The Bible is the No 1. most shoplifted book, which leads me to wonder why ‘Thou shalt not nick from Border’s’ is not one of the ten commandments, especially since the original author has the most to lose. To be fair, it is sort of covered by number seven, Thou shalt not steal, as shoplifting is technically a form of theft, unless of course you are a student when it becomes a moral responsibility. Not many students steal The Bible though so it’s hard to credit its No. 1 status. I would have thought the most shoplifted book would be The Da Vinci Code or something by Genet. Not that it crossed my mind before today.
You’d have to have stolen your bible first, in order to read that you have just broken one of the commandments. Imagine the embarrassment on getting to that page. You seek guidance on how to best live your life and the very first step you take in that direction leads you to break one of God’s holy laws. Not the best start. Still, if you are Catholic, you can always pop off to the nearest priest and get it off your chest. If you do this, make sure that the priest understands that you do not wish him to physically remove the burden from your chest. Priests don’t see a lot of action and these misunderstandings are quite common. A priest is going to be hard pressed to devise a suitable punishment for you as absolutions all involve reading something from the book you have just stolen which wouldn’t really be appropriate. He will probably just tell you not to do it again, which is fine because once you have a bible, you are not likely to want to another one. It’s not as if there are new editions coming out all the time.
I discovered this handy fact in an article from Psychology Today which is actually about how people who read fiction exhibit higher levels of sociability. Here’s an excerpt,
‘Reading fiction, it turns out, is a surprisingly social process. A study at the Journal of Research in Personality showed that frequent readers of narrative fiction scored higher on tests of empathy and social acumen than did readers of expository non-fiction. A follow-up study showed that fiction could actually hone these skills: People assigned to read a ‘New Yorker’ short story did better on a subsequent social-reasoning task than did those who read an essay from the same magazine.’
This makes perfect sense as it’s quite difficult to attack someone with a book in one hand, unless of course you use the book as a weapon. You might want to finish the chapter before engaging in a brawl in which case the other person may well have lost interest in the argument and picked up a book of their own in the meantime. The article doesn’t go into detail about whether what kind of fiction you are reading has a bearing on the sophistication of your social discourse. It’s difficult to imagine that readers of Stephen King would display the same levels of empathy as, say Jane Austen devotees. It is more likely that King fans would want to exorcise you from their house than serve you tea and try to work out whether or not you are good enough to marry one of their daughters.
Lisa Zunshine (seriously), an English professor at the University of Kentucky, suggests that reading fiction helps us to hone the powers of detection we use in everyday life to gauge situations and work out what motivates the people we interact with. By getting into the heads of characters in books and trying to understand what they are doing and why, we practise scenarios that can be applied to real life. Some people take this quite literally, like this reader,
‘Victoria Long of Stockton, California, read Anna Karenina while going through a rough patch with her husband. Thinking of leaving him, she was drawn to the story of Anna running off with her lover. But Anna's eventual suicide, Long says, made her think of the ways that she was taking her life. "It made me realize that I should be happy with my husband, who loves me as much as Anna's husband, but fought for me instead of letting me go.’
It is a slightly risky strategy and we can be grateful that
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