Monday, July 13, 2015

Introducing the #21Minutes Reading Challenge

When I was writing “Twenty-One Days,” the audience I had in mind was Nigerian youths, not just in Nigeria, but also in diaspora.
However, today, the audience has gone beyond what I imagined, because even the older generation —those who got exempted from the NYSC program, those who have forgotten what it is all about, those who need a refresher memory course on the scheme, those who want to feel young again, those who want to know what the current generation is up to, those who want to compare the past with the present, and those who never knew the NYSC even existed— have shown interest in the book. Well, the interest is more on the fictional aspect of the book and all the scandals ;).

Reading culture (reading for fun, not just for academics) has dropped significantly, both in Nigeria and around the world. There’re a lot of things going on in the world today and also a lot of distractions, so people don't have the time to relax, grab a book, whether enormous or small, and entertain themselves anymore. Some people prefer to spend all their time on social media, or chatting. Those little pockets of time spent reading tweets and retweets can also be channelled to reading a book... just 21 minutes a day. Instead of reading a Facebook post and ALL the 1000+ comments that have been made, why not dedicate some of that time, just “21 minutes,” to read a book for fun?

People are reading less, and what they do not know is that this has a negative effect on their development. I hardly ever read fictional books when I was growing up unless they were recommended for school, so basically I read my first novel in high school. And after high school, I never picked up any fictional book again, although I read some self-help books and pocket-sized books… I was afraid of reading big books back then.

I started writing at about age 10-11, but I took a break when school got serious — high school, university and learning to “learn” in French language, so I didn’t have the time to write. Then in 2013, I saw the light when I started writing again, but not reading yet. However, later, I reasoned with myself that if I wanted people to read my books, then I had to read other people’s books too. I saw reading as an obligation at first, but when I read the first few books I found, my eyes opened. They opened to a new world, to creativity, to beauty, to imagination, to fun, to ideas… my mind opened to a lot of things. Some people might not know this, but reading for fun actually helps you explore areas in your brain/mind that you never knew you had

I had a lot of writing ideas and stories before I started reading, but then when I started reading, I got even more ideas, that the first three months into publishing my first book, I already thought about getting a ghost writer. The energy was too much that I wrote three books and three novellas within a year… there was no stopping me. And at the same time, I was still reading every genre possible, not limiting myself to any one.

I’m not sure which one came first, but the first few amazing books I read were:
-Plot, 2-10, Turn The Souls, The Future Kills, Devil’s Windpipe - by Ron Knight (who by the way has started a similar reading campaign for American Teens that I also support)
-Heller Series and Little Town Series - by Australian author JD Nixon
-Amulet and Amulet 2 - Beautifully mixed Erotic/Suspense books by S. Wolf
-Don’t Call Me Baby and Don’t Shed A Tear - by Betty Byers
-The Galadima Conspiracy- by Nigerian author Dan Abubakar
-Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus - by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
-The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - by the late Stieg Larsson (I’m currently reading the sequel and will eventually take down the third part)
-Fifty Shades of Grey - be E L James (I’ll delve into the next two parts soon)

I’m also reading more books, especially by Nigerian authors, and some at the same time, the same way I write more than one book at a time.

For writing, imagination is limitless, and I strongly believe that readers should also bask in the limitless imagination by experiencing the new world in which they are immersed when they read. When I was writing “Twenty-One Days,” I had just one thing in mind: Develop a long term reading habit and promote reading culture in Nigeria, especially among Nigerian youths around the world (to those who already have a good reading habit, Kudos!).

So now, I want you to challenge yourself to take 21minutes each day to read for fun. Find a new fictional novel; don’t limit yourself to a particular genre or author, discover what is out there because A LOT is out there. Also, you can start with my new book “Twenty-One Days.”

For more about the book, click HERE and for an interactive and more personal reading, where you can ask me questions and give feedback, click HERE 2.

The book is available in paperback in Nigeria in Terra Kulture, on Konga.com, coming soon on the NYSCMART and in bookshops around Nigeria.

For direct or bulk purchase, please email “laybels@gmail.com” for direction.

For Nigerians in diaspora, you can get an e-copy from online distributors: iBook store, B&N, Smashwords, etc., and print versions on Amazon.com, B&N, CreateSpace.com etc.

If you decide to take the reading challenge, tweet with “#21minutes Challenge“ (Title of book you are reading and the author’s name). Also spread the word; let us help to bring reading for fun back to our younger ones.

Thanks,
CMO.