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Here’s a passionate argument, taking its cue from the Slow Food Movement, in favour of slow reading; not just any old fiction mind you but proper ‘literature’. Since it rates reading as the most virtuous of pastimes (and reading of the classics as the most virtuous of the virtuous) I should be won over, but….

A Slow-Books Manifesto – The Atlantic

I certainly agree that what we fill our minds with is as important as what we choose to eat; who wouldn’t compare the satisfaction and intellectual nourishment from a well plotted classic with the sense of well-being felt after a good meal? And as someone who seems to reach for the classsics (older and more modern) almost by default, I should be shouting loudly in favour of such a movement. I was especially taken with this line,

“…individuals who frequently read fiction seem to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them, and see the world from their perspective.”

If that is the case then EVERYONE should be reading more fiction as empathy is something we could do with a lot more of. I would only hesitate in being so severe, as Maura Kelly is, on other forms of entertainment and indeed reading. Great television shows can also illuminate, stimulate and make us smarter. They too can help us engage with contemporary issues and figure out where we stand. TV doesn’t have to be mindless entertainment. And surely a Slow Books Movement shouldn’t be confined to literature alone? What about all the polemists, academics and worthy commentators competing for our attention? Non-fiction is too important to omit.

So the premise is an excellent one but let’s not put too many barriers in place before we even begin. Less rules and more reading!