I often hear people say that they don’t read fiction – it’s too ‘fictional’! They prefer real-life content and books that focus (seriously) on current issues or research rather than ‘made up stuff’.
But what they don’t realise is that more and more studies are finding that reading fiction develops the brain and awareness in ways that non-fiction doesn’t.
Any reading is good for us, of course – it develops our vocabularies and general knowledge – but reading meaty, character-driven fiction enables us to share the minds and emotions of others and to ‘live many lives’.
This is absolutely what I love most about fiction! It takes me into all sorts of other worlds and exposes me to experiences I will never have in my life. Taglines I use in my business are ‘thought-provoking fiction’ and ‘Empowering stories’: my work is all about creating worlds and stories, whether fictional worlds or deliberately creating our own realities.
Researchers like Keith Oatley, a novelist who is professor emeritus of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, claims that readers of fiction:
- get at least a short-term boost in empathy
- experience more human interactions than are physically possible
- may develop better social skills
- may develop more humane ways of thinking
- develop more positive attitudes toward stigmatized groups
- reflect on a range of behaviours
Maryanne Wolf, Director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University, found that during “deep reading,” parts of the brain involved in language, cognition, emotion and movement all become activated in ways that suggest readers are, in some sense, sharing the experiences of the characters. (You do need to read books based on complex characters and relationships rather than those that are mostly plot-driven.)
Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin, authors of The Novel Cure, propose that there’s a book for every trouble from anxiety to restlessness: “We truly believe that fiction has healing powers, and that the right book at the right time can have a massive emotional and sometimes physical effect on a person – the physical effect being a result of the emotional.”
Jump aboard an elephant and head to India (in your imagination) by reading Quest For Riches, a novel that builds self-awareness around your ‘money personality’ and financial habits – and takes you on a tour through India!
If you’d like to do the tour for real, join us in October 2020 when you can literally visit India and write your own stories at the same time.
And if you'd like to hear how reading and writing bonds my sisters and I, come along to our 'Bent Sisters' talk on Sunday 26th October (2019) at Mentone Public Library! More information next blog.
The information in this blog came from this article in USA Today.