Since 2016, I have been experimenting with reading 100 non-fiction books per year. I started the challenge while I was still a resident in my country of origin: Nigeria. Executing the goal was a bit tough as I had to buy most of the physical books due to a lack of functional public libraries in the country. In 2018, I relocated to Canada, and that move changed my goal of executing potential, including the 100 books reading challenge. I was coming from a place of lack to a country with a vast public library network.
Canada, with a population of 38 million people, has 642 public library systems with 3,350 branches. Nigeria, with a population of over 200 million people, has 316-550 public libraries across the 36 states and 774 local governments. Lagos state, the commercial nerve center of Nigeria, has 12 public libraries for a population of over 20 million people.
With a vast public library system, Canada was a personal development heaven for me and I have tried to explore the opportunity to the best of my ability. The benefits of having a public library card in Canada include:
- Borrow books, movies, and music.
- Access to digital resources for free, such as Hoopladigital, Overdrive, Linkedin Learning, Oreily, and Kanopy, among others.
- Access to a vast array of Online Databases.
- Free Language Learning, Newcomers, and Career Development services.
- 540 Canadian libraries provide free Wi-Fi and support.
- Over 300 libraries offer technology training classes attended by nearly 16,000 people each month.
The impact having access to a public library has had in my life cannot be easily quantified. I have always been curious while growing up, but limited access to a functional public library system stunted my personal development growth. But since moving to Canada, I have been able to speed up my learning and self-improvement goals. With my library card, I can borrow up to 30 books every 30 days get access to a wide array of digital resources such as online databases, online learning platforms, digital archives, language learning materials, and a place to study and strategize.
If you want to get me to light up, start a conversation around books and public libraries. One of my long-term goals is to help build a physical/digital public library system across sub-Saharan Africa and promote lifelong learning. As Mark Twain once quipped, “Do not let your schooling interfere with your education.” But sadly, we live in a world where most people don’t know where the public library is and would rather pay over $200 for various streaming services than get a free library card.
Bill Russell is the Winningest NBA player of all time, with eleven rings, and he is widely considered to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Russell was the centrepiece of the Boston Celtics dynasty, which won 11 NBA championships during his 13-year NBA career. Russell was an avid reader, and he considered his library card to be his most prized possession as a teenager growing up in Oakland, California. In his 1968 basketball memoir, Go Up for Glory, Russell describes his love for reading and how books shaped his philosophy of life. He writes:
“One of my most prized possessions as a teenager in Oakland, California, was my library card. I went there every day. One day, I was reading a chapter in a book about the American Revolution. A sentence jumped out at me: “Despite the hardships they suffered, most slaves enjoyed a higher standard of living and a better life in America than they had in their primitive African homeland.” I was repulsed by the idea that life could be better without freedom.
Patrick Henry once said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” The most significant word in that quote is “me.” Patrick Henry kept slaves before and after he said that famous quote. I think it was during that time, when I was teenager in Oakland and spent a lot of time in the library, that I began to develop my own ideas about race. My father, Charlie, and my grandfather Jake helped shape my early views. They both preached nonviolence—until the first punch is thrown.”
Later I was influenced by people like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. They had the most passion among Black national leaders, and I was drawn to both of them. I understood Dr. King’s nonviolent approach but refused to reject Malcolm X’s more militant view. I took ideas from both men, then mixed it with my own philosophy: A man without integrity, belief, or self-respect is not a man. And a man who won’t express his convictions has no convictions.”
- Daily Calm with Tamara Levitt – Self-Competition
- Rather than ignoring your limits, listen to them.
- Daily Jay with Jay Shetty – Luck
- Luck may seem like a superpower but it often comes down to noticing opportunities. Part of it comes down to paying attention, being present at the moment, and observing what is around you. Having an opportunity mindset, assuming that opportunities are all around you. The wider you cast your net, the more luck you are liable to catch.
- Be open, expose yourself to a variety of people and ideas, both of which can enhance your luck.
- Daily Trip with Jeff Warren – Into Me See
- The Hidden Risks of Meditation — Dr. Willoughby Britton | The Tim Ferriss Show
All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.