When reading books, the gaining of knowledge is only half the work. The rest you need to do, and in order to fully benefit from the book you need to apply that knowledge. At The Book Neighbourhood, we emphasise the need for execution, or else that knowledge may be worthless.
We’ve designed and written this handbook that will help you get into the habit of reading for benefit. In it you’ll choose the different life areas you want to focus on, choose (with our help) books that are relevant and resonate with the challenges you’re facing, and offer step-by-step guides on how to extract as much information as you can from the books and apply it to your life for improvement, development and growth. It is a well-organised handbook that will help you restructure your life and organise it in a way that makes it easier to approach your problems with more clarity and with more useful tools – from books.
We will be announcing the release date soon and hope it will change your life.
While you wait, you can download our free guide to help you get into the habit of reading. Download the Read Like A Boss guide here, and warm yourself up for the handbook by working your way to becoming an avid reader.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
I get asked a lot about how I got into the habit of reading. When did I start? Which books got me hooked?
I don’t really have a definite time or book title. All I know is that I found myself in an environment of books at a very young age and have always loved them. I grew up in a house of readers. Books had always been there and it was just a normal thing to grab a book and read. I can’t even remember if I was read to as a child but I do remember grabbing random titles off the shelf and spending hours glued to the pages.
I’d say out of everyone at home, my aunt was my biggest bookfluence. She was always reading and she was the one who collected and filled up our shelves. She worked in libraries a lot, in work that involved information and today she still refuses to retire from her library specialist job.
Although I used to read whatever I wanted without any strict rules, she would always bring almost age appropriate books. I say ‘almost’ because the books were for young readers but they were usually a few years ahead of me but not adult reading. For example, I read Sweet Valley High when I was around eight or nine.
I remember how in primary school I’d spend a lot of days during lunch and afterschool at the library. I still remember how insanely obsessed I was with the series AlphaPets. I have a feeling if I saw them on a shelf today I would definitely buy the complete set. Yes, that obsessed.
Even though there weren’t strict rules on what I could and couldn’t read, there were definitely books I knew I’d get into trouble for reading. I used to hide a copy of Mills & Boon and climb up a tree for privacy or sit in the outside toilet pretending to have a long constipated visit.
We also had a collection of the incredible Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. I managed to salvage a few of them. Yay! They were such easy and convenient reads – a collection of abridged best-selling novels. Yes, please.
My Papa was also a great bookfluence in my life. I used to read his collection of books which were mostly on things he was into, such as meditation, personal development, spiritual wellbeing, and martial arts. In my teenage years, he used to buy me a lot of self-help books which I dreaded reading because I didn’t really understand much of them. He bought me a copy of Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking when I was in my early teenage years.
I also grew up watching my grandparents have their early morning cup of tea reading something. My grandma would read the paper from start to finish, every single article. My grandpa would also do a thorough read of the daily paper but he also had his own favourite genre. If he wasn’t busy working I’d find him with either a biography or a book on politics. Although his choice never interested me, it was the action of reading that I watched from a young age that contributed to my love of reading.
On the days that I’d visit my mom, I’d “borrow” some of her books. It was at her house where I met Jackie Collins and Danielle Steele. I’d read a bit of Steele and some I wouldn’t enjoy so much but Collins, man! I think my first of her books was The World is Full of Divorced Women but my absolute favourites were from the Santangelo series. I also remember how for the thrill of mischief I stole my mom’s husband’s copy of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and ended up falling in love with it. I did return it. I’m a reader, not an animal.
Then my favourites – comic books. For as long as I can remember, we always had a lot of those at home. I did enjoy Marvel and DC but I was addicted to Richie Rich, Asterix & Obelix, Archie, Scooby-Doo and many others. I was too young to even have any awareness of some of these comic books’ blatant racist shit. And do you remember MAD the humour magazine? I absolutely loved it. I didn’t even get most of the content but it made me laugh.
I don’t remember which particular book from my early reading got me hooked to reading and birthed my deep love for writing but I know the top ones – Marabi Dance by Modikwe Dikobe (I desperately want a copy), Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane and Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt.
Coming from an area where most households placed emphasis on reading as a classroom activity (a reading culture doesn’t always fare well in poor areas) and leisure books being so removed from their worlds, I am super grateful to have been brought up surrounded by books and people who were my reading models. They widened my view of the world and helped me become the person I am.
As it was done for me, I do the same for my children.
Use for at least 30 minutes a day and you’ll feel the ignorance slowly fade away.
Apart from people whose economic conditions prevent them from accessing the world of books, everyone else who has books available to them but chooses not to read, is choosing to live in the imprisonment of ignorance.
A lot of people think that full education, knowledge about the world and its affairs, are all learnt in school. School is excellent, it’s necessary for a lot of people but it doesn’t cover even half of what you’ll learn about life, the world, people and most importantly, about yourself.
When I was in varsity someone asked me why we were studying in the first place and I told him it was to get a degree so that we could get good jobs.
“No. School teaches us how to learn. When you leave this place, with your piece of paper you will see what a small fraction your degree plays once you get into the real world. You’ll have to find ways to learn more, to grow and to advance.”
I didn’t get it at the time but years later, trying to figure out how to learn, grow and advance in my career and personal life, I got it.
Books are the extra work you will need to make it as far as you wish to go. For some, with natural social smarts, books are all they need.
We’ve been convinced that without an academic qualification the world stops spinning, that we can’t make much of ourselves and that this gorgeous oyster is only for a special few. That is just fucked up on a cosmic scale!
As if that’s not enough, we’re sold all these addictive and time-wasting TV shows and movies that are entertaining but don’t do as much for mental stimulation and offer very little to improve our lives. It doesn’t help that now you don’t have to run home to catch your favourite show but you can access it from wherever, whenever.
Then we have social media, where hours fly while we salivate over the lives of people that are mostly far from reality. Giving us a load of shitty feelings about ourselves.
Then when we finally get our asses off the screen, we’re tired and can only manage the little that we can to survive – go to work, put food on the table and have a place to sleep. If you’re okay with that kind of half-lived life then don’t ever complain about others doing and having more, and you being stuck, unable, discouraged, uninspired, trapped, lost or BORED.
Books have been the gateway to a better life for as long as they’ve existed. They’ve been the compass to knowledge treasures, secrets that opened unknown doors to successes, victories and riches.
History has demonstrated how books and libraries have not just been banned but reduced to ashes to keep people from accessing certain knowledge. Leaders would burn books to keep people ignorant and what a shame it would be if that was no longer necessary because people choose to stay ignorant.
“No, no need to burn ‘em, the fools don’t read anyway.’
It’s not a chore as some lazy people have made it out to be. Half an hour a day is no chore at all. It’s not as time-consuming as it’s also made out to be. “I’m too busy, where will I find the time to read?” If you work out what you do with every minute of your day you’ll see how you can spare way more than thirty minutes.
In books you will find many stories that mirror yours, similar adversities and with ways to overcome them. When you read you give your brain a good workout, you take all that’s written and create a visual representation, stimulating the most important thing that dies as we get older – IMAGINATION. You gain general knowledge and a deep understanding of what is happening around you as well as within you.
How many times have you seen an article about how ultra-successful people credit reading as a big part of their success?
Let’s be clear about one thing; reading does not make you successful. Rather, it’s using the knowledge you acquire from the books that will take you from one level to another.
Choose your books wisely, find out about them from people who’ve read them and read reviews. Jump into it with enthusiasm, with a mission to walk out with life changing tools. Listen, it doesn’t matter if you’re reading fiction or non-fiction, you will find your treasure if you look well enough.