It is a well-known fact that reading supplies our brain with new information about the topic at hand. What about reading fiction? Could it have more benefits that non-fictions books or a different impact on our intellect?
Scientists have found over the past years some interesting results about fiction readers. According to Bob Dougherty, neuroscientist and research director at Stanford Center for Cognitive and Neurobiological Imaging (CNI), “the right patterns of ink on a page can create vivid mental imagery and instill powerful emotions.”
Readers of fiction are more empathic towards others. Here’s how: by engaging with different stories and putting yourself in the shoes of a character, you somehow ‘take on the emotions they are feeling’. You get to experience new approaches that could be informative and influential on your interactions with people.
In other terms, fiction readers could make better friends as they are more sensitive and tend to be further aware of the emotions of others. Take for example, readers of the Harry Potter series. According to a study, children and university students who identify with Harry are less prone to prejudice. They tend to react with sympathy towards marginalized groups in modern society, in particular immigrants and refugees.
With the vast amount of fictions genres and innumerous titles, are there specific books you should read to expand your mind?
Another study conducted by psychologists David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano indicates that some stories more than others amplify the beneficial effects of reading fiction. In their experiment, they examined the difference between reading literary fiction and popular fiction. In lit fiction, characters are “complex, ambiguous, difficult to get to know, etc. (in other words, human) versus stereotyped, simple…” in pop fiction.
In conclusion, reading any type of books, whether a fiction or non-fiction, stimulates your mind but reading fiction opens up your world to new emotions and ideas while reading challenging books like literary fiction amplifies this effect.
So, the next time you head to a bookstore, instead of picking up a copy of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, choose literary classics like ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, ‘The Great Gatsby’ or ‘Great Expectations’. There is plenty to choose from and endless options that will suit all tastes.