Selecting books that could add vibrancy and years to your life

June 21, 2016

The heading to this post could initially be perceived to be misleading. It could also be misunderstood. This is not the fault of the writer nor is the deliberate choice of title intended to sow confusion and misapprehensions and misunderstandings. In fact, it is intended to help heal, build and cross bridges and invite others to join hands with those they opposed in life before. This title is, indeed a metaphor for all those familiar online self-help guides, tips and tricks and bestsellers which most of you should be familiar with by now.

Let’s start this post by elaborating on the motivations for using such self-help guides in the first place. The obvious reasoning is that you want to improve an area in your life. You want to make things better for yourself, improve your personal circumstances and, if I have this much faith in most of you reading this, you also want to invigorate your personal life by improving your surroundings which go beyond your private room and your home. Not only do you want to make things better for yourself, you also want to help others do better too.

But whether there’s ignorance or not is not important. Often the answers to your questions have been with you all along. It is a typical reaction to our innate human condition, a blessing, rather than a curse. That’s where these self-help guides, online or in print, really come in handy. Most of the time paragraphs are short and passages are easy to follow and understand. Also, given the multicultural universe we all occupy nowadays, consideration has been given to those of you who are not native English speakers.

There is no evidence of pretentiousness among the writers of these guides. Dedicated to their craft and their vocation to help others, they respect all their readers, no matter what their background or what language they speak at home. Think of this for a moment. Think how it enriches one’s life. In order to make a point or explain a concept so that it is understood by readers, writers of this nature will correctly use anecdotes or recreate scenarios.

The reward for you, as a reader, is that you can locate these images to your own, familiar surroundings. It is as though the writer was in your own backyard. You are never isolated or alone in this world and you never need to look at another country or town from a vast distance, unless, of course, it is relevant to do so. That being said, I am happy to tell you that I can now begin to wind down this post – it’s enriched me so far, didn’t think I’d have this much joy writing it today – by leading on to what I was going to suggest all along.

I begin this by taking another dig at how we can add vibrancy and years to our lives, this time not through self-help guides and online scenarios, which, by the way, can strain your eyes if you spend too much time poring over too much viral white space. So, those of you who are avid readers of both fiction and non-fiction might be able to relate to what I’m going to say next. Let’s use fiction. Why do we read it? Well, for one thing, it does help us to relax. It helps to take our minds off the daily grinds of our lives. Sometimes we want to read something fresh. Perhaps, even, we want to be inspired by a new voice.

To make such aspirations a realization, we also cast our minds (and eyes) to those who are different from us. Most of the best literature has been written in English. But, not all of us are native English speakers. So, whether we are fluent or not in this second (or third) language, we will invariably be encountering different cultures and voices, some entirely foreign to us and some to which we can already relate to. But sometimes we can still be guilty of prejudice in the way we explore our preferred genres. Take crime fiction and romance novels for instance. It goes without saying that most of us prefer love stories, but then the men in our lives would much rather stick to an exciting crime drama.

To add insult to this long-standing prejudice from our men, many of them stubbornly refuse to touch a new novel by a thrilling female crime fiction talent. They prefer their tried and tested crusty old detectives for some or another reason to do with their homophilic desire to bond with and relate only to men. Now, erudite male respondents here may just have a field day in responding to what I’ve just said. They’ll argue that by the same token, most of us won’t be touching action-adventure and geopolitical thrillers any day soon. Fair enough and all of that, but we could also just argue that our minds and thoughts are cast on better things in this world.

Let’s end this note with a flourish, never mind on a resoundingly positive note. For native English speakers, the realm of possibilities towards exploring what others are thinking and doing have never been greater. Today, many foreign languages, whether Latin or Germanic or Asian, are translated into English by expert literary translators and language experts, many of them, of course, highly intelligent and intellectual women.

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