French minister’s novel behaviour

France’s culture minister says she has not read a book in two years, but is that wrong?

French Culture minister Fleur Pellerin says she hasn't had time to read a book lately. (Bertrand Guay / AFP)
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Fleur Pellerin, France’s culture minister, has made what many deem to be a grave error. During an appearance on French TV she admitted that she had not sat down and read a book for more than two years, adding that she “read a lot of legislative documents, I read a lot of news ... but I read very little”. Ms Pellerin became a junior minister with responsibility for France’s digital economy in 2012 and assumed control of the culture and communications portfolio earlier this year. Her disclosure has prompted calls for her to resign.

Those cries of outrage expose the expectations that are placed upon modern politicians and a curious line of argument that goes beyond whether a culture minister should actually have an interest in culture to do her job effectively. These days, a politician’s evenings are more likely to be filled with policy than a page-turning novel. Ms Pellerin’s answer was not the one many wanted to hear, but it does suggest she is committed to her job.