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Thursday, April 26, 2007

The benefits of novel reading

From a scientific perspective, novels help us interact and relate. So says a study featured in Psychology Today. Here is the intro to an article at

Eighteen years ago, when Julia Simpson was pregnant with her second child, she read the novel Beloved.

"Toni Morrison took me into a world that I, as a white, middle-class woman, would never, ever experience. And yet I could connect to Sethe as a mother," says Simpson, a high-school English teacher in Massachusetts. Seeing a bit of herself in all the characters, Simpson came to realize she "could be any one of them if tested in such extreme ways." Beloved, she says, helped her become more human in her judgments of others.

A particularly interesting fact:

Reading fiction, it turns out, is a surprisingly social process. A study from the Journal of Research in Personality showed that frequent readers of narrative fiction scored higher on tests of empathy and social acumen than did readers of expository nonfiction. A follow-up study showed that fiction could actually hone these skills: People assigned to read a New Yorker short story did better on a subsequent social-reasoning task than did those who read an essay from the same magazine.

Read Reading Between the Minds.


Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 4/26/2007 03:56:00 PM Permanent Link     | | Home


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