Reading has always been my escape from reality. It gives me the opportunity to fly right round the world and gives me true life excitement. Fantastic fairy tales as a child, travelogues and non-fiction as a teenager and several novels from childhood to adulthood. I admit being a book addict but it’s a good addiction. Books are my favourite go to when I am blue, when I am happy.
In the place Nigeria has found herself with all sorts hoisted on her by some of her greedy, complex and never empathetic citizens, I read to stay sane. I have been even more voracious in my reading than ever before. I have been processing the passing of Sound Sultan and Rachel Oniga. The kidnap of children, the murders, the difficulties and general wickedness all around. What about the constant abuse of each other? The terrible toxic situation has driven me further into my books.
While I am not playing the Ostrich, the books help me to get an out of body experience. It helps me. It is cathartic. Heart-warming true stories and amazing well written fictional tales. I have also recently began to read Amos Tutuola’s The Palm wine Drinkard. A fantastic tale of Yoruba mythology. A great escape in such difficult times.
Are you reading or are you just existing? This was the question I asked 400 level students at Bingham University recently where I teach International broadcasting and Specialised reporting. I told them readers will always be ahead of non-readers no matter what they decide to do in life. Indeed beyond it being an escapist process and leisure outlet, reading remains one of life’s more formidable activities and if you are not involved in it then as far as I am concerned you are simply existing.
Readers will always be ahead of non-readers no matter what they decide to do in life
Today over half of the information I have are from reading. Oh, just the joy of flipping a book, the giddy smell of paper, the rush of adrenaline as soon I step into a bookshop. All book lovers understand this. There are different stories around different books and many lessons learnt.
Let’s take Kitchen Confidential for example.
Written by one of the food industries Enfant terrible Anthony Bourdain. I ran into this book in a bookshop and was immediately drawn by the title of the book. What an arrogant title. I read it within 48 hours following Anthony Bourdain through what rescued him from ending up in the dump. Cooking. I followed him through his drug fuel days and a job he took to bake a wedding cake, which he had no skills to do. He shared the horror of turning up with a blue cake to the wedding and how the newlyweds nearly died of shock.
Suffice it to say the fragile horror collapsed much to the dread of wedding guests. But it’s the wicked humour of Bourdain that got me reading through the night. It was like adventures of Ali Baba and the forty thieves. Non-fiction that read like pure fiction. I had never heard of Bourdain when I bought this book. But he came to world attention when he started the TV series Parts unknown as he ate his way through Afghanistan and other interesting parts of the world. I enjoyed his daring do, the food he cooked, the ones he described, Anthony was the ultimate Chef. Rebellious, bold, a TV producer’s delight. All of these interesting tales started with a book I bought by a hunch in a bookshop. But my relationship with Bourdain did not end there. Subsequently, I bought several of his books. In June of 2018 Bourdain died by suicide. I mourned him as if I knew him.
Books are powerful. I read about Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela, Bob Marley, Bill Clinton. Never met them but actually met them through books. Everyone should read a book.
It takes you to places you never knew you could go.
Books are forever. Are you reading or are you just existing?