If we are what we read, I could have been a cuttlefish in a ...

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If we are what we read, I could have been a cuttlefish in a gangbang

The question is are we? And if so, how do we burst our reading bubbles to broaden our outlooks on life?

Sunday Times Book Editor

I had an argument with my partner yesterday. It was nothing major, but I thought I had the moral high ground (which I’m still sure I do!). I relayed to him in a not-so-condescending voice that he cannot rely on the narrative he was brought up with and has to start looking at things from different perspectives. The only way I know how to do this, besides talking to loads of people from all walks of life, which now is quite difficult to do, is to read and read widely.

A friend also posted on Facebook an article about morality and reading fiction. That got my brain attempting circus tricks. It’s quite a nebulous subject to grasp and the study by Stanford University in the US that he posted was conducted in 2014. Basically the article’s conclusion was that while literature is capable of providing new perspectives and challenging our assumptions, imparting morality might not be one of its strong suits. “The best we can say about literature is that its effects are not reliable,” according to panellist Joshua Landy, co-director of Stanford’s Initiative in Literature and Philosophy. “As they say in the medical profession: results may vary.”

So yes, they may. That was seven years ago, and much of what and how we choose to read has changed drastically since because today, everything is an algorithm, even the books being advertised to you...

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