Don’t read, it will make you
more intelligent than the average person.
Few months ago, RationalNigerian started #ALiteraryRevival — a wonderful series on her blog. Its purpose is to get Nigerians reading books again. That is an irony though, because Nigerians read a lot. If a drone hovers across major Nigerian cities, it will find groups of Nigerians around Newspaper stands debating on the day’s headline, and missing those online. This irony is even given more credence because school children are sometimes told, “Books are a distraction, you should focus on your studies.”
However, nobody says read purposefully. Don’t just wing it from one book to another, and always question what you stand to gain by reading. But this is important because there are too many things to read, and unfortunately, not enough time. Since time is precious and there is more to life than reading, isn’t it advisable to be selective with books as with people since books are part of the company a person keeps?
Isn’t it okay to ask yourself after reading what have I learnt from this, and can I read this author again? Can I visit this blog again? Answering no is not always bad. Saramago Jose rattled me with his book—Blindness — and I am uncertain if I will ever read any of his book again. I fear it might fall short of the unreasonable high standard I hold him and thus ruin his messianic image.
If I were an expert at reading, I would say don’t just enjoy the combination of words. But I am not. So you can choose to enjoy words and nothing more, but don’t. Although words succinctly combined is one of the multiple pleasures exclusive to reading, ask yourself if they are rational. Do they make you pause, close the book and think? Do they question already existing mindset or reaffirm them?
Read all you can, read every day but in all thine reading, read purposefully and realize no matter how much you read you are still Jon Snow — you know nothing. The more you know the more you realize there is more you don’t know. And the more you read the more you realize there is more you should read, for every information gotten is a doorway to another.
During English Classes in Primary and Secondary school, the teacher would ask students to read an excerpt from a passage. Usually after reading, we would answer the questions at the end. This process was called Comprehension and Summary. Comprehension simply put is understanding what you read and Summary, showing you understand what you have read. Understanding is not as easy as identifying words, it is so much more. Looking backwards I appreciate my English Teachers for those lessons, because most of the problems in the world today are as a result of comprehension or rather the lack of it. This is mostly evident on social media where people read and make comments before understanding the context and content of a post, therefore burning bridges and waging avoidable wars. Lack of comprehension makes people read and do what they ought not to do.
Like most things, comprehension takes time. I have read stuffs that took me years to finally understand and there are some still to be understood. Time often leads to exposure to new knowledge which result in better understanding of the old. Re-reading which makes one see what was initially hidden during the first read also takes time.
While understanding what you read is important, equally important is reading with an open mind. It is the reason some people will never change their mind no matter what they read because they read with their eyes closed, blinded by prejudice.
There is nothing as dangerous as a man who can but will not read, and I believe the man who reads with a close mind is even more dangerous. He reads to suit a particular narrative. This is where religious fanatics come from. They spin the Koran or Bible, select specific text while ignoring the others to defend the deplorable things they do.
The long walk to freedom in most cases are found in the pages of books. And revolutions are born with combination of alphabets before they propel people to the streets.
To hide something from someone,
Put it in the pages of a book.
Reading is more trendy and easier than it has ever been in human history. Thanks to our mobile phones, we go online regularly to read, we have tons of eBooks and audio books stored to be read at our convenience. We have internet access to share our thoughts and also read the thoughts of others.
In conclusion, reading as liberating as it is, is a two-faced coin. The big question then is not only what, but also how are you reading? Is it helping you to become a better human being or just making you knowledgeable? Because if reading doesn’t make you better, why then should you bother reading?