints, and has shaped the way I relate to people. I think it is because literary fiction is just an exploration of the human experience. Stories have a way of exposing us to life that is very different from our own. I have experienced the world as another gender, ethnicity, culture, sexuality, profession, and even age. Stories have provided me with the opportunity to take other people's perspectives in a distanced way, serving as a playground to exercise empathetic skills. Stories can also inform people’s emotional lives. Storytelling, especially in novels, allows people to peek into someone’s conscience to see how other people think. This can affirm our own beliefs and perceptions, but more often, it challenges them. I have realized that is better to understand other people's truths that contradict then from what they believe in. There might be some truth to the beloved quote,
“ A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies”
2. Reading has helped me discover myself as a person. They say you are what you eat but I think it’s more appropriate to say that you are what you read. The more I read the more I am able to decipher who I want to be and the things I don’t like. I have discovered my preferences, peculiarities, and beliefs. I don’t think I am 100% certain of who I am as a person but reading has helped me understand my own mind. I have an entire shelf screaming who I am! Not too sound dramatic but… books enrich my soul, help me understand different topics, enlighten me, allow me to feel compassion for others, delight me, sweep me away, and allow me to relive history. Honestly, the joys of reading are endless. The act of reading has brought me comfort whether during a transitional stage in my life or during a global pandemic. Books have a unique power that should never be underestimated.
Written word is one of humanity's greatest gifts and I do not take it for granted. So I will leave you with this gift that keeps giving; 10 books that changed my life and made me fall in love with reading:
- Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
- Purple hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie
- Things fall apart by Chinua Achebe
- Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe
- Rage of angels — Sydney Sheldon
- The fishermen — Chigozie Obioma
- Half of a yellow sun -Chimamanda Adichie
- There was a country — Chinua Achebe
- Born a Crime- Trevor Noah
- Transcendent kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
- (Bonus mention) A little life by Hanya Yanagihara