Analytical Mind

...challenging conventional thinking

Reading can save your life

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Hello everyone. Thank you all for your feedback on last week’s posts. I appreciate it and so does our guest author. This week’s guest post is from Tobi Odetola and promises to catch you unawares (It got me too!). Enjoy the post and share it with those you feel might need it. One more thing, please drop your comments in the comments section just below the post for the benefit of other readers (don’t just send pings). Cheers.

As kids, we read lots of books. So much that not a few of us hated our parents for their constant reminders to go and ‘carry’ our books. Fast forward to today and ask yourself a simple question. Do I still read?
For the sake of clarification, reading in this context does not include going through emails, workplace files, memos and queries. Neither does the daily reading of any the holy books – for those that do – nor road signs, sign posts, bill boards etc. count. Let us not even talk about your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages. Reading here is talking about one of the most ancient academic exercises known to develop the mind. I have long found out that reading is a habit rather than a vocation. The phrase – reading culture – has never had as much meaning until about three years ago.

There is a particular trend in the country – we have so many of them. Permit me to introduce to you, Zee. Kindly applaud him. Zee blazed the trail right from his primary school days. At the beginning of every term, the column for position in his school report card was always filled with the word FIRST. The mortals unfortunate to be in the same class as Zee jostled for the other positions. He knew about everything. He was that good. Even in secondary school, he did not ease off. He read all sorts. When it was time for entry into the university, admission offers were never in short supply. He chose that of a university in Lagos, studied hard and eventually graduated with honors.  Then the multinational companies came calling. Zee was paid handsomely. He became busy with work all of the time. He barely even had time for the papers while dusts and spiders competed for space in his library.
Familiar story? Sadly, this is the story of most Nigerians. The race – or is it struggle – for survival has robbed many of their hunger for reading. Those that previously complete two books per week can no longer do one in a month. Books are the food of the mind. They are our window to the world and allow us explore distant lands and times. However, they are becoming much despised in our society. This is best illustrated by manner in which Nigerians open doors: most people would rather try in one way and when that fails, try it the other way, when simply reading the sign ‘PUSH’ or ‘PULL’ would have saved them effort and time. Is there anything more annoying than when an apparently educated young person with no obvious visual impairment enters your office to ask if this is Dr John’s office when the sign boldly reads (if not screams) Dr Andrew
Primarily, the economy is behind this. It makes one believe that the time spent reading could be better spent chasing money. It also tells us that money spent on books could have bought a new shirt or a big bowl of rice. Reading is not an attractive hobby around here. We also have perhaps taken the pop culture a tad too seriously, labeling anyone that reads a nerd.
Another thing to consider is that most of us have never read because we wanted to. Going by the outdated teaching materials and disregarded theories, do you think our academics, your lecturers read? For most of us, the sole purpose of reading is to pass exams, gain promotions, finish school, get a job and all the other good things of life. However, what shall it profit a man who after working hard to become a university graduate cannot hold a discussion on World War II with the interviewer at his dream company. Or a mother who is an ‘Oga’ at work but is unable to help her child list the past Nigerian Rulers in the correct order? Would it not be a shame if an engineer or lawyer asserts ‘thinking’ as the root cause of hypertension?
Reading liberates the mind and purges it of all ignorance. Through books, I found out that Indian women pay a heavy dowry to get married. Only books could tell you that Babylon and the Rivers of Eden were in Modern-Day Iraq and that Iran is synonymous with Persia. Books have taken me on an interesting voyage around the world, from the jungles of the Amazon to the colorful city of Seoul. Books have won me prizes. Books have introduced me to wonderful people.
Reading can save your life. It can get you a job. It also makes decision-making easy. It can even help you impress that lady you have been wooing. There is no cap on what you can learn or discover through reading. Knowledge can only beget more knowledge. Reading is not rocket science. You just read this piece. Move on to the next article or book.

Oluwatobi, a doctor, is an avid reader and a lazy writer. He loves his plantain firm and lightly fried. He is presently grooming himself for a future in academia and possibly public service when he is not sleeping. He tweets via @Thobbieee.

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