Good Reads

Fiction Readers Have More Empathy




The love of books may begin at any age, but for most, it starts in childhood. Now, scientists are studying the effects of reading on the brain with MRIs, polls, surveys and experiments. The results indicate that readers of fiction are more empathetic toward others. By engaging with a story, they are temporarily placing themselves in a character’s shoes, thus fostering empathy in real life, and literary reading amplifies this effect.

According to a Stanford University study, reading a challenging book also helps us become smarter, as well as more empathetic. By attempting to tackle harder books, we create new connections in our minds that we might not have done otherwise. Neuroscientist Bob Dougherty remarks, “The right patterns of ink on a page can create vivid mental imagery and instill powerful emotions.”

David Comer Kidd, author of another related study, observes, “Like opening a window to let fresh air into our home, literature opens up our minds to the myriad ideas that we wouldn’t be able to experience on our own. We can pause to analyze the experiences depicted as if they were our own, expanding our experience of the world.”

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Green Surfing

Ecosia, a German Internet search engine, has planted more than 52 million trees in the last 10 years by diverting its advertising revenue to funding new trees worldwide.

Aqua Breakthrough

Chinese scientists have used ultraviolet light and graphitic carbon nitride to purify two and a half gallons of water in one hour.

Far Out

The outermost region of the Earth’s atmosphere has been newly determined to reach out much farther than the moon.

Baby Balking

The U.S. birthrate has been falling steadily, partly because prospective parents are worried about the increased frequency and intensity of storm, drought and wildfires, as well as about growing geopolitical unrest and resource scarcity.

Revamping Recycling

China, a major importer of recycled waste, is rejecting shipments contaminated by greasy pizza boxes, polyethylene-lined disposable coffee cups, and plastics like yogurt cups and butter tubs.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags

See More »This Month

Simple Fix for a Complex Dental Problem

Most people think that crooked, overcrowded teeth are simply the result of bad genes, but the truth is that they are the product of our own behavior.

Local Foods Brings Farm-to-Table to Retail Space

The new Local Foods, in Bucktown, is not a co-op, but an all-day, everyday farmers’ market, located at 1427 West Willow.

Workshop to Explore How Digestion, Sleep and Hormones are Interrelated

Reneé Barasch, a digestive health specialist, and Amy Andrews, a health detective and functional hormone specialist, are presenting a transformative workshop.

A Farewell Tribute

Natural Awakenings Publishing Corporation’s family of 95 magazines bid a fond farewell to company President Larry Levine, with many joining in on a call and sending notes, prayers and good thoughts prior to his passing on September 23.

Shiatsu Course Enrolling for January

Zen Shiatsu Chicago is offering an 18-month training course that fulfills the educational requirements for Asian bodywork certification and Illinois massage licensing.

New Services Help Clients Reach Goals at Comfy Fitness

The staff at Comfy Fitness understands that achieving a truly healthy lifestyle is about more than just exercise. To better support our clients in overcoming the most common obstacles, we are excited to introduce two new services: fitness nutrition and behavioral counseling.