5 Books You Should Read To Widen Your Horizons
The sky’s the limit when it comes to attaining new knowledge, experience, and interest through various resources in this day and age. Books, however, not only have the power to transport us to a whole new world and a new fantastic point of view, but they can also draw us back to reflect on our own lives while studying about others’.
Here are five book recommendations to lead you to this magical journey of widening your horizon.
1. Factfulness by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund
Source: Paula Ghete
“If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change.”
It seems easier to start conversations that have negative connotations these days. “Why is our economy getting worse?” “Why is our country not improving?” The authors suggest how our obsession with binary labels (black vs white, good vs bad) actually limits us from seeing the bigger picture when we just focus on two extremes instead of the real gap in-between, especially on the world’s economy. The book points out ten overdramatic instincts that prevent us from seeing the real truth of what is happening in our world.
When we instantly receive any information, checking facts through proven statistics and research and asking the right questions will enable us to develop a fact-based worldview. For instance, what is the most accurate yardstick to categorize rich and poor? How has child mortality improved throughout the years? Through a fact-based worldview, we can learn to see that the world is not as bad as it seems—and we can see what we have to do to keep making it better. You’ll be surprised to see that Malaysia is used as one of the case studies to prove that the world is getting better!
2. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
Source: One Little Library
“Ain’t about how fast I get there, ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side, it’s the climb.”
This is a beautifully written memoir of Murakami’s reflections of running and writing. The reason he started running was to make sure he could continue to write for a long time as he ages, and he only practices long-distance running. He later participated in marathons around the globe (including Tokyo, Hawaii, New York, Athens) which led him to meet many interesting people that helped him in his writing.
Murakami does not sugarcoat what it takes to be a successful writer in the long run. Drawing parallels between running and writing, he describes the act of finishing a book as manual labour that takes time, remarking that some young authors who started well ended up with “literary burnout” when their physical body slowly lost strength and vigour as time went by. The key point here is to keep our pace consistent in bracing different seasons.
3. This Is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin
Source: Urban Outfitters
“I can’t stop the feeling, so just dance, dance, dance.”
Have you ever wonder why different sounds sound differently to different people? Why do different singers appeal to a different audience? This book provides the answers to the above two questions while offering deep and intensive research on all things music-related! As the author is a musician and also a psychologist, his explanations offer a dual perspective with relevant examples from both fields. Listening to music is both a scientific and artistic activity, which explains why our emotions are heightened due to our brain’s activity response to music during the process.
You will be able to understand why we can categorize and remember endless melodies, lyrics, and voices throughout various stages of our lives. It is as if our brain is created for music memorization when we find ourselves instantly recognizing a song that holds a special meaning to us by just listening to the first three seconds of the intro! Be prepared to be enlightened on the technical elements of music and audio production too. Find out which grooves produce good vibrations and good vibes that make you want to tap your feet and dance!
4. For the Benefit of Those Who See by Rosemary Mahoney
“But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll learn things you never knew, you never knew.”
Based on the real-life experience of Mahoney’s teaching experience at Braille Without Borders in Lhasa, this book will enable you to have a vivid, close up encounter with the blind community. It also helps the readers to reflect on the prejudices and preconceptions towards blindness by various cultures and society, while increasing the awareness of providing equal quality education for the blind community across the globe.
One of Mahoney’s fondest memories was experiencing a blindfolding exercise where she was led by her blind students to walk around the street. She was impressed by how the blind students can confidently navigate their way in the city while she was the one feeling nervous! Also, while reading the raw, emotional conversations between the author and the students about their future expectations, you will be tearfully reminded that we should never take our sense of sight for granted.
5. How We Got to Now by Steven Johnson
Source: Dallas Marks
I’ll be there someday, I can go the distance
I will find my way if I can be strong
I know every mile would be worth my while
When I go the distance, I’ll be right where I belong
As you read this book, you can’t help but feel as if you are in a time-travel machine, getting a sense of how the modern technology that we enjoy today is part of a tremendous trial and error journey taken by many scientists and innovators of the past. This book contains detailed accounts of the invention process and how those innovators have gone the distance to make our life so easy and convenient today!
It is only by tracing the history and reason for the innovations that we can predict and anticipate the effects and outcomes of our inventions in the future. In this context, the hummingbird effect is used to explain how an innovation or a series of innovations is capable of generating drastic changes in different fields altogether at the same time. For example, without the invention of pendulum clocks, the Industrial Revolution would not have been successful to ensure that the factories were able to carry out their workload effectively, following a fixed schedule. One innovation has already been revealed here, so be sure to read the book to find out the remaining five innovations!
We hope you enjoy the above book recommendations and continue to be intrigued by the power of written words. “In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” – Mortimer J. Adler.