The death of the novel?

I had a sudden fear the other day that stories are going to die. In a few decades, my generation will have taken over the world. We’re a very talented bunch. We can be in the middle of thirteen tasks at once, with music blaring and three separate text conversations sending our phone into a buzz. We can do our banking, buy make-up online, and stick a picture on Facebook of ourselves  beaming over a dozen perfectly puffed soufflés. And that’s just the first fifteen minutes of our day. But we also have a 160 character attention span. And a complete lack of patience. Which why you haven’t really read this paragraph properly at all–at 7 lines, it’s far too long. You probably read the first and last line and filled in the middle in your head. Just as you do whenever you skim the newspaper. Right?

In forty or so years, I wonder if anyone will sit down on a couch and feel the urge to flip lazily through the crisp pages of an unread book. Maybe there won’t be stories any more. Maybe there’ll only be dot points. Or worse, tweets.

Save the story. Read more books! Like these:

    

Also, Time magazine has a great list of ALL TIME 100 NOVELS that you can memorise and subtly drop into your next conversation, in order to sound like a complete tool.

PS. RIP Diana Wynne Jones. I never knew whether to look for you under J or W. Your magic was wondrous :)

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7 comments

  1. Sounds like you started a movement. Can I join ? I read the whole paragraph, swear ! Also, I didn’t realise Fight Club was based on a book ! How fascinating :-)

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    1. Haha! Of course you can join; you’d be an excellent person to have on board a movement ;P I haven’t actually read Fight Club either, but it has been sitting on my to-read list for a while =)

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    1. I know, it’s actually very frustrating! I have trouble reading a newspaper because half my mind is off worrying about all the other stuff I’ve got to do.

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  2. More reading to kids — that’s one way to foster the development of the ability to read through a paragraph and be able to understand a long and complex story (and, by extension, to think long and complex thoughts, and remember what a politician said two months ago). Read them stories, not just short little picture books. There’s an insidious notion out there that children can only be read “age appropriate” things written at their reading-to-self vocabulary; it does a lot of harm by boring them, rather than enticing them onwards by reading them stories they can’t yet read to themselves. The save-the-novel movement needs to recruit ’em young!

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    1. I agree entirely! I doubt I would have fallen in love with books if my mother didn’t start reading to me practically from infancy. I think large part of reading–and enjoying reading–is the realisation as a child that you can discover vast worlds of information on your own, from writers and thinkers all around the world. The wider you read, the more that realisation grows over the years.

      PS. I am watching your manga saga with great interest.

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      1. Thanks! Our progress on the manga should pick up over the summer … that’s the plan, anyway.
        Yes, my parents read to me from the start too, A.A. Milne and Beatrix Potter and The Hobbit. Another great value in nice long books is that being able to sit down with one, totally focused, allows you to retreat and recharge, which can’t be overvalued in this constant-contact world.
        Cheers!

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