Revisited: Lessons from Reading (1)

Be Watchful of Own Prejudices: a memoir in translation, A Jihad for Love by Mohamed El Bachiri reminded me that what the world needs (and has always) needed is tolerance and love.

Escapism is Wonderful: Get out of the real world for a while, for no sane person can keep up with the ills of this world. The steampunk novelettes, Magical Mechanications by Pip Ballantien and Tee Morris, reminded that one of the purposes of literature is to entertain.

Always Pay Attention: There are books that makes you sit up from the very first sentence. The kind of writing that grabs your attention and works hard at keeping it as you turn pages. I certainly like this kind of writing. But as I read a collection of short stories, The Storyteller Speaks by Annika Perry, I remembered that I actual love slow-paced books. They allow me to pay close attention to their worlds and characters.

Practice Gratitude: No-one (for me) does it better than Emily Dickinson. Reading and rereading her poems always reminds me to focus on nurturing what sustains and gives me joy by appreciating the little things in life.

Build Your Tribe: History has always been unjust towards women. This injustice is so vividly captured in Cast a Long Shadow by Leena Lander, a historical novel about one of the infamous witch hunts in Northern Europe; women turning against each other as they are falsely accused. The importance of surrounding oneself with people who get you and want the best for you cannot be overstated.

to be continued…

notes: As I wrap my reading, I thought I’d share some of the valuable lessons I revisited this summer, and how each book enriched my experience.

Khaya Ronkainen
Khaya Ronkainen is a writer, poet and creative professional. Her blog focuses on all things poetry and creative nonfiction.


  1. I love this. And believe it, too. I read all sorts of books and genres and in all kinds of formats. There are things that books outside our genre teach us that we can never learn from the kind of writing we love so much that we can barely slow down to appreciate and digest the structure of what is said. Thank goodness for variety, for access, for words… Aren’t we lucky? We have books to read, we can choose to accept others, we can think of building our tribe and actually doing it, we can be… We are lucky, indeed. And reading shows us just how much.

  2. Every book is a teacher…whether we are ready for the lesson or not. You have not only given us the key to enjoyment, but the key to enrichment in reading everything…This a wonderful post wonderfully stated!

  3. You’ve put it so well, “There are things that books outside our genre teach us that we can never learn from the kind of writing we love so much…” and perhaps, that’s the importance of reading widely. We are lucky, indeed, to have access to words and worlds to grow and be. Thanks Maga, you are by far one of the few writers (besides writers, who are also reviewers) I know, who read widely!

  4. What an inspiring reflection, Khaya. I love this! Books are wonderful, aren’t they? And they play so many roles in our lives. Aaah, this makes me want to drop everything and read. Great post!

  5. I know the feeling of wanting to drop everything and read. 🙂 Thanks Diana, I’m glad you enjoyed this reflection.

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