Reading to get away from it all

Reading to get away from it all

September is here, so it’s time to get cracking on study plans and reading lists. Of course, the end of summer also means the end of summer beach reading, indulging in those novels with a strong narrative that drag you effortlessly from page to page as you laze in the sun.

A great standby is the thriller or murder mystery. It’s a clichéd format, but wonderfully seductive. I’m not a hard-core enthusiast, but I know enough to recognise the difference between the classical village-set Agatha Christie format where circumstances could have forced anyone in the close-knit community to kill, and the more American format where finding the murderer amongst a huge population require the best sleuthing skills, these days aided by CSI-like technology.

However much we want escapism, we also demand authenticity. We will generally put up with far-fetched plots but demand consistencies in other areas. It is fine that the hero jumps from a fifth floor window and lands in the back of a moving truck full of mattresses to escape his (and it is usually his) adversaries. But we bristle if we know that he couldn’t have boarded a train in Reykjavik (there aren’t any passenger trains in Iceland) or nobody could drive from Paris to Berlin in three hours. Facts count.

So, as a student of Politics and International Relations, which summer reads combine page-turnability with authenticity?

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