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Culture of Reading Survey: Prof Mpofu
Author: Faculty of Education
Published: 20/05/2024

​​A culture of reading survey amongst staff members of the Faculty of Education was initiated by ​​​Dr Shannon Bishop-Swart, lecturer in the Department of Curriculum Studies, to encourage staff and students to improve their literacy skills by s​haring what they love to read. Prof. Nhlanhla Mpofu, acting Vice Dean of Teaching and Learning, shared her responses to the culture of reading survey.

What is the title and author of your favourite book?

Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change by Stacey Abrams. This is my favourite book because it resonates deeply with me due to its empowering message about overcoming obstacles.

Please share a pleasant memory you have about reading. This could be a memory at any age, or about a book, or a special reading moment. 

My initial reading companion was my mother, who introduced me to the works of notable Ndebele writers. Consequently, reading holds a dual significance for me, representing both intimacy and a comfort zone.

What books are on your bedside table right now? Which of these are you enjoying, or re-reading, and why?

As an emerging bibliophile, my collection encompasses a diverse array of genres, ranging from children's literature, religion, and philosophy to scholarly works. It includes cherished childhood classics like Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and the complete works of Sigogo and Barbara Makhalisa, alongside African Pacesetters. I am presently finding joy in reading books authored by women that focus on topics of leadership and emotional intelligence.

What genre or style do you prefer reading and why? 

As I evolve, my taste in books has become quite diverse. I find pleasure in personal narratives infused with wisdom and philosophy. However, this doesn't mean I don't relish delving into the latest works of Sidney Sheldon or turning to the timeless prose of Ngugi, Achebe, the Bronte sisters or Wordsworth when I am in a contemplative and nostalgic mood.

Which book would you highly recommend?

I highly recommend Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth for its profound insights into the crucial role of passion and resilience in achieving long-term success. Duckworth explores the idea that perseverance, more than talent alone, is the key to reaching one's goals, providing practical advice for cultivating grit.

Which book had the biggest impact on you as a young person?

The Bible has had the most significant impact on me as a young person because of its profound teachings, moral guidance, and timeless wisdom. Its stories and lessons have provided a solid foundation for my values and beliefs, offering insights into compassion, resilience, and the importance of faith. The spiritual and moral guidance found in The Bible has been a source of comfort and direction, shaping my perspective on life and influencing my personal growth.

Which book had the biggest impact on you as an adult?

Surrounded By Idiots by Thomas Erikson has significantly shaped my thinking and understanding of human behaviour as an adult due to its insightful exploration of the four major personality types, presented in a highly accessible and engaging manner. Erikson's approach simplifies the complexities of human interaction, offering practical insights into communication and collaboration with individuals who have a different personality trait.

Do you have a favourite quote from a book?

I have two favourite quotes: “This above all: To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man" by Shakespeare, Hamlet. The second quote is from Ayi Kwei Armah, the author of The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born, “Alone, I am nothing. I have nothing. We have power but we will never know it, we will never see it work. Unless we come together to make it work."

Do you prefer to read from a printed book or from a device such as a kindle, laptop screen, or phone?

I have a preference for printed books because there is a certain intimacy that occurs within me when I flip through the pages as I read, a sensory experience that other platforms fail to fulfil. The tactile connection with the physical book, the sound of pages turning, and the scent of the paper contribute to a unique and immersive reading experience that digital formats often cannot replicate. The act of holding a book in my hands adds a tangible dimension to the joy of reading, creating a more personal and meaningful connection with the content.

Do you like to stroll through libraries or books shops? Which ones are your favourite and why?

I love leisurely strolls through libraries, bookshops, and coffee houses. In Africa, my favourite spot is Noom in Grahamstown/Makhanda. Noom serves as a comforting retreat with its unique blend of food, company, coffee, and cake. The antique furnishings and the aroma of old books contribute to its mystique, creating an alluring ambiance. I also cherish The Book Cellar in Chicago, Illinois, USA, a charming space that fosters a community-oriented atmosphere, bringing together a diverse array of writers and readers with food and drink to soothe a wandering soul.

What advice would you give to teachers today to motivate their learners to read?

Reading is not a subject to be taught but an immersive experience that is better conveyed through modelling and example. The intricacies of reading extend beyond mere instruction; they unfold in the shared moments of exploration, interpretation, and connection with the written word!