Bibliophiles talk a lot about the mind-expanding power of books.

The way that books allow you to see another person’s perspective is truly unique. But to take advantage of this beautiful aspect of reading requires some effort on our part. Because so much of the publishing industry is dominated by white, cisgender voices, we have to make a conscious effort to read new perspectives. It isn’t hard to do, and it can be a moving experience.

I read for a variety of reasons. Sometimes I read for an entertaining escape. Other times I read to learn. Nonfiction feeds my brain and helps me understand things on an intellectual and logical basis. But learning goes beyond reading nonfiction for me.

Reading fiction can help you understand things on an emotional level. It is one thing to read about the history of slavery. It is a whole different thing to read Beloved by Toni Morrison or The Water Dancer by Ta-Nahisi Coates. It is one thing to read about the history of the AIDS crisis, it is another thing to read The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer. The fictionalized stories gut me in a way that non-fiction, as horrifying as it may be, never could. They don’t just help my brain understand, they help my soul understand. The emotional learning is so often overlooked. But for me, it is every bit as important. If not moreso.

So reader friends, my wish for you is this: next time you go to the bookstore or the library, grab a book by someone who isn’t like you. Grab a book of historical fiction, grab something that will help you gain an emotional understanding of something you have learned already. Teach your heart something new. Expand your humanity.

What’s on your list by an author who isn’t like you, or about a subject you have no personal experience of? Let us know in the comments!

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