Last year, I started a goal of reading at least one book per month just to increase my reading and my general knowledge and awareness of the world. These books can be fiction or nonfiction. Sometimes, I’ve given myself leeway to count a single book as more than “one” (Nelson Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom last year was a long book, and not always the easiest to follow since I’m largely unfamiliar with the culture of South Africa and its political history apart from the Apartheid).
This year during goal setting, I realized I really want to learn more about Chinese and Vietnamese history. I’m sadly pretty ignorant to most of it. At first glance from an outsider’s perspective, it seems ridiculous to want to learn more about myself and “my people and roots” because isn’t that just learning more of what I grew up with? Well, not really. In school, we never learned anything outside of U.S. history and Western European history. Even in art history, we used a massive book that half was filled with just Asian art history. My instructor at Lowell glossed over it completely because “that section is not covered on the Advanced Placement exam.” Outside of U.S. history and Western European history, the American education system really don’t care at all about history, and we’ve brainwashed children into thinking this. My mom never had the opportunity to learn history, my dad never cared much about it, and I wasn’t with my grandmother long enough before she passed to ever ask her (or even think to ask her, by the age of 8) what her life was like in China before immigrating. What was that experience even like?
So I’m trying to fill the void now by doing my own research. A subset of my list that I am building out is books that cover Chinese history from 1900 onward. I still have to create the Vietnamese part of it. And for American history, as I was never a huge fan of it, I suppose I need to add more to that, too, apart of American History Revised. I wish history was taught in a fun way in school. Maybe then I would have retained more of it rather than just memorizing them as facts for an exam and then immediately forgetting it all.