5 Things I Learned From Books

5-things-i-learned-from-booksToday is my birthday and a milestone one at that. This has made me think about what I’ve accomplished in these (mumble, mumble) years of my life. Where I’ve been and where I’ll go. As I reflect on things I care about, I’ve thought of all the books I’ve read and the important lessons I’ve learned. Here are some of them:

Lesson #1: You know nothing (but that’s why we have books)

Growing up I had no access to books, and my education – from grammar school to high school – sucked. When I first came to the US, I knew pretty much nothing about world history, geography, biology, you name it. But that changed when I got my first library card. All of a sudden, I could learn about places I dreamed about (and point them on a map!)

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

Lesson #2: Don’t judge.
In books, we have the amazing opportunity to experience others’ point of views. We can hear their thoughts and know what they’re feeling, why they do the things they do. I wouldn’t like to have this ability in real life (perish the thought!) but learning about the thoughts and motivations of people so different from myself has allowed me to give others the benefit of the doubt.

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Lesson #3: Walk the walk
There are many things I abhor when I find them in books: main characters who don’t communicate, expect others to read her mind, to name a few. Until a few years ago, I didn’t realize that sometimes, I behave in the exact same way in real life! I’m not the most self-aware of people so reading repeatedly about those behaviors has helped me detect them when I’m about to engage in them (oh the horror!) I still hate when characters do these things (and will say so in my review) but every day, I’m striving to eliminate those traits from my own behavior. I’m not always successful but I’m still working on it.

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Lesson #4: Learn from your mistakes
I used to berate myself whenever I made mistakes, but if there’s one thing you find in books are people who dust themselves up to live another day. It seems unbelievable but seeing fictional characters do this has helped me turn a negative into a positive. Not that I don’t berate myself but at least now, I strive to learn from the mistake and never do it again.

Well, we all make mistakes, dear, so just put it behind you. We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

Lesson #5: Don’t be TSTL (too stupid to live)
Have you ever read a book where the main character does something really stupid, like go chase the villain by herself in her underwear?(Of course you have) I’d like to think that I’m better than that, but I’ve learned to detect AND avoid! every-time I’m about to engage in TSTL behavior (riding with a buzzed driver, texting while crossing the streets, taking selfies next to cliffs, etc.). Shit happens…but if there’s something I’ve learned from TSTL characters is that we shouldn’t contribute to our own downfall!

There is no sin except stupidity.”
Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist

Now it’s your turn! Tell us in the comments some things you’ve learned from books.

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