I love reading foreign books. You can learn many things by reading foreign books. Naturally, it is better if you can converse in the language the book was originally written in. Otherwise, just get the translated version. Sometimes you will find that the translated version is even cheaper. For example, the Chinese translated version of Steve Jobs’ self titled book is half the price of the English version. So you could end up saving quite a bit if you read Chinese.
Learn About Different Cultures
You can learn a lot about foreign culture from foreign books. Some might argue that it easier and more entertaining just watching foreign language movies. I agree that it might be more entertaining watching foreign language movies. However, most of the time, foreign language movies leave out many details and nuances in order to keep the movie within a certain time frame lonely planet.
You do not find the same limitations in foreign books or any other books for that matter. You can find many gems about foreign culture which you would have not realized if you had watched foreign language movies based on books.
For instance, I found out that it is rude to point with the index finger in Malay culture from a book I read on Malaysian history.
Learn About Interesting Cuisine
Foreign books are a good source to find out about interesting foreign cuisine. Although, some might not be able to stomach it. Pun intended.
On a flight to Sabah, Malaysia, for a dive trip at Sipadan Island, I read a Malay language coffee table book which mentioned a few delicacies which were exclusive to Sabah. One of them was the consumption of Sago worms.
The book goes on to say that in order to get the worms, a Sago tree is felled and left for 3 weeks. After the period of waiting, the worms can then be harvested from the trunk. Anyway, I did get a taste of a live Sago worms as well as a fried version. The author of the book was right, they taste like fat, juicy shrimp or prawns.
Learn About New Places
Another thing you can learn from foreign books are places you would not usually find in tourist pamphlets and travel books. I visited a little bar which was carved out of a little cave in the small town of Jerez in Spain after it was mentioned in Spanish book I read while I was taking a course on the language.
At first, I thought it was just a made up location by the author. This was in the early 90’s so I could not Google it to find out more. I finally managed to visit that tiny bar during a visit to Spain a few years later.
While there, I also discovered that the drink, Sherry, is from Jerez. In fact, Sherry is mispronunciation of Jerez.
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