Thursday, 17 December 2015 06:17

Tragedy of the Non-Reader

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“In a knowledge-driven world, reading is your conduit to power” – Abi Adegboye 

Uncle Laitan was a great guy – big heart, loud laugh, and all around fun.  He died in his early 60s from diabetes.  My parents, who visited him shortly before his demise recounted finding him propped up on a settee, a mug of freshly-squeezed oranges and a dish of fried plantains set before him.  Similarly, another uncle slumped in a friend’s bathroom after being entertained with a bottle of Maltina.  By now, you’ve guessed diabetes runs in my family.  Both sides actually.  Unfortunately, so does illiteracy or rather, a non-reading culture because a cursory reading of any pamphlet on Type 2 Diabetes admonishes a reduction in carbohydrate and sugar intake!

Reading at its most basic, informs the reader.  It provides information the reader would otherwise not have – enlightening, entertaining, energizing, and mayhap, life-saving information.  Printed material provides a wealth of information that would otherwise not be available to the average person.  They say, “a picture is worth a thousand words,’ but those words are dependent on each viewer’s perception.  Whereas a picture invokes certain words in one viewer, it invokes something else in another.  A book, by contrast, says exactly what it means regardless of who picks it up.  And “talk is cheap” when you review the wealth one can pack into a well-written book in comparison to a given speech.  Regardless of how erudite a speaker, there’s only so much jaw jamming on can endure before the mind wanders.  However, when a speech is written, it provides a wellspring of inner thoughts, research, and insight. 

Printing provides an outlay of complex issues in a systematic and digestible format.  As a reader picks through the labyrinth of a book, it opens up new worlds, innovative concepts, and novel realities.  According to experts, reading builds connections in the brain which in turn helps us understand other worlds. 

The reader enjoys an escape from the stress of daily living.  You can sit back, relax and be taken to faraway lands where your grating stressors cannot reach you.  You’ll smile, chuckle, and eventually let out a belly laugh as you get caught up in the antics of your hero/ine.  And if you read, you’ll know that laughter is good medicine.

Reading allows you to find your tribe particularly if you’re swimming against the current in your culture.  When you read, you discover people who agree with you on a great number of issues because, you only read what you like.  I remember picking up a book on personal finances hoping to learn a trick or two in order to keep more of my ‘hard earned’ in my pocket.  Off the bat, the author went into a tirade about how many of us are too caught up in ostentatious lifestyles to see straight.  Every other word was a put down.  I immediately took umbrage – “that’s not my problem,” I groused.  I don’t live a flashy lifestyle nor spend thoughtlessly.”  So, I picked up another book which more closely aligned with my position.  Without reading a variety of books, you’ll be unable to separate those which speak to your mind from those that bring despair.

And talking about financial advice – there’s a plethora of books on how to save, invest in real estate, make money online, and yes, get rich quick.  And books offer other kinds of advice too – how to take better care of your health, how to raise great children, how to, how to, how to.  The other day, my daughter (the one with the big mouth) asked what I’ve gained since I began listening to audio books.  Her question implied my life has not changed much despite my copious time investment in audio books.

But, books have changed my life tremendously.  In the last ten years, with knowledge I gleaned from books, I was able to live stress-reduced through a chaotic marriage and subsequent divorce; dig out of debt; relocate, and embark on a new career path.  Reading with my ears (audiobooks), motivators like Les Brown, Jim Rohn, Jonathan Sprinkles, and others fuel me with a positive vision of life.  Dave Ramsey and Kim Kiyosaki taught me to manage my finances better.  Other books taught me time management, building a business, and junking procrastination.  And lots of romance novels helped reduce stress.    

And reading has provoked my writing.  Indeed, you cannot write unless you read.  Writing Owanbe: Yoruba Celebrations of Life led me to read all the literature I could get on Yoruba culture as well as others on American cultures.  Likewise, Wanna B Prez?: 10 Life Strategies from President Barack Obama’s Journey to the White House required tremendous research on his first presidential race, his childhood, politics of the late 2000s, and motivational literature.  Reflections on Nigerian Christianity required reading news items as well as the Bible.  Today, reading continues to influence my writing.  I read widely and then write.  And most times, my inspiration is so diverse that it’s difficult to connect my writing with what I’ve read (no fear of plagiarism, lol).

So, what should you read? Everything!  Read things that interest you and more importantly, those that impact you.  Read autobiographies of successful people, your culture’s history, positive or motivational stories, and health and wealth pamphlets.  Unfortunately, many of us have a ‘utilitarian’ view of reading whereas we are prodigious readers in order to get a degree or to earn a certificate or we read to get a promotion.  While this type of reading may provide career mobility, it does not enhance the quality of our lives particularly our health, wealth, or wellbeing. Indeed, there’s no substitute for reading.

How do you read?  The best shortcut I’ve found to reading is listening to audiobooks.  Just borrow an audio book from the library, slide it into your CD player in the car and listen as you drive around town.  Or download a sound file from itunes or your favorite freebie audioplayer unto your phone and listen anywhere.  Gain the knowledge you need to improve your health, wealth and life. Read, to make your life better.

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Abi Adegboye Ph.D

Abi Adegboye began writing as a young girl growing in western Nigeria.  In a culture that reveres boys, she was born the second of three girls.  Certain she had to be her family's 'boy,' she climbed trees to harvest fruit, dressed chickens for dinner, caught mice, and whatever else required male-handling.  She also loved to read, write, and draw.  Her initial efforts yielded publications in local newspapers and newsletters.  However, she was advised to get a day job which turned out to be as a professor of political science.  This opened to her, a different avenue for publication in her areas of research including African women and development, women migrants, and the impact of public policy on women’s political economy.

On her 40th birthday, she rekindled her creative writing with the publication of Butterfly, a picture book and Reflections on Nigerian Christianity, a social commentary.  Since then, she’s co-authored Owanbe! Yoruba Celebrations of Life (2010), a cultural anthology and published Wanna B Prez? 10 Life Strategies from President Barack Obama’s Journey to the White House (2012), a YA motivational YA book, and Renike comes to America (2016), a novella.  

Abi writes multicultural fiction and nonfiction for children and young adults.  She shares her writing through speaking engagements, performances, storytelling, and classroom visits. 

For more information about Ms. Adegboye’s publications, or to connect with her, visit her

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