recently shared on my WhatsApp story about how I had read over 50 books just in the first half of 2018 and amidst all of the hailing about how my parents wanted a child and they gave birth to a book instead and how I was the ‘Omowe of Iwe Land’, one significant question was on the lips of everyone, “Babe, how on earth did you do it?”
Quite frankly, there was no jazz; neither was juju involved (trust me). I didn’t need to conjure incantations; neither did it require the head of a tortoise and the speed of a deer. For me, the very first step was being a book lover. I had always been fascinated by anything in prints since I was little. I mean, ANYTHING IN PRINTS; from magazines to newspapers to billboard advertisements, to my father’s Accounting textbooks (although, I still don’t understand all of the Accounting mumbo-jumbo. It confuses me), but yeah, you get the gist already. So, loving books and opening them up came easy.
Call me traditional, but I also was a sucker for hardcopy books any day. I love(d) the feel of a book in between my hands; the smell of the book so close to my face; the feeling of excitement as I flip(ped) the page, curious about what came next. My love for hardcopy books has died down to a large extent though (*insert crying face here*). The world has gone digital. Besides, as an Environmental enthusiast, it would make more sense to go softcopy than fell innocent trees to make beautiful books, right? (*insert grin here*). I joined a WhatsApp group early this year that was solely dedicated to the act of sharing books and I would say that has greatly enlarged my library of books; softcopy books at that, and it has helped a whole lot. So, people, not all WhatsApp pages are for broadcasting ‘send-this-to-7-people-and-receive-a-surprise-in-7mins’ messages – some are dedicated to a noble cause.
Answering the question of how I was able to read that not-so-many-books in such a short time, was basically the combination of loving books and having so many books to read (over 500 of them on my PC). Creating time to read those books wasn’t hard. In fact, I didn’t have to think about it or plan it into my schedule or anything. There was always time for a book, no matter how short it was or how busy I was. I read them in the bus (whilst looking up momentarily to check if the bus hasn’t driven passed my bus stop), I read them while waiting for my next lecture to begin, I read them when I am about to go to bed or basically, when I am less busy. See, it isn’t juju, is it? (*insert grin here again*).
I have had many people come up to me, lamenting about how reading books isn’t just their thing. I totally understand. But I am a hundred percent sure there is something that interests everyone. If yours is politics, begin with political books. If you are more inclined to read books on greatness or success, be my guest and start with those. Set a target if you have to. Say: One book per week or one per month. No rush. So, begin with books that catch your fancy before weaning yourself from them to delve into the hidden treasures of the other genres. I hope this inspires you in some way. Send this to 7 people and see what happens in 7 months (#wink)
Toyin has said a larger percentage of things I would have said, and I decided to feature her because she was one of those who inspired me-as at my 39th book, she had read 50 already, so just a few additions.
Hilarious as it may sound, I didn’t start out with the agenda to read 50 books although I was supposed have finished reading 50 books by December according to Michael Inioluwa Oladele, so I would start by talking about your community. Who are your friends? Your close colleagues, classmates and what do you talk about? I can’t remember the last time I downloaded a book, I sometimes just check my WhatsApp folders and see that there are new books thanks to the groups I am , my friends and those on my contact list.
If you are a Lagosian-traffic is your best friend; I understand how frustrating traffic in Lagos can be, as a matter of fact I have taken a bike from V.I to Oshodi before then took another bike to Iyana-ipaja cause I wanted to beat traffic(Please don’t ask how much I spent) but as a Lagosian , you just have to factor in traffic into your schedule you cannot spend about three to four hours on the road daily and not be able to account for any, my secret? I plan each book I want to read, as a matter of fact I have finished a whole book inside a traffic before (it was a 235 page novel by dee Henderson) . This might not work for students, but trust me, everyone has a spare time, in between classes, before lecturer arrives etc. It’s the same way you find time to read James Hadley Chase, Sidney Sheldon and Mills and Boons, our heart is always at what we cherish, so why don’t you cherish what would add value to you?
KAIZEN: Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy I came across recently while reading, it means continuous improvement in all things and so for the second half of the year, beyond reading, I plan to strategically read books that has to do with my career, area of interest and things I am passionate about, I hope you make such decisions too. The beautiful thing about reading is that you don’t really know how much you have learnt until a circumstance requires the knowledge you have acquired, or a situation requires a solution that you have read somewhere.
Etched in my memory is the day we had a foreign guest in our fellowship, she was the daughter of one our fellowship alumnus, who though was born in Nigeria, grew up abroad, spending time between the UK and US. She wanted to do a 12 weeks externship in an African hospital and chose Nigeria, her mother’s root in particular so her mum brought her to the fellowship for proper monitoring since she won’t be around with her. A lot of people found it hard to sustain a conversation with her thanks to her deep British cum American intonation so someone called me(if you know me, you’d know striking captivating conversation is a forte), to come and meet her since we were technically namesakes, so I gladly accepted the challenge(I had been admiring her from afar anyway) We started the conversation slowly and got steadily deeper, I asked her where in U.S she lived, she looked at me with all politeness and asked, Where do I know in the US,I asked her to try me, and she asked if I knew Connecticut. I replied with a hearty yes, told her Connecticut was one of the six New England states, that it shared border with Massachusetts by the North, Rhodes Island to the East and New York to the south, she was stunned!!!, she gave me a happy hi-five and we became friends immediately(we are still friends) . I learnt all I told her from John Grisham, Karen Kingsbury and Francine Rivers, I am certain you can witness to the fact that these authors explore different cities in their books. On our first hang-out, I told her about her school(She finished from Wellesley college) I told her about Chimamanda’s graduation speech and how their college MIGHT produce the first female US president, Hillary Clinton, she was in awe, and her respect and admiration for me increased exponentially, I learnt everything I told her from reading, there was no magic. If you take time to study intelligent around you, they are ardent readers, so won’t you love you join this league?
You might have to pick a reading partner, do a one book, one month thing, find a book club or any other method that works for you, but reading is one of the best activity you could embark on as it makes you rub mind with people you might ever meet…so keep reading, keep writing.
Emmanuel Faith and Toyin Faleke