Sure, we settle for the same old, same old day after day. After all, routines and procedures help us accomplish more. But what happens when our routines lead us to a place we don’t want to go? Find out how to escape today. #ownvoices #marginalizedvoices #amreading #books #culture #change

Sure, we settle for the same old, same old day after day. After all, routines and procedures help us accomplish more. But what happens when our routines lead us to a place we don’t want to go? Find out how to escape today.

Sure, we settle for the same old, same old day after day. After all, routines and procedures help us accomplish more. But what happens when our routines lead us to a place we don’t want to go? Find out how to escape today. #ownvoices #marginalizedvoices #amreading #books #culture #change

I Like to Settle Down with a Good Book

On cold winter evenings, I like to settle down in my comfy recliner and read a book. A mug of tea or decaf steams on the low table beside me, and I flip through pages at an astounding rate. My favorite form of escapism, fueled by favorite authors: Jane Austen, Melanie Dickerson, Kristi Ann Hunter, Jamie Jo Wright, Louis L’Amour (hey, I have varied reading tastes), Karen Whitmeyer, Abigail Wilson, Roseanna M. White, oh, I could go on forever.

Recently, I realized that when purchasing new books, I gravitate towards the same authors over and over again. After all, they feel like friends and family. The genres feel comfortable and cozy. I can settle down and drink in the entertainment without thinking. Just what a gal needs, right?

Wrong. The danger of my habit lies in the lack of variety. When I repeatedly read books that have main characters that look like me (well, I’m older), act like me, and think like me, I forget that the world has millions of people who don’t look, act, or think like me. And in the forgetting, I can fall into a rut of thinking that white makes right.

By reading books written by only white authors, I lose out on the perspective of multiple cultures. My brain falls into a trap that claims, “Everyone thinks as I do.” I feed the complacent part of me, and it lulls me into believing lies.

Dangerous Lies

I forget that even though we struggle financially, I have more wealth than three-fourths of the people in the world. Racism doesn’t make me pause when walking down a street or boil inside at petty acts of unfairness. I eat three meals a day and could probably live for three months off the food and supplies in my refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards. When I attended elementary school, everyone looked just like me, although I lived in the South.

Sure, we settle for the same old, same old day after day. After all, routines and procedures help us accomplish more. But what happens when our routines lead us to a place we don’t want to go? Find out how to escape today. #ownvoices #marginalizedvoices #amreading #books #culture #change

When I choose a constant escape into a world just like mine, I forget that other worlds exist. Worlds where girls wear hajibs, saris, or heirloom belts of beads. Worlds where children come to school hungry or don’t even get to come to school at all.

My cultural awareness atrophies and I settle even more firmly into my worldview. And as a Christian, that’s dangerous. I start to see myself as a benefactress who will spread her limited resources about to ‘help the poor,’ rather than a fellow traveler who can learn from the poor.

My cultural awareness quotient sinks. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it happens.

A simple antidote for all of us? Read books by authors of different cultures and races—fiction books, memoirs, picture books. Add variety to your TBR (to be read) list. Explore the world and all its nuances (both good and bad) through the eyes of people who have actually experienced it.

Don’t settle for normal. Taste and see what other cultures have to offer.

Don't settle for normal. Taste and see what other cultures have to offer! #ownvoices #marginalizedvoices #amreading Click To Tweet

4 Comments

  1. Most people do not really care,
    and even more don’t understand
    that when I came back from the war
    I came back to a foreign land.
    I thought that when I could return
    I could have and do it all,
    but while my heart in memory burns,
    America is at the mall.
    The things that I could not forget
    are here the stuff of silly memes,
    and a life that I do not regret
    is fading to the stuff of dreams.
    Back then, the Mick sang Paint It Black,
    and if I could, I would go back.

  2. I enjoyed your thoughtful encouragement to branch out in choice of our reading. Recently I have read some younger authors, but I could do more by choosing books from other cultures. (I tend to read a lot of historical books–just finished My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt.)

  3. Oh yes… I love this! (And I’m guilty of it more often than I like to admit!) I tend to listen to all kinds of music… and have all kinds of friends on social media… but I still have to be very intentional in picking new authors! Thanks for the reminder!!!

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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