Detail from The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy by Domenico Tiepolo (1773), inspired by Virgil’s Aeneid

“Fiction is like a Trojan Horse”, Fatima Bhutto explained at last year’s Edinburgh Book Festival, as it can carry uncomfortable, difficult or dangerous ideas in a form more easily accessed. Literature in all its forms has the capacity to change us without us even noticing.  It exposes us to new worlds, new ideas and new ways of thinking.  The Brisbane Writer’s Festival is over for another year, but it presented to audiences works of both fiction and non-fiction on the theme “This Way Humanity”.

In this age where there is increasing distrust in political leaders, a fracturing of traditional media and uncertainty around the accuracy of our information we often turn to science to provide us with the one ‘truth’, the answer, the solution to the problems we have created. Science has an important contribution to make but who is asking how these problems were created? What were the behaviours, the systems, the ways of thinking that brought us to this point and how do we need to change?

It is important therefore, that we also turn to the philosophers, the historians and the writers to ignite these discussions. Writers’, Book and Ideas Festivals are a great way to immerse yourself in these debates but reading alone or as part of a book club can open the mind to possibilities never before considered.  French philosopher and neuroscientist, Catherine Malabou, believes that ‘we cannot be without being affected’. Everything we read, see, feel, experience changes us.  Consequently, the more diversely we read and experience, the greater will be our capacity for understanding and some would say humanity. Even what is considered light fiction can highlight many social issues (check out Anita Heiss’ chick lit). So spend some time in the Community Library, chat to a Librarian and find yourself a great story to experience.

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