Let me tell you why Reading is not optional

For my children at least.

It shouldn’t be for anyone, tbh.

I grew up reading books. Some of my earliest memories were of me in the toilet reading Encyclopedia Britannica for hours (there was no mobile internet), or a popular science volume under the dining table, or a tattered novel without a beginning or end with a lantern in a darkened hallway when I was home alone. And this has helped to form me as an individual, all the random tit bits of wisdom and knowledge and, occasionally, insight, that I drop even now as an adult have their roots in the frenetic reading I did as a youth.

Reading made me an explorer, it was the gateway into places that I couldn’t reach, to places that didn’t exist. Reading gave birth to the wanderlust that still plagues my life now. I am always very grateful that I was born with that innate desire to love reading.

Everyday problems for a younger me

Now, occasionally I meet people who tell me they don’t read. I try not to judge them but to be honest, most times I fail. Most times I slap them in my mind. I cannot understand how people don’t read. I keep wondering:

How do you learn? How do you wander? How do you dream?

And I realize that there are actually a whole lot of people who do not read recreationally. It has reached a point that it has become a thing, with people making excuses for themselves by saying with laughter in their mouths, “You know Nigerians don’t read”. No wonder the amount of ignorance pervasive in our society (just scroll through twitter). No wonder the lack of wonder, and wander, in the average young Nigerian. Reading has so many benefits, fact. Reading doesn’t just teach you, it takes you on a journey. It helps you form an opinion of the world, and your place in it.

How can our society grow or develop when “Nigerians don’t read?”


Yesterday I took a trip that required me to sit in a car for more than five hours. As we stopped to buy fuel I looked around and I noticed that not one out of my seven traveling companions had packed a book to read. I can’t remember the last time I took a trip in which I didn’t carry a book to read during the times I wasn’t sleeping and drooling onto my neighbours lap (I’m sorry neighbours). Sometimes I don’t read when I travel, but a book is always at hand for when I want to.

I was so sad, this was a physical manifestation of our lack of reading culture in Nigeria. And I realized that I have already destined my unborn children to a life of reading from a tender age.

For them, Reading is not optional.

Oh look, one more reading meme.

True Talk, shakes.

Check out BuzzFeeds “25 signs your addicted to books”. I don’t show all the signs but lets just say I can relate.