Tag Archives: variety

Asian Literature is Always Forgotten

Asian literature is largely unknown. I must admit my utter ignorance about it as almost every European reader should. We Western people blush unless we have read Shakespeare or Cervantes while we do not care about any well-known Asian writer. The lack of Asian works in Western bookshops and reviews is simply appalling.

As I did regarding Latin American literature, I shook my memory tree in order to gather every piece of Asian literature I ever read. My sparse Far-East’s readings include two works by the Japanese author Yukio Mishima (The Temple of Golden Pavilion and The Music), Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by the also Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, The Art of War by Sun Tzu, the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu and a few poems by the Chinese poet Li Bai. I also read some Middle East works such as Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, the Innana’s Descent to the Underworld and Erra and Ishum, apart from scattered poems by medieval Persian poets. This short list is almost completed by adding some Asian-born writers of Western traditions, including ancient ones such as Herodotus and Heraclitus. There is nothing else save for fragments of the Bible, an almost European version of One Thousand and One Night, a few haikus and tankas and a handful of manga graphic stories. To top it off, I read none of them in their original languages.

Some time ago I read about this girl who aimed to read one book from almost every country in the world. I thought then it was a great idea. I have scarcely read anything from Asia and I miss large areas of this continent as for literature. I used to consider myself a good reader though I do not hold such a smarty claim anymore.

In the future I will try to diversify my readings so that taking more Asian works. I think this is a great way to overcome our Euro-centric thinking.

I will appreciate any fresh Asian suggestion.

Variety / Quantity / Quality

My main motivation why I read is just having fun. Learning, increasing my concentration rates, looking for information I am curious about and so on are usually side-effects. However, they are also good consequences of reading, and all of them could be motivators in and of themselves. They define parts of the personality as well.

Once we realise that having fun is not the only good thing we can gather from literature, we should be aware of the tricky package variety – quantity – quality.

Source: Commons (Public domain)

Source: Commons (Public domain)

Variety

According to PISA files, this is the most important factor while reading. It doesn’t matter whether a person read a lot. Saying it otherwise, if two people read the same quantity of literature but one of them reads always the same genre whereas the other switches among them, the second one will have more possibilities of developing his cognitive abilities. In this equation not only can we include all kind of fictional books, but also essay, divulgation, poetry, theatre, newspapers, e-books, comics and the like. Probably, we could add reading in more than one language.

In my opinion, this is the main idea we should keep in mind while reading. Also, I think that switching among different plots and styles is very interesting and fun! Apart from that, reading too much within an only genre could lead to tediousness and reading crisis, which are the opposite of the first goal: read to have fun.

Quantity

Probably, this is the point of disagreement. What is best between quantity and quality? As usual, there’re no simple answers. I believe that there’s a point when one of them outruns the other. Quality is more important to me, though the more balance the better. Incidentally, a high reading frequency allows a higher variety.

Quality

If your time of reading is sparse, go for it! Quality is, nevertheless, hard to define. Although what is quality is something which is beyond this post’s aim, we could probably agree in taking each literary corpus as a guarantee of quality. They list works which are rewarded due to innovations in many aspects, so we expect to take from a few of them more feedback than from a bunch of non-rewarded ones.

However, every reader is different. Sacrificing quantity for quality doesn’t worth when the person doesn’t enjoy the books as much as others. Also, quality shouldn’t be a complete alternative to variety. Newspapers, comics, magazines or blogs are also important in our development as readers and people. Don’t underrate them.