It’s a rainy day and you have nowhere to go, so you pull out your favorite novel and start reading. What many may not know is that by reading a fictional novel, you learn to empathize with others.
Americans are starting to care less about others and more about themselves, says the American Psychological Association.
A potential solution could simply be to read more fiction.
“Reading literary fiction helps people develop empathy, theory of mind, and critical thinking,” according to the Harvard business review.
We are surrounded by works of fiction on a daily basis, whether it be television shows, novels, films or comics.
“In these narrative worlds, we experience simulated reality and feel real emotions in response to the conflicts and relationships of story characters,” Canadian psychologist Keith Oatley said in a statement. study he conducted.
It’s the connection between the reader and the characters that allows us to empathize with them, enter their world, and move through their experiences.
“It is increasingly clear that reading stories, even those explicitly labeled as fiction, is far from a meaningless leisure activity that ends when you close the cover of a book,” said said Oatley.
Additionally, Melissa Adams-Campbell, NIU’s Director of Undergraduate Studies and Associate Professor of English, is captivated by literature and the emotions a person can experience while reading.
“I think English has always been, for me personally, a place where I can escape the troubles of whatever is going on in life,” Campbell said.
When you read a story, you are forced to reflect on the thoughts and actions of the protagonist, antagonist, and supporting characters, allowing you to do the same with your peers in the real world.
“If there’s a disaster, you might just want to hide on a couch with a blanket over your head, but a hero in the story might come out and be very brave and confrontational,” Campbell said. “You have to imagine other ways of being in the world and that, I think, makes you more attentive to how people act in the world of non-fiction.”
With October being National Book Month, there’s no better time than the present to pick up that book you’ve been putting off for too long, dust off the cover, and start reading.