I read a lot of books. And those books affect me in different ways.
I started to think about this after a conversation I had with my dad last week. He asked me, “Do you feel you’re becoming wiser, now that you’ve read a lot of books?”
“I guess so.”
“Do you feel happier?”
“Not really. You know, there are some things you’re better off not knowing.”
This is true.
I wrote a post about the books that I read last year here. Those books, and the books I read the year before, were pretty life-changing for me. Some shifted my mindset, some acted like an introduction and opened the doors to issues I wasn’t aware of before.
The One That Made Me Unhappy (But More Aware)
One of them is ‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg.
I think I’ve told this story over and over. But I’ll just write it again here. When I was reading the book, I was so overwhelmed by the injustice that women have to experience in their life.
I was furious. And sad.
I realized it’s not going to change drastically anytime soon. I realized I’m a woman too. I realized that my mom and my grandmas were going through those phases too in their lives. And millions of other women too.
It’s just too heartbreaking.
It’s like putting a new lens on. I started seeing things I didn’t notice before.
How my country is still patriarch. How women around me are treated. How certain words and languages are used. How they’re secretly degrading women. How women are expected to look and act and live their lives.
How I wished I lived in a whole other world, or time, where people are treated equally.
But Life Is Not Only About Happiness
I started reading about feminism. I followed the Indonesian Feminist and Asian Feminist page on Facebook. I started to consider myself a feminist.
When the #metoo movement started, I was aware of it. I started opening myself up to these new issues, new stories, that I know are always there before, but I wouldn’t notice if it weren’t for that book.
It’s certainly not a pleasant experience. I’m not becoming happier knowing all these facts and stories. But I believe I’m helping the bigger cause behind this. And it’s worth fighting for.
Some Liberated Me
It’s not all bad, though.
In Mindset, Dweck introduced the mindset that you should have in your life, the growth mindset, as opposed to the fixed mindset. With a growth mindset, you believe that you can learn ANYTHING you want (and it’s true!). The mindset that we’re taught, ‘you can’t do this’, or ‘you’re only talented to do that’, is limiting our own ability and confidence.
So she has convinced me to do the things I once feared to do, just because I think I’m not that type of person who can do it. She gave me that extra push, through that book.
While in Grit, Duckworth explained the importance of grit and resilience. This book, hand-in-hand with Mindset, motivate me to achieve things. They don’t talk about dreams and passion, but the mindset and the attitude needed to do the real work.
I used to have limiting beliefs about myself and about the world. These books made me realize that I have so much potential that I can use to achieve things, as long as I’m willing to do it. It’s not all about talents, people.
Some Made Me Fall In Love With The Characters
I always love a good story that spans over a decade, like Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Little House on The Prairie series by Laura Ingalls, and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.
It’s like seeing someone’s life unfolds in front of your eyes. Why they are acting a certain way, we know the background story. And it’s just sad when the story comes to an end, like saying goodbye to someone we’ve known a long time.
Most Made Me A Better Person
We read books and stories to feel something. To reflect your life on your someone else’s. And ultimately, to learn something from it, and apply it in your life.