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Conscious literary choices

"All the reading she has done had given her a view of life they had never seen." Roald Dahl, Matilda

Regardless of our level of education, our profession, or our esteem of self, we can always broaden our view of life by seeking to see and understand other views. I believe that reading is the most accessible and sustainable way to do so. Through storytelling, we can learn about people we've never met and places we've never been. We can understand why history unfolded as it did and how to encourage or avoid reoccurence of such events.


Storytelling is a tool for an empathetic, caring world. I believe that to become better people in every aspect of our lives, we needn't read professional or personal development books. We need to read about other human beings! The seven tools to influence people or four tools for confidence in leadership are extraneous to our lives without a grasp on our own humanity, and that of others.


I believe that it is reading about other humans, their tribulations and triumphs that will make us more conscious and kind to those in our immediate circles, and around the world.


“Reading brings us unknown friends” – Honoré de Balzac

52 new friends.


I've spent the past two years reading, on average, one book a week. Most often, I'm reading memoirs or historical fiction written by authors who do not have the same background as myself. I am conscious of whose stories I read because I want to increase my awareness of self and the world, and therefore, I intentionally turn to those from whom I have the most to learn.


Ishmael Beah, Samra Hadid, Jesse Thistle, Richard Wagamese, Brit Bennett, Terese Marie Mailhot, Mary Lynn Bracht, Samra Zafar, Katherena Vermette - some of the few authors whose stories - rooted in reality or a world they imagined - gave me a glimpse into lives with which mine would never cross paths.


Through the pages these books, I've traveled to Burkina Faso in the 1990s, Korea in the 1970s, Japan in the Second World War, and into a futuristic, post-apocalyptic North America. I envisioned life in a concentration camp in Poland, a gulag in Russia, a rural Virginia town ravaged by the opioid epidemic, and on the streets in my hometown, Ottawa. I've followed the adventures of protagonists who were born in different countries, who spoke different languages, who dressed, prayed, loved, and lived differently than I.


Reading gave me a glimpse into the lives that are different than mine. In reading novels written by those who are marginalized in today's society, I've learn to see others beyond the stereotype which I had wrongly attributed to them. I now see everyone as the protagonists in their own story, and a fellow human being that adds depth, richness and vivacity to my own - even if only for a chapter, page or sentence.


I believe that being conscious of our litterary choices is imperative to becoming kinder, more compassionate individuals. The stories set in realities most divergent from our own are reminders that despite any of our phyiscal, cultural or ethnic differences, our humanity it is the common thread in each and every one of our stories.


J.

Here are four of my favourite novels from the past two years


A long way gone, Ishmael Beah

From the ashes, Jesse Thistle

Indian Horse, Richard Wagamese

We have always been here, Samra Hadid