If I Hear You On NPR I'll Read Your Book

I mean not really but this morning on my way to work I was listening to NPR which featured author Sebastian Faulks and his book sounded very interesting.

"Sebastian Faulks A Week in December is a seven-day tour of London written in Dickensain style. Charles Dickens' rich cast of characters dealt with class conflict, wealth, poverty and true love. Faulk's modern-day characters deal with terrorism, greed, the internet and - because some things never change - true love".

They discussed what had inspired Faulks' novel and he went on to read this passage in his impossibly handsome voice - English accent and all - which basically sold me the book:

'And what about reading?' said Gabriel, as they move off again. 'You like reading, don't you?'
'Yeah, I do.'

'Dunno. I s'pose it's an escape from the real world.'

'But surely it's just the opposite,' said Gabriel. 'Books explain the real world'. They bring you close to it in a way you could never manage in the course of the day.'

'How do you mean?'

'People never explain to you exactly what they think and feel and how their thoughts and feelings work, do they? It's as though your daily life is a film in a cinema. It can be fun, looking at those pictures. but if you want to know what lies behind the flat screen, you have to read a book. That explains it all.'

'Even if the people in the book are invented?'

'Sure. Because they're based on what's real, but with the boring bits stripped out. In good books anyway. Of my total understanding of human beings, which is perhaps not very great...I'd say half of it is from just guessing that other people must feel much the same as I would in their place. But of the other half, ninety per cent of it has come from reading books. Less than ten percent from reality - from watching and talking and listening - from living.'
I've always had the school of thought that books are an escape from the real world - as they are - especially those that offer a different world like the Harry Potter series or A Handmaid's Tale. But I also think Faulks explains very well that even if you are taken to a different world via your book, it also inevitably and simultaneously explains something about your own world.

Listen to the NPR interview here and read a review of the book and tell me you don't want to read it too.

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