How to read more
Review Title: How To Read More
Author: Martin Udogie
Publisher: Author House
Reviewer: Frederick Mordi
Price: Not stated
How To Read More: Simple Steps to a Life-long Habit of Enjoyable and Rewarding Reading, is a motivational book that provides guidelines for developing effective reading skills. The 155-page publication is divided into 17 chapters. Each chapter is prefaced by a short story that whets the reader’s appetite, before the main course. There are, in all, 19 of such short stories. The author also offers 10 tips on the right techniques for reading more.
In the first seven chapters, the author explains why he decides to write the book. In the Prologue, the author recalls watching a programme on CNN, where Richard Quest, the presenter, asks a CEO of a major international corporation, what he reads. The CEO’s reply that he hardly finds the time to read owing to his tight schedule, comes as a surprise to the author, who was at the time, putting together the book. He says he has been thinking all along that successful business executive are voracious readers.
Apparently eager to know if this is a general trend among CEOs, he does extensive research on the reading habits of famous people and discovers that they have all something in common: they read a lot! From Ben Carson, the renowned neurosurgeon, who recently declared his interest to contest in the 2016 American presidential election, to George W. Bush, whose unusual formula for reading was to enter into a reading contest with one of his top presidential aides, Karl Rowe.
From his personal experience, the author says one of the reasons people do not read as much as they would love to, is the books themselves. Not all books are fun to read, he admits. He asserts that a book should not be hard to read, but should be exciting enough both in terms of cover title, design, and content, to attract the reader’s interest, and hold his attention to the end.
“One of the things that make books enjoyable is the style they are written in,” he explains in Chapter One. “So a book that seeks to encourage or even attempt to teach people to form the habit of reading itself, has to pass the test.”
He reinforces this view in Chapter Two, where he sheds more light on the format of his book. “When it comes to books that hold people’s interest, the style, as well as the format a book is written in, seems to hold the key. Books that are simple, practical and tell stories tend to belong to this category.”
He cites authors such as Malcolm Gladwell and Jim Collins as examples of writers who are experts in the art of telling stories. He says his book adopts the story-telling style, to appeal to a broad spectrum of readers.
In Chapter Three, he laments the sharp drop in academic performance of Nigerian students and attributes this to poor reading culture. He cites statistics to buttress his argument. He also makes reference to the Economist magazine, which in 2007, noted that Chimamanda Adichie’s popular novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, sold just 5,000 copies in her native Nigeria, and more than 240,000 copies in Britain. He argues that the perceived poor reading habits of some Nigerians cannot be attributed to poverty or time, and draws a comparison between reading, and exercising. Both require commitment, time and effort, he adds.
In Chapter Four, he argues that habits can be changed, such that people who do not have the propensity for reading, can quickly develop the skill. He enunciates the benefits of reading in the next chapter.
In Chapter Six, he tells a personal story on how he started the journey to reading. He reveals that his spell at the then Andersen Consulting, turned him into a bookworm.
In Chapter Seven, he highlights the reading style of world leaders such as President Barack Obama, Harry Truman and Lee Kuan Yew. The author devotes the next 10 chapters to effective techniques for both writing and reading.
The language of the book, presented in a ‘how-to’ style, is accessible to readers, owing to its simplicity and aesthetic appeal. The text is well spaced out making reading a pleasurable experience. The use of short stories is very commendable, while the author also deserves praise for taking pains to list the source of his works in the Glossary.
But the author admits that it is not enough to simply write a book and expect people to see it as the panacea to their poor reading habit. He says the whole idea is to use the book to ignite a silent revolution that will encourage people to discover the treasure in reading books.
However, like most printed matter, some errors are noticed in the book. Some of them are typographical in nature, while others have to do with unintended discrepancies. For instance, on page 18, paragraph two, Colllins’ team should have been Collins’ team. In the second paragraph on page 26, where you have “stories” we buried deep in the book…should have been “stories” were buried deep in the book. Also, vanishes is not correctly spelt in the first paragraph on page 128, where it is written as varnishes. On page 105, in the seventh paragraph, where you have… notice that is has wandered…should have been…notice that it has wandered.
There is also the need to maintain consistency in the use of full stop after quotes, and the title of books. In some cases, the period is used inside the quote, which is the correct style, and in others, outside the quote. There is, in addition, the need to be consistent in the type face of book titles. For instance on page 92, where he makes reference to Steve Jobs’ autobiography in paragraphs one and two, the title should have been italicised. (Steve Job). This will make it difficult for the reader to differentiate between the book and the man. The author should address these identified errors in subsequent revisions.
For a first time work, the author deserves credit for being innovative. In all, the publication offers an exciting perspective into reading, and for that matter, writing. It comes highly recommended to those that seek adventure in the world of books.
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