Reading fiction is good for you. At least according to research conducted by psychologists at the New School of Social Research. While you aren’t likely to lose 10 pounds or eat fewer sweets by reading fiction, apparently you will become a better person and be more empathetic towards others.
According to an article published in the Guardian, psychologists David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano, “proved that reading literary fiction enhances the ability to detect and understand other people’s emotions, a crucial skill in navigating complex social relationships.” Their findings were published in the journal, Science, last October.
Note the emphasis on literary fiction, however. You won’t deepen your ability to understand others by reading any old book – that romance novel just won’t do. The participants in the study were given Anton Chekov and Téa Obreht.
While I need little convincing on the benefits of reading literature, I do resolve to read more fiction this year. I read many essays, articles, and news stories in 2013 that cluttered my brain with headlines and rather exhausted the mind. Letting go of digesting news isn’t easy, however, especially as someone who worked as a beat reporter.
I do intend to find more time to read fiction by spending less time on Facebook, something that New York Times op ed columnist Frank Bruni recently suggested.
In his column, he said, “It feels at times as if contemplation has given way to expectoration, with speed overtaking sense and nuance exiting the equation.”
In 2014, I’d like to allow my mind to meander, to explore, to rest in the space created by untold details in a story rather than be confined to scanning a newsfeed hunting for the next image or post to comment on or like.
I’m going to log off and delve into “Love,” by Toni Morrison.