04 May 2016

Reading Africa and the World

I recently heard this TED Talk and was thoroughly inspired by this woman's story of reading a book from every country in one year.

After hearing the TED Talk, I looked up her blog because I wanted to learn more. For example, how did she read that many books in one year? And how did she choose just one book from an entire country? And, of course I wanted to know: What books did she read from East Africa? I was totally inspired and fascinated by this project. (I just checked out her book to learn more!)

As I was poking around her blog, I found a post that mentioned an Africa Reading Challenge. Basically, a challenge to read 5 books from Africa in one year. Again, I was fascinated.

Most of the people who read this blog know that I am not much of a reader. I read only a handful of books a year, if I'm honest. It's kind of embarrassing, actually, considering that I am a librarian. I say only half-jokingly that I have a minor panic attack when a student comes up to me and asks: "Do you know a good book I could read?"

But, anyway...

When I do read, I am most often drawn to books about Africa or other parts of the world, which is probably why I've found both of these challenges so fascinating. Obviously from the title of my blog, I believe that stories are important. More than that, I believe that by learning the stories of people who are different from us, we will gain perspective and grow in understanding of the people around us. If we are willing to listen to others' stories, we learn from them and their experiences. I often say that if I don't immediately click with someone or if someone drives me crazy, I probably need to learn his or her story so I can be more gracious towards them.

I recently finished reading The Queen of Katwe, which was such a fun book for me to read since it's about a girl in Uganda. I currently have Congo: the Epic History of a People checked out from the library. But these different challenges have also reminded me the importance of reading about things and places I know nothing (or little) about. Reading about Uganda is fun because it's home to me in a lot of ways. But if I really want to grow in my understanding of the world, I need to look beyond what is comfortable and be willing to listen to the world.

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