How books can open your mind

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12/05/2015
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How books can open your mind

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In this brief talk TED staffer Lisa Bu talks about the death of a dream, and how she found a new dream through books. Growing up in China, Bu wanted to be an opera singer. But her parents, who survived the horrors of the Cultural Revolution, had other ideas. They wanted their daughter to find a safe, well-paying job — specifically, to be an engineer like them. It didn’t matter if she liked the job or not.

No adults took her dreams of opera seriously. By age 15 she was too old to begin training. The dream ended. Searching for a new dream, she turned to books. Eventually she moved to the US.
Did you know about the value of comparative reading? Things like comparative literature or comparative religion give “scholars a more complete view of a topic…” Why not do it in daily life too? This is a great idea. We may have done this before to get opposing views of a controversy, but what she’s doing seems broader than that.
I have come to believe that coming true is not the only purpose of a dream. Its most important purpose is to get us in touch with where dreams come from, where passion comes from, where happiness comes from. Even a shattered dream can do that for you.
She describes books as “a magic portal to connect with people of the past and the present,” an observation many avid readers have made before. But then she brings the talk back to the idea of the death of a dream: “I have come to believe that coming true is not the only purpose of a dream. Its most important purpose is to get us in touch with where dreams come from, where passion comes from, where happiness comes from. Even a shattered dream can do that for you.”
The interesting thing is that this is deeply connected to reading, which for her, not only revealed a different career path, but which also gave her a broader perspective from which she could reflect upon her own experiences.