Reading a novel can seem like a solitary, private pleasure rather than a public-spirited act. But a recent study published in the journal Science found that after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence.
“Researchers say the reason is that literary fiction often leaves more to the imagination, encouraging readers to make inferences about characters and be sensitive to emotional nuance and complexity.” Here is a New York Times commentary on the study.
October 30, 2013 at 9:42 pm
So book clubs are making the world better! I think when we understand and empathize with a well-developed fictional character it helps us to better see the goodness in the imperfect people around us. Good novels also re-immerse us in universal truths that we often loose sight of in the grey zone of daily life, and this can help us live our lives with more purpose. I’m reading Kristin Lavransdatter right now, and have found some really good applications from the lives of the characters to my own life.