Questions for Tuesday

For Tuesday, you have three things to read: an excerpt from Francis Spufford’s The Child That Books Built (found on Moodle), an article from New Scientist (also on Moodle), Child That Books Built Coverand an article from The Telegraph on how fiction can help people understand social issues. Here are some questions to consider as you read:

  • Note lines from the Spufford chapter that struck you. How would you characterize his writing style? Does it work for you? Why or why not?
  • Was your experience of reading as a child as absorbing as his? Do you think you read with the same kind of absorption now as you did when you were younger?
  • Spufford says that fiction is more addictive, more “frictionless,” more involving than non-fiction. Do you find it easier to get “lost in a book” when it’s fiction? Which books have been particularly absorbing for you?
  • Spufford attributes some of his reading addiction to his sister’s illness – that he “was striking a kind of deal that allowed me to turn away” (16). Have you ever read to escape something difficult or unpleasant? Do you have “comfort reads,” like comfort food?
  • The Oatley article in New Scientist says reading fiction is far more than mere entertainment or escape. Do you think fiction serves as a simulation of reality? Can you think of fiction you’ve read that might provide insight into human behavior?
  • The Telegraph article covers a report that suggests fiction about world problems can have a greater impact than factual reports. Do you agree? If so, do writers of fiction have some responsibility to represent the world with a fair degree of accuracy in their stories? Is there a risk that people will be influenced emotionally and perhaps manipulated to believe something without having the facts?