What are you supposed to do when you fall off the motivational wagon? Or when you just get out of the habit of doing something? Up until now, this hadn't happened to me in a very long time because I have always had rather strict habits, but three months of breaking those habits had certain effects. So what to do?
The other day I had a friend over for a visit. She is very interested in things connected to politics and knows more than the average person about many odd countries, so I asked her how she goes about to acquire this knowledge. It's not really obvious (besides Wikipedia) to know where to start when you all of a sudden want to read up on... Turkmenistan. She said that along with factual texts and books, she also explores literary productions from the country in question in order to get more of a feel for things. Of course, this is a person who probably reads faster than anyone I know, and when you do that, this approach is not that time-consuming, but as long as you have free time what's the problem?
It is not the first time this idea strikes me, but it kind of felt like a revelation to be reminded of it. Novels are an excellent way to get loosely acquainted with history and this is one of those instances when I think you should not underestimate the use of literature (you know all those people who ask what good literature can do?). When you read a fictional book about something it usually gets an emotional hold on you, more than any nonfictional book ever could, and when you combine it with hard facts from other sources, I think your chances of remembering things increases dramatically.
Now, I belong to that group of people who learn languages and who also want to learn things about the country the language is spoken in and its culture. For a long time, I have been wanting to read up on Hungarian history. Now that I can't really make myself study Hungarian, I thought that perhaps by reading about Hungary I could trigger the spark of motivation. At the same time, I'm studying democracy at University, so why not combine all three? Yesterday I found the book Carrying a Secret in My Heart, dealing with recollections from the children of the revolutionaries of 1956 in Hungary. If all goes according to plan, I'm going to follow this book up with another one on the development of democracy in Poland and Hungary, entitled From Elections to Democracy: Building Accountable Government in Hungary and Poland. Hungary is an extremely interesting country at the moment, but sadly I have extremely poor knowledge of what is actually going on there and the historical explanations to it. But it's not like you have to go to school to get educated! At University you get a diploma, study you can do at home ;)