Do you read fiction? What if reading fiction made you smarter, more empathetic, and savvier in social situations, as well as in relationships? What if reading fiction was the key to success?
Women seem to know this intuitively. A year ago a story ran on NPR by Eric Weiner entitled: Why Women Read More Than Men.
The story began with this quote:
“A couple of years ago, British author Ian McEwan conducted an admittedly unscientific experiment. He and his son waded into the lunch-time crowds at a London park and began handing out free books. Within a few minutes, they had given away 30 novels.
Nearly all of the takers were women, who were ‘eager and grateful’ for the freebies while the men ‘frowned in suspicion, or distaste.’ The inevitable conclusion, wrote McEwan in The Guardian newspaper: ‘When women stop reading, the novel will be dead.'”
Eric Weiner also stated that: “Theories attempting to explain the ‘fiction gap’ between men and women abound. Cognitive psychologists have found that women are more empathetic than men, and possess a greater emotional range, traits that make fiction more appealing to them.”
Good for women! But men could greatly benefit from reading fiction, too.
A compelling argument is found at:
The article states that those who read fiction are better at reading people. “People who read fiction are more empathetic and able to judge people and social situations [more] than people who read non-fiction.”
It goes on to say that fiction exposes people to examples of the way people behave socially. Fiction also helps readers practice inferring people’s intentions and closely watching their relationships.
Books are where things are explained to you; life is where things aren’t.”
— Author Julian Barnes
I would wager that just about every piece of advice found in self-help books is relayed in novels, and more effectively because we humans are story creatures and we soak stories in like water. So the advice and insights come more naturally and go deeper when we absorb them through reading fiction.
Reading fiction is not only brain food, but it feeds our emotional IQs, as well. To think of all the hours I’ve spent reading non-fiction over the years when actually reading novels may be the key to success. I would like to think that my novel (Seeking Sara Summers) will help people become more empathetic, possess a greater emotional range and have greater success in life.
P.S. I am an ex-shrink who writes award-winning fiction. Check out my books here.