Monday, 25 August 2014

Home again.

And that's my last book on the original list I made for my Around the World trip. I read 54 books, well 51 read cover to cover and abandoned 3. I visited 53 countries around every continent, besides Antarctica. According to my little map on my list page, I have visited 26% of the countries in the world. Kind of throws it into perspective really when you realise that you have only visited a quarter of the countries, let alone scratched the surface of all the different cultures in the world.

Some of these books I have loved with every part of me, and suffered huge book hangovers after finishing. Others have been thrown across the room in disgust. One has even been turned into Christmas decorations as I decided it didn't deserve to be a book anymore. I have worked in a hospital in Ethiopia, visited another planet where the dominant culture is Caribbean, gone whale hunting in 1920s in the Faroe Islands, lived with an exile in Iceland in 1635, got involved in the most insane hockey game I have ever heard of with a family of Maoris, and solved murders in medieval Italy, 1970s Solomon Islands and modern day Denmark and Greenland, just to name a few of my adventures. I have also learnt I am not very tolerant of self-indulgent, old men who think they are incredibly smart or attractive or both, no matter what culture they come from. Particularly when they are neither.

Was it all worthwhile? Overwhelmingly yes. I do believe this is something that everyone should do. Maybe not 52 books at one go (who am I kidding, I got side tracked all over the place, including with other around the world books not on this list. That's why it's taken me 2.5years). Maybe in chunks of 5 or as you feel like it or one every few months. But we need to challenge ourselves to expose ourselves to different ways of telling stories and different styles and genres. But also it's a wonderful way of learning about different cultures, religions, political systems, even languages. And as literature helps you empathise and understand, I think this would do wonders for helping us to understand and empathise with other cultures in the real world.

Australia particularly, as much as we say we are a multicultural society, we are very sheltered in our exposure to other cultures that aren't within our own society and our own constructs.We should be encouraging everyone to read books from outside our own Anglo way of viewing things (including wanting nice, tight, wrapped up endings. Apparently that doesn't happen much in other cultures' writings), and to blow our minds a little. The world is so huge, and the least we can do is explore it from our armchair. I'll definitely be continuing my travels, so come join me.

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