Obsession With the Written Word

Reading books has been an integral part of me as far as I can remember. I started off with the simple, timeless Lady Bird books and before I knew it , I was reading newspapers daily then graduated to the African Writers series. I can never thank my late father enough for giving me this great gift. Each morning he would buy the London’s Daily Mirror, Kenya’s Daily Nation, Uganda Argus and the local Daily. We read for pleasure but as well as to understand and late in the evening to discuss the main issues with him. The Missionary school I attended for all my years of formal education had one of the biggest school libraries in the country and this boosted my obsession. I was introduced to classical literature, poetry, biographies and fiction novels. These books captured my curiosity and imagination and I cannot remember how many times I was found hiding in the pantry literary on my knees and immersed in a book after the 10:00pm Lights Out siren. I always served the punishment in silence. Since then I have read books on public buses, trains, planes, in washrooms, in a clinic while waiting for the next patient to enter.

As a teenager, I experienced wonder as I read the books and over time, I was touched by them. I learned much about life, was changed by what I read and was greatly empowered. They say that: Knowledge is power; I have always acted on the knowledge I had acquired to improve my life.
Reading has helped me to keep abreast with scientific breakthroughs, literature and global events. Through the books I have visited almost all the countries in the world. For the price of a novel, I had become a global citizen long before the Internet came along. At one time I was a self-appointed tracker of the Cambridge Five. These were British intelligence members led by Kim Philby who worked as double agents .Then I followed the Nazi War Criminals who fled to South America. The capture of Adolf Eichmann the Holocaust mastermind and the trial of 94 years old of Oskar Groening, the Book keeper of Auschwitz are among the most captivating reads. A few other war criminals now in their nineties are still alive and I am still following them in print. Currently I am following up a number of other historical events locally and globally to make sense of them.

Then, in come the Internet and this changes how we read, write and share information forever. I can now follow anything, any writer or artist that I am interested in. The e-books offer a steady supply of books to read on your fingertips. I am a member of Scribd, a digital library, e-book and audiobook subscription service. On many occasions it offers me to read free a number of novels of my taste for 30 days. My biggest problem is finding the time to read even two of the Top Picks for me. Having said that, it has never been as exciting as it is today to be a voracious reader. I am really spoilt for choice. As I get older, my preferences change, I now read more biographies than fiction to learn from real experiences and attain more wisdom. What I know for sure is that I am now an unstoppable reader.

While researching material for this post, I looked up the benefits of reading consistently. I was not surprised by what I found for I have known them since my junior school days.
Reading keeps the brain active and engaged and slows down the progress of Alzheimer’s and dementia. It opens you up to new ideas; renewing your mind and heart.
Losing yourself in a great story reduces stress and relaxes you.
It improves focus and concentration. This is important in this digital era where we all tend to be multitasking.
It equips us with analytical thinking skills. As you read you have to weave things together.
It gives us knowledge which we can use to overcome challenges in life. The earlier you start to read consistently the greater the benefit. You just keep growing and no one can take that knowledgeaway from you. On the other hand, reading is a form of free entertainment.
For emerging writers like me, reading teaches us better writing skills: you hone your skills by learning from the masters of the craft. The more you read, the better you write.
Ngugi wa Thiong’o ( formerly )James Ngugi , East Africa’s most prominent writer said:
“Stories, like food, lose their flavor if cooked in a hurry.”

I conclude by inviting the young and old who have not yet developed the habit of reading consistently to start after reading this post. It is never too late to pick up a good habit. You are missing out greatly on acquiring knowledge of literature, science and practical knowledge.
Victor Hugo said: “ To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled is a spark.”

Thank you for visiting my Blog and reading this post. May it inspire you to continue reading consistently. I would loveto read your comments on how developing a reading habit has transformed your life. Please feel free to share the post with family and friends.




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