By Oluwatosin Ajewumi

Education stakeholders across the world have expressed concern about the declining interest in cultivating a reading culture, especially among youths – the so-called leaders of tomorrow. Can reading good quality, mind reforming and life transforming books be replaced with following social media updates? Are we transformed only by formal education or by reading to acquire a specific knowledge? How can reading spark off one's passion? Is it true that the power of books can transform lives? These are some of the questions that inspired the #Read2Riches Twitter hangout with Philip Amiola (@PhilipAmiola) and Damilola Fasoranti (@FashDami). The online event which held between 3pm and 6pm (GMT+1) on Saturday, September 6, 2014 provided a platform for robust interaction among book lovers across the world with participants asking questions, diagnosing problems and proffering solutions to reading problems.

Kicking off the discussion, Philip Amiola summarised the essence of the #Read2Riches tweet chat in one splendid tweet: “Reading isn't directly equal to riches. You get rich to the extent that you create value. Reading empowers you to create value.” Going further, he observed that reading is one of the cheapest, yet most powerful ways of adding value to oneself, adding that “Readers are leaders and knowledge is power. Those who don't know what to do will always be at the command of those who do.” In a similar vein, Oluwalonimi Briggs (@nimzybriggs) commented that reading adds value to talent and can be one way to sharpen one's skills. This view was further reinforced by Dr Ayodele Adeyeye (@DestinySanctum) who tweeted that reading is a cheap means of receiving the wealth of life time experiences and lessons of others, adding that reading makes wise!

Benefits of reading were discussed in remarkable tweets. Effects of not reading and other related matters were also discussed. The Question and Answer session was awesome. Damilola Fasoranti asked questions pertaining to reading while participants supplied various insightful opinions, suggestions and solutions. The session answered questions like; “I get so tired by nightfall and try to read only easy stuffs though I still doze off. Do I need special help?” “I'm a professional and always busy. Won't I have all the time to read when I retire?”

Question: I'm a professional and always busy. Won't I have all the time to read when I retire?

Answer 1: Reading is everything and it's everywhere. Even market women read their customers actions and facial expressions. [email protected]

Answer 2: “I have no time to read” is a defeating excuse. If you don't read as a busy professional, you will not read as a retiree. [email protected]

Question: I learn too slowly and it's hard to remember the things I read, what can I do?

Answer 1: Get a book and write new things you've learnt while reading. It's not easy to forget what you write [email protected]

Answer 2: Keep reading even if you learn slowly! When you put a basket under a tap, it may not hold water but it becomes cleaner! [email protected]

In addition to the scenarios painted by the host, participants also sought solutions to the challenges they have with reading. Adeolu Nathan (@idealnathan) expressed the concerns of many readers with his straightforward and practical questions:

Question: How do I maintain my concentration level?

Answer: To maintain concentration; relax, read in a quiet place and remove distractions. Ensure you're not hungry too.

Question: How important is making a summary of the books read to retaining knowledge gained?

Answer: Summarising the books we have read has a tremendous impact on retaining knowledge gained! Highly recommended!

Ayo Fakuade (@Deygee) called for practical steps towards encouraging and stimulating the reading culture. Noting that we have few writers today because there were few readers yesterday, he posited that the trend will continue unless readers emerge today to save the future. He also lamented the fact that Port Harcourt which is 2014 United Nations World Book Capital does not have a well equipped and up-to-date library. Other participants also shared highly inspiring and memorable tweets some of which are highlighted as follows:

With reading, the possibilities are limitless! You go places, visit people, learn a new skill when you break open a book! [email protected]

I asked someone when last he read newsletter, he told me it was the last time he bought suya, I almost cried. [email protected]

It's sad that the last time some people read a book was in school. Reading is not to punish us but to polish us [email protected]

Reading exercises our brain. [email protected]_Ajewumi

Great leaders are great readers. [email protected]

Without knowledge, there is no your 'rooms' can't be filled. Knowledge is concealed only for those who will dig. [email protected]

Reading improves your vocabulary which results to confidence when speaking. [email protected]

It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it (Oscar Wilde) [email protected]

Every book holds a promise [email protected]

Literacy (print, numeracy and oral) is vital for the complete development and health of any individual. [email protected]

Oh what great things I have experienced as I chose the life of reading as a second nature. [email protected]

When that inertia comes, smile at the possibility of a brighter future in those books and #Read2Riches. [email protected]

The future of reading is in ebooks, in Nigeria we must learn to write and read ebooks. [email protected]

Books open us to a world of possibilities. Readers always have options. Readers cannot be boxed in a corner. [email protected]

Advocacy is one way to go to get funding for libraries. We must begin by documenting the situation as it is. [email protected]

It's the pleasure of all of us to learn, unlearn and relearn today. [email protected]

You just added lubricant to my reading habit. Thanks for the talk. [email protected]

Weekly E-books for commute time are set now. I just reinstalled my PDF reader. #Read2Riches got me extremely fired up. [email protected]

#Read2Riches has inspired me to get started on my next professional exam preparation. [email protected]

After the tweet chat today, I got two books. We need to act on the things we hear and learn. [email protected]

These are just a tip of the iceberg compared to the hot conversation that took place in the hangout. The curated version of the chat can be accessed at https://storify.com/FashDami/read2riches-on-climb-hangout. By the time the #Read2Riches tweet chat came to an end with distribution of 100% discounted books, the conversation hadreached 8,043 Twitter accounts and generated 99,080 impressions. Participants assessed the inspiring and engaging conversation as a worthwhile investment of their time as they expressed their love for the event and the organisers in loads of beautiful tweets.

Oluwatosin Ajewumi is a Computer Engineering student at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. A budding inspirational writer and speaker, she blogs at www.tosinajewumi.blogspot.comand tweets from @tosin_ajewumi

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