Monday, November 27, 2017

How to Read in Lagos

Books open up new worlds and facilitate a semblance of time travel
For a long time, when I heard about someone’s death, I would wonder about the physical mechanism of death. How do hearts stop beating? I have long wondered what went through Abraham Lincoln’s mind as the American Civil War raged. How did he find courage to stay the course? When I get a cold, I wonder about the viruses that cause the flu and the common cold. Why are there new strains every year?

I don’t know people who can answer all these questions, so I often go searching for information. I learnt how the body shuts down by reading Sherwin Nuland’s How We Die. In Nancy Koehn’s Forged in Crisis, I found answers to my decades-old questions about Lincoln’s state of mind during the war. From a Ted-Ed video, I understood why there were different flu strains every year.

The ability to grow endlessly and apply information to change our lives is part of what makes us human. While a lot of information is available on Facebook and Twitter threads, books and long articles are arguably the most effective way to dive into new subjects. They open up new worlds, grant access to people we would not have met otherwise, and facilitate a semblance of time travel. Why then don’t more people read?