Book Review

‘Me and my books’

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Dr Wilson Odiyo. PHOTO | POOL

Dr Wilson Odiyo

Assistant General Manager Corporate Affairs – Kakuzi Plc

What is your current favourite book?

I am reading two books; ‘Dreams From My Father’ by Barack Obama and Joan Thatiah’s’ ‘Letters to My Son.’

While my academic and scholarly pursuit continues to influence what I read, my reading is intertwined with a desire to unpack some of the deeper meanings of life coupled with the limitless abilities of humans in seeking to discover and achieve what their life purpose was meant to be. ‘Dreams From My Father’ is an exemplification of what insistence, persistence and consistency can achieve.

Why do you prefer books compared to the YouTube videos and Internet articles that most young people love?

Books are more absorbing, handier. They are certainly informative but can be entertaining at the same time. Above all, they are subject-focused. Whereas YouTube videos and brief articles on the Internet are more readily available, and they make only for light reading, they can lead to information overload due to the largely uncoordinated and unregulated nature of what is available.

Would you start a library in your village?

I am actually part of an initiative to build and equip a library at my village school, Lusi Primary School in Rarieda, Siaya. I want to inculcate a reading culture in children but also to immortalise the works and achievements of my late brother, Prof. John Ogony Odiyo, after whom the library will be named and who to date remains one of the most brilliant pupils to have passed through that school.

But my dilemma is whether to equip the library with e-resources and risk redundancy of the hard copy books or not to make e-resources available and risk apathy from the younger generation.

Do you re-gift books?

Hardly. I lend them out but certainly not for keeps. I have this habit of rereading from cover-to-cover books that I have previously read, including the Holy Bible. What is amazing is that each time I read a book, the fact that I am reading it for the umpteenth time notwithstanding, I will discover something new.

Is writing a book something that you'd do?

Yes, definitely. I have written 13 academic papers published in European and American journals mostly in the areas of strategic management, human resource management, and leadership.

How can books aid in the mentorship process?

There are great lessons to be learnt from other people’s experiences, especially how they overcame serious challenges. One must however ensure that it is placed in the correct media, where the young people can find it.

How do you carve off time to read?

I believe that we have enough time to do all those things we need to do. If you merely want to do it, you are unlikely to find time for it. I schedule time for my reading. I am not a morning person, so I stay up late to read. During this time there is minimal interference.

What does your bookshelf say about you?

It is a combination of life interest areas such as psychology, philosophy, religion and professional and academic areas of management and leadership.

Which books would you recommend to our readers to read at least once in their lifetime?

Stephen Covey’s ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ and, ‘Meditations on First Philosophy’ by René Descartes.

As early as 1637, Rene Descartes had already conceptualised the idea of non-stop change. Everything to him was in a constant state of flux. In every situation, he was only sure of his existence and only because he was sure that he was engaged in constant thinking. He coined the dictum Cogito, ergo sum, which in Latin means “I think, therefore I am.”

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Leonard Kibet. PHOTO | POOL

Leonard Kibet

Internal Audit Manager, Kenya Seed Company

What was your first interaction with reading a book?

I developed my reading skills at a tender age. This habit would get deeply ingrained, by extending to newspapers especially Sunday Nation column of Whispers by Wahome Mutahi and Taifa Leo for Kiswahili.

Later in life, I developed a taste for self-improvement books, and I recall reading ‘Gifted Hands’ by Ben Carson and ‘Thoughts to Build On’ by MR Kopmeyer. As an adult, on top of daily journaling, I ensure that I read a book each month, varied genres.

What is your current favourite book/author to read?

This year I will be turning 41 and in line with my life clock, I am currently re-reading ‘Halftime: Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance by Bob Buford. I also enjoyed reading ‘The Slight Edge’ by Jeff Olson, and any of Robin Sharma’s books.

Are libraries a thing of the past or we have come up with a hybrid solution?

There has been pressure to abide by the current trends mainly by millennials to have a digital library. I prefer a balance of the two, whereby I ensure every month I acquire two digital and two hard copy books.

How has reading gotten you to this place in your life?

Reading allows one to virtually travel the whole world and come to a better understanding of the thoughts that guided the lives of those who were great enough, persuasive enough, influential enough, and successful enough to be quoted. It's also been said that to know who you will be five years from today, look at the books you read and the company you keep.

Reading and daily journalling have brought me so far.

In what ways do you think the youth be inspired to read more books?

Reading as a skill should be inculcated as a culture early enough in life. That aside, I propose that libraries should be made available for youth and contents that are appealing and agreeable to youth should be made available. Given that the youths are aligned to the digital world, laptops, etc should be made affordable.

Would you pen a book? If so, what would it be about?

I have been so fascinated by the meaning of life and the fact all of us have a specific role in life, a role that is so elusive to the majority. Considering this I would then want to pen down a book titled ‘Cracking the Life Code’ I am also interested in authoring my memoirs and autobiographies.

Given life can be busy, and your different life roles, how do you carve off time to read?

Reading can be addictive, and there is always that urge to finish reading a book. My policy has always been to read at least 10 pages of a book in the morning before engaging in the duties of the day and 19 in the evening before retiring to bed. While travelling, I read to fill up the idle times in between.

Which books would you recommend to our readers to read at least once in their lifetime?

I would recommend Napoleon Hill ‘Think and Grow Rich’ and ‘Half Time Moving from Success to Significance by Bob Buford.