calm sea during golden hour



Why you should read multi-cultural books instead of American ones and how I started.

dihaan k

7/25/20232 min read

As the Online Age evolves, Generations Z and Alpha have grown up around electronics and the Metaverse. Reading is a hobby that has invariably become restricted to those who can and want to spend their time peering into the magical pages of a vortex that sucks them in. Those of us in the South-Asian countries who choose to read English storybooks/novels are inevitably met with only one choice: books by American writers: mostly Stephen King, John Green or the unfailingly chosen one by most teenagers: Colleen Hoover. While reading the books of those residing in the most prominent country in the world, it gets a little tiring after a while, at least, it did for me, which is why I chose to stray from the well-trodden path of many before me and choose to read German books.

The first time I got my hands on those gems was in Goethe Institut. I have been taking German classes at my school since sixth grade, and follow the Goethe Institut page on Facebook in hopes of finding anything interesting. Last year, while scrolling through their page, I found a post VERY interesting to me: they were hosting an old book sale!

Now, you’ve probably assumed what kind of person I am by the above sentences: yes, an irreparable bookworm who is very often labeled a nerd by my friends. I would never pass up an opportunity to get my hands on some of those invaluable German books. Before this, I had never read any book other than those written by American or British writers. I was so excited I made myself sick- Goethe Institut was shifting to another location and thus were selling their books at low prices.

How low their prices were I didn’t know until I got there. A huge, air-conditioned room, full of tables with thousands of books, filled with bibliosma, it was not very crowded with only a few scholar individuals rummaging among the tables. The books, to my utter shock and glee, were only 50 BDT each! That’s only 0.46 dollars. The more rare ones were 100 BDT (0.92 BDT). I was at the Institut for about 2 hours, and I ultimately made away with 27 books, which together, were less than 2000 BDT (18.43 dollars). I hauled them away in a carton, consumed them one at a time at home, and I’ve never wanted to revert back to American books since.

Their writing style is so fresh and minimalistic yet paramount that I couldn’t help falling in love with the books. A bibliophile + lectiophile, I reread them multiple times.

I wanted to share this today because I feel that to change up your perspective and read with a fresh state of mind, you should read books from multiple cultures and countries. French, German, Spanish, Dutch, etc, etc, these are most often translated into English for our convenience. While these books are harder to find, they’re like hidden gems, it’s like a personal triumph to read them knowing you’ve hunted them down like a fierce book-hunter. I suggest looking for them at foreign-language centers or international book fairs. It’s always good to change up your point of view, and whether you want to do that by reading foreign books or stepping in others’ shoes, it’s up to you.

(German books I recommend: The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books; Funeral for a Dog, Peter Camenzind)

I recommend you find some new books to read for a break. You need one.