Having a good book to fall back on is something I really appreciate, so what can be a better place to go to than the local library? Can you think of better symbols of democracy and peace than public libraries where books of all kinds can be borrowed at no cost other than taxpayers’ contributions?
I let myself be seduced by the cover. Then I take a look at the abstract, discarding what I perceive as boring after the first couple of lines. I go by feeling and I prefer paperbacks. I tend to fall for books with an exotic touch; the Middle east and Asia are recurrent themes – the law of attraction?
These past days I have been reading two quite different, yet complementary books.
The story of the very real Malala Yousafzai, the young girl who was shot by the Taliban in her home country Pakistan for being an outspoken ambassador of girls’ and children’s right to education, on the one hand….
…and on the other, the fictitious story of Little Bee, a young Nigerian girl whose life and future are thwarted by the oil conflict at the Niger Delta. That’s the power of literature. Not only does it take you to places where you have never set your foot; it also opens your eyes to things you would otherwise ignore. Thanks to the process of story-telling it does so in an enticing and non prescriptive manner. After all, innumerable generations of people have been nurtured with stories; in fact, what would identity be without stories?
What is great with literature though, is that it makes space for other people’s stories as well. By doing so it predisposes the mind and heart to facts and different realities, and not only to those facts and realities that have made their way into textbooks and the mainstream media.
That is why I firmly believe that literature should be very present in the school curricula; it is such a powerful tool for cultivating critical thinking at the same time as appealing to a large spectrum of emotions; the amount of literature we were exposed to at school was by no means sufficient.
Literature is subjective, that is what it is; and that’s, I guess, yet another thing you have to love about it. Unless you restrict yourself to a genre, you have the world laid out for you at an arm’s length.
It is no wonder that banning and burning books has been a popular pastime among fanatics, intolerant and lunatics ever since the invention of the written press.
Reading is so much more than just a source of recreation. It is a gateway into a better world where more people can live in dignity. When I read a really, really good book, I wish it could be taught in school. But don’t get me wrong, I think that less good literature, or even bad literature, also deserve a place in school. A good pedagogue can work miracles with both, exploiting their educational potential to the fullest.
Now I would like to know, what is your personal list of must-read books?
Books referred to in this post: