Why Read Books from Around the World?

/ posted in: Reading

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Whenever anyone asks me why I like to read books from around the world I always think back to this quote.

“Most often the parcel was posted in Stockholm, but three times from London, twice from Paris, twice from Copenhagen, once from Madrid, once from Bonn, and once from Pensacola, Florida.  The detective superintendent had had to look it up in an atlas.”

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

It is a throw away reference to Pensacola but one that highlights that there are people all over the world without the same frame of reference as an American like me.  I don’t live in a world where Pensacola is unknown but I’ve had to look up lots of other cities in books I’ve read.  It is good to see things from someone else’s perspective.

What else have I learned from reading books set all over the world?  Here’s a few things off the top of my head.

  • I have a basic knowledge of the English school system thanks to Harry Potter and every other book about British boarding schools.
  • I know the geography of Lagos Nigeria thanks to Lagoon.
  • I only buy organic bananas now after reading Banana.
  • I have a rough idea of what it takes to walk the Camino de Santiago after reading accounts of the pilgrimage.
  • I have an idea of the brutality of the war in Sierra Leone after reading Michaela De Prince’s memoir.
  • I know way more than I ever thought I would about Taoist mythology after reading Kylie Chen’s books.

Sometimes you read things that you may not like when you read books that are aimed towards a different audience than you.  That’s good.  It is important to learn to read a different opinion and analyze the strengths and weaknesses instead of having a knee jerk response.  Open your mind and see things from someone else’s perspective.

Why do you think it is important to read books from around the world?