By Bamidele Williams
Ironically, but not coincidentally, reading has begun fading from our culture at the very moment that its importance to that culture is finally being established.
Its decline, many theorists believe, is as profound as, say, the fall of communism, and some have taken to prophesying that the downturn in reading could result in the modern world’s cultural and political decline.
“A mode of thinking is being lost,” laments Neil Postman, whose book, “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” is a warning about the consequences of a falloff in reading.
“We are losing a sort of psychic habit, a logic, a sense of complexity, an ability to spot contradictions and even falsity.” Postman, a professor of communication arts at New York University, believes this loss is now being felt in our cultural activities and in our politics, as well as in our children’s result scores, and that it could get worse.
But of course such prophecies are delivered in print, so no one pays much heed.
Reading stimulates imagination, encourages quick learning, and expands horizons. It encourages imagination and curiosity. Reading enhances acquisition of skills for handling complex ideas or issues.
Present and future generations in Nigeria are at risk of going straight from an oral to a digital culture, skipping over the writing and reading culture in the process. The library has the responsibility of maaking information available in different formats to encourage reading culture among students.
Is that library well facilitated and besides, is our students making use of the little it has?
How many youths of Nigeria read the daily newspapers and occasional magazines from time to time talk more of literature books?
No wonder you will be amazingly disappointed at what comes out of the mouth of most of our youths during a live discussion and also on our social media.
The responses you read from our youths across the social media clearly removes every iota of doubts about the ugly demise of our reading culture in the country.
Great readers are great readers.
No wonder one atheist said that great men of God, great preachers, we see all around now are good voracious readers and not the work of any Holy Spirit
as he claimed that they are only pouring out what they have read from different books as great preachers are great readers.
He ascribed this to the huge amount of books you find in their personal library.
These failures in reading culture arise as a result of a poor acquisition of reading skills and and passion.
One who has developed the habit of reading will always look for something to read.
Since the arrival of mobile phones and smartphones , Nigerian students, especially those in institutions of higher learning, have concentrated more on phone calls than in reading their books.
Many of us especially the girls have always glued their handsets to their ears all day long. They are always seen either distorting their faces or beaming with smiles or laughing boisterously most of the time as they discuss over the phones.
Anyone who is always so engaged has little or no time for reading. Therefore, the existence of GSM phone booths all over our campuses and easily acquisition of handsets by students have helped to distract our students from developing good reading culture.
When I’m talking about reading culture here, I’m not talking of just reading your Physics, Chemistry, Zoology, EGL or any of fields vocabularies.
I’m talking about reading beyond the confined context of your fields.
Reading historical books, journals, newspapers, classical books, Atlas, encyclopedia among others.
The Microsoft talisman, Bill gates, once said he usually read nothing less than 50 books from various fields yearly.
In fact, he claimed that what he enjoys most doing at his leisure is reading.
No wonder he found himself where he is today. Books are different ideas summarized in a printed form.
Go and ask from or about our present and gone great leaders and successful men like Napoleon, Gates, Obama among others about the secret to their giantsride and I’m sure cognitive and varietal reading is the bedrock.
I will recommend “NO EXCUSES! by Brian Tracy” to you for a start if you are willing and ready to resuscitate, resurrect, rekindle or start all over the flame of reading in you instead of imbibing in unnecessary, no-value-added discussions.
Bamidele Williams is a Public Affairs Analyst.