Have you ever told a lie about having read a book? I ask this question of my undergraduate students in our first lesson of term, and they bond over never having really read MiddlemarchGreat ExpectationsDon Quixote etc. This activity is a good comical icebreaker for a literature degree, yet in seriousness it becomes a method of exposing reading as a social act. The question is: why should we want to tell lies about reading? How do they expose the social contract that books represent as treasured objects, beautiful gifts given, unexplained passages of time that are equally shared, economized and exchangeable public goods?

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Continue reading here: http://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/private/is-reading-good-for-you/


Originally published in TLS, February 8th 2017. With thanks to Michael Caines.