On Books and Reading

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Books I read in 2014

Happy New Year everybody!

Hope you’re all doing ok and had a wonderful holiday season! May this year be filled with positivity and may we all achieve any and everything we set out to do!

I wanted to start the year off with a little reflection on the past year but instead of talking about what I did or wish I’d done last year I’ve decided to focus solely on the more positive notes so why not talk about reading?!

Books are my absolute favorite toy. Books are filled with so much information and they entice and stimulate the imagination in a way other forms of media can’t. Now, I do acknowledge that reading might not be everybody’s favorite thing to do and even though I personally think reading is a habit that is worth developing, not everybody is inclined in that direction. According to NRP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) not all of us are visual learners. Some people are more auditory (for which audio-books are also a good form of “reading”) and others are more kinesthetic meaning they learn better from doing. I do think that all of these forms of learning require some form of base reading to understand or at least make us primarily aware of basic concepts and from there we can each use our preferred method of learning to further process the information. Now, since I’m all for reading I am going to advocate for it in particular.

Reading requires focus and in a word where 6-second videos are the norm, our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter and reading is a good way to counteract the few negative effects of the ever advancing technology. Reading also teaches us to dedicate time to certain activities. It’s not something you can do while multitasking so it requires conscious time allocation and focus. But my most favorite fact about reading, especially when it’s devoid of illustration along with the story, it engages your mind to fill in the gaps according to the descriptions given. When you’re reading a novel, no matter how descriptive it is about, say, a character in the story, no two people will envision the exact same person. What we envision will be directly correlated to our past experiences, cultural backgrounds, our individual perceptions of beauty, etc., which makes every story extremely personal to whoever is reading it. Another thing about reading is how it might resonate with some and not at all with others which again, engages each reader differently, or the same reader differently when the story is read at different times in their lives.

Now, reading hasn’t always been a passion of mine. I remember not really enjoying reading as a child and the realization that to be a doctor you had to read constantly, even after you were done with school was the reason my 10 year old self decided to give up a (till then) life long dream of being a doctor. Yes, it was that serious. It wasn’t until a little later, in high school, where reading slowly became something I enjoyed doing again. First because we were encouraged to read from the school library and I had this one teacher that would kind of look at you sideways if you never came into the library and borrowed a book so I started reading from there but it wasn’t until I moved away from home for university that I really developed a love for reading. First through way of blogs, I was an avid blog reader, and then, when I finally discovered the power of amazon I started to read a bit more seriously and consistently. Now granted, I am still not at the level I’d live to be with my reading in terms of the amount of books I read or how fast I finish one but I do have to say that last year was the most I’ve read (for pleasure) in my entire live. I read about 9 or 10 books which, for someone who wasn’t reading much before, I’d say is pretty good.

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A few books I look forward to reading in 2015

Now, as someone who hasn’t always had a love for reading there have been a few things I’ve experienced that used to keep me from developing the habit of reading so here are a few of them and a few tips on how to get over them:

Finding time to read. I’m not sure if I believe in the concept of “not having time”. People make time for what they think is important. Most of my reading is done during the “in-between” times, during commutes like bus/metro rides, the 10 minute breaks in between classes, waiting in line at the bank, etc., and that is what works for me. I’m trying to more consistent about allocating time for reading but until I get that right, the in-betweens it is.

Types of books to read. Honestly, I believe you should read any and everything that interests you and nobody should be allowed to make you feel ashamed for reading whatever you’re interested in. I personally have topics that I don’t particularly care for but that doesn’t mean they are any less worth reading that the ones I enjoy. As long as it makes you happy, you should go for it. Now, there’s also something to be said about moving away from your comfort zone, especially if it’s something you know would benefit you if you took the time to try to understand it. You might think investing is a difficult subject or that you would never be able to understand it but if you ever plan on being an investor then sooner or later (preferably sooner) you’ll have to start learning about investing and if you know you’re more inclined to learning from books then maybe that’s something worth trying. Expand your reading pool. You never know what you might learn.

Books are expensive. Depending on where you are, yes, they can be pretty expensive. Back home that’s a thing I used to experience a lot. Most of the books were either non existent, meaning you had to order them from abroad and they were just too expensive to buy. You don’t have to own the books to read them though.

Find a library. If you have a place where you can rent books near you, make use of that. Plus, browsing through a library gives you the opportunity to stumble across things you might not ordinarily find when you’re looking for one specific book.

Borrow from a friend. If you have friends who enjoy reading, reach out to them. Now, I do have to say there is a bit of an etiquette when borrowing books from people. There’s a saying back home: there are 3 things you never lend out – a book, a car, and a spouse. So be considerate when borrowing a book from someone: return it in a timely manner and in good condition. Books are precious to most people who buy and keep books so returning them in a timely manner and in good condition shows them you value and respect the value of the book as much as they do. What is timely? In my opinion, 2 weeks is ideal, never more than 1 month. I know I get a little fussy if my books are away from me for too long. And if you’re the lender, don’t be afraid of telling someone when exactly you would like to have the books returned to you. They are your property, you dictate the terms in which you lend them out. I’ve lost quite a few books for not wanting to be bossy or mean. Don’t be afraid to say “I’ll need them back in 2 weeks”, they are your books.

Download them online. There are also many online resources out there. There are many free sites where you can either read online or download pdf versions of most books out there. Now, I do encourage buying actual books or paying for the downloads because I believe in supporting the people who made the books possible. Anything someone does that requires work should be remunerated, in my opinion. But I also understand that not all of us are in a position where we can afford to buy the books so hey, get them how you can now but once you’re in a better place financially, I encourage you to support the people who are providing you with sometimes life changing information. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Reading is a very influential part of my life and the moment I started reading more consistently was a very decisive moment in my journey towards becoming a more well rounded individual, in learning about other people, about myself, about taking care of my finances, eating better and just all around good things and I strongly believe it’s a habit worth investing in. Hope this helps ease your transition into reading more consistently!

And there you have it. A few quick tips about books and reading. If you have any questions about reading, what I like to read, if you’d like a review on any of the books pictured above or just anything you’d like to know in regards to books and reading just leave them below! Also, tell me what books you’ve read this past year, what books you’re currently reading and what books you’re looking forward to reading!

Hope you enjoyed the post and I’ll see you on the ext one!

Love,

Sunshine.

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8 Comments

  1. Thank you very much for writing this post! It tickles my bookish heart to bits (oh, I see Half a Yellow Sun there! Your reading tastes, then, are brilliant :P). Thanks for including a whole wonderful list on finding ways to make time to read – yes books are expensive (my bookish income is through borrowed books and the library for the most part) but yes, you’re right: in a world where entertainment is so short-lived finding longer lasting and mind-expanding pieces is difficult. Heck, you don’t even have to talk about the intellectual spiel because so many books are there solely for entertainment purposes! Loved, loved, LOVED this piece! 😀

    Reply

    1. You are very welcome! Half of a Yellow Sun was one of the highlights of my year for sure! Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and I have to say, you have a very interesting blog! I’ll definitely be going through it! Some of your wishlist titles are on mine as well! We might have to exchange ideas on some of those books sometime soon 🙂

      Reply

  2. Hi sunshinemena,
    Thank you for your article, it boosted on me the desire for reading more Books. Those you showed on your article are for sure the Good ones.

    Best Rgrds
    Makombe

    Reply

    1. Hi! Depends on what you’re looking for but from this list specifically I think everybody should read “Half of a Yellow Sun” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, it’s a very enticing novel and beautifully written, and probably “You, Inc.: The Art of Selling Yourself” by Harry Beckwith and Christine Clifford if you’re looking for a beginner “how to develop a personal brand” type of book. It’s a quick read and I think this is one of those that every young adult should read. Hope that helps!

      Reply

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