Picture of Books In a Pile
Ladder of Knowledge

If you are Kenyan and you read books, you probably have poor reading habits in my book, don’t take it personal it’s just a personal opinion. After about two days of contemplating what I should write about to make my much anticipated comeback to the blogosphere (I have fans who read me, what?), and because I just finished reading a book I would describe as quiet riveting, I decided I might as well teach folks good reading habits. Here are my fundamentals that I think everyone should abide by;

1. Ditch The Novel

Rule number one, if it’s a novel it’s a waste of time! You get much pleasure when you read but once you close the book there’s not much to show for it. It’s not how much you read, it’s what you read, can I get an amen? Okay, so you read for pleasure only, see that right there; that’s a bad habit. I do not refute, there are some good novels worth reading like I read Paulo Coelho again recently, good read, there is something more to gain than just pleasure in some of these novels but if you make novels your habit, you know what kind it’s going to be.

Novels’ shortcoming for a curious individual like me is that I’m compelled to take everything that the author writes as is. Whenever I ask myself ‘why?’, the answer is always going to be because the author wrote so. If you were anything like me in my reading habits, you would like to at least be presented with empirical evidence from real life experiences to make the fiction live, impossible! Fiction is dead, it cannot come to life. In a novel, even if the made-up story is credible, does it not make you wonder if things would happen in that exact sequence in real life? We probably will never know! And that might be my own bad habit, I always want to know.

2. Practice What You Read

You read something, test it. It will make you feel empowered and a better person. If it fails the test, dump it. On to the next. Wise men said; don’t believe everything you read, take a moment and digest this. In this era, it’s so easy to get a hold of a good book, one humongous reason why I’m glad to be living in it. Life is short, learn as much as you can, explore. There is no where a book cannot take you… I know, that sounds corny.

In the news this week, a woman was killed in a stampede in a Johannesburg university while scrambling for a chance to register for the limited spots (I guess they have not yet discovered online registration), that same day a debate was broadcasted on BBC’s World Have Your Say seeking to answer the question: is university education a privilege or a right? {To listen to that broadcast, download the podcast here, it had Kenyan contributors who misrepresented us (Kenyans) from my vantage point, the catch is that that particular podcast is available for download only for 7 days from the 10th of January 2012} It was interesting to note that education meant different things to different people, others considered online education as second class.. if not third, others considered education without certification as no education at all, check this story of students getting university education that they will not be credited for, they call it Freedom University. My point: when you read, you learn. And when you learn, it’s for your own development in the different facets of life. When you develop you become a better person because you think and understand things better, and there is some education for you.

3. Self-help Scrolls

Don’t even get me started, I’ll start by myself. Books that help you help yourself, read them in private and avoid sharing them with everyone. There may not be anything intrinsically wrong with these books, except for the fact that they can sometimes sap the excitement out of life by pointing out where the pitfalls are (or might be), I mean, noble but boring. But being spotted reading them is rather an admission of weakness, which is different and has nothing to do with the actual presence or absence of the said weakness. It’s like using a dating service.

Bonus

This week I learned about independent candidature in Kenyan politics, excuse my ignorance but I just recently learned that to vie for the position of  MP or senator, the constitution does not necessarily require you to  be a member of a political party. Well, I’d like to see an independent candidate win an election, that would be something to watch.

Today I remembered an awkward time during my high school days, I was in the company of two of my high school friends when we bumped into my mother, after she had left one of them told the other “His mom is hot!” I mean, what do you say to that? Awkward indeed. *shaking head vigorously*

Happy new readers!

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9 thoughts on “Hello, Do You Read Me?

  1. sometimes you read for inspiration or want to forget worries and think about possibilities. A miraculous life does not abound in the traditional sense of scientific evidence. I suggest you ditch the empirical mentality rather than ditching the novel.

  2. I’m not against escapism, but dwelling on it and getting stuck in it. You talk about possibilities, I don’t think novels are the great place to find those.
    I’m not against entertainment and pleasure, that’s why we have movies and television shows that tell stories of happy endings. We all know the general rules of Hollywood. When cars crash they must explode, the boy always gets the girl… I’m not against it all for I know for a fact that anything is possible. Get inspired and all but really… they don’t tell you how you can make that possible in your own life. The rules of story telling do not apply in the real world. But it makes you feel better, I may change the rule to ‘Read Less Novels’ and more real books!

  3. You cannot compare a book and a movie!!!!! With a book you create your own world, you imagine; with a movie all you do is take in someone’s interpretation of the scenes in the books.

    Books offer much more than just entertainment, and by books here I’m talking about novels. Fiction. Fiction is interesting, it’s not escapism. Most fiction books are based in reality, they describe things that happened in particular cultures, the wars the people lived through etc. Why do you think novelists research first before writing books? It’s only the characters that are fictitious, otherwise events that happen in the books could very much happen in real life.

    The only thing I read is novels, and that does not mean I have poor reading habits. To write well, you must read. Occasionally I venture into autobiographies/biographies, only if they are interesting to read. Catch me dead reading an inspirational/selfless book.

  4. You do not get my Amen on novels.

    First I don’t agree that there’s nothing more to gain from reading novels than pleasure. Like other books, you may not feel it but they inform and mould your language. Over time They help you articulate your writing and create scenarios.

    Just read and enjoy the story without too many curiosities and ‘why’ questions. Sometimes the answer to why is simply because.

    If you’re a creative, still enjoy the novel and create alternatives of your own, its fun.

  5. I read novels, I just finished reading one. But they are not the only books I read. I have a feeling I may have to change my stance on novels though or I may look hypocritical hehe. Cuz you’re right.

  6. I do consider all the ideas you have offered on your post. They’re really convincing and will certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are very brief for beginners. Could you please extend them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

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