El País - Spain | 09/01/2015

Reluctance to read is a Spanish disease

According to a recent survey by Spain's national opinion research institute the CIS, 35 percent of Spaniards read "seldom or hardly ever". These figures reflect a sick society, the left-liberal daily El País observes: "Nobel literature laureate José Saramago once said that reading is good for your health. This means Spain is a sick country. ... Let's take a look at the sickness of the head of government who, asked about his reading habits during the election campaign, answered that he reads a sports magazine. The times when political leaders talked about books in parliament are a thing of the past, and the public television channels have banished the literary reviews to the worst broadcasting slots, as if they were allergic to them. ... The average Spaniard reads 8.6 books per year, while in Finland the average is 47 books. They're more healthy there. As Samarago predicted, the Spaniards don't care much about their health." (09/01/2015) - Netherlands | 07/01/2015

Houllebecq's Islam novel hits a nerve

Michel Houellebecq's new novel Soumission (submission) about France under Islamic domination is not a real provocation, the liberal daily writes: "Despite all the discussion before it came out, Houellebecq's new book doesn't hurt and it's not really provocative. What is shocking, however, is the serenity with which France [in the novel] acquiesces to the new political and religious leaders. France is in such a desperate state of moral decay that no one really gets upset. ... Soumission is not a frontal attack on Islam along the lines of some of Houellebecq's earlier statements - on the contrary. At best it's a political novel of ideas with a wake-up call: what is the future of our civilisation - and our democracy - worth to us?" (07/01/2015)

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