It was four months ago, browsing through a second- hand book fair, that a friend selected a book from a pile and said “this one is very good”. Yukio Mishima: had I heard of him? Maybe, but not really. After reading Confessions of a mask, I was surprised of how little I knew about Japanese culture. That particular book opened my eyes to a whole new reality that I had once overlooked.
Perhaps this is the best part about literature: you will always find new exciting things that remind you that there is so much you ignore. Especially whenever you step out of your comfort zone by seeking new authors from different contexts.
Think about cultures you feel very distant from, of which you know nothing about or maybe of which you would like to learn more. Instead of doing a quick Wikipedia search or watching a documentary, how about selecting a few iconic pieces of literature? Fiction is a great teacher as it allows you to immerse yourself fully in a whole different world, as if seeing life from the eyes of another. And it is not only about what the story is about but also, how it is told and the ideas that are behind; moreover, what is important to the one telling the story: what the characters eat and drink, how they feel or their perception of others.
So, next time you want to start a book, consider avoiding the safety of your favourite writer and pick instead a more adventurous piece. Have you read any Indian authors lately? Nigerian? How about female writers?
Reading is discovering.