New Study—Books make us more human

happy-book1Feeling guilty about all the reading you do ... and all the chores you DON'T do? Relax. It turns out you're a finer person for keeping your nose in a book. So keep reading.

A new study shows that books enable us live up to our better selves. The researchers, Emanuele Castano and David Comer Kidd, found that people gain empathy and social intelligence after reading certain kinds of books. 

What kind of books? Well, not the blockbuster kind. So nix the heart-thomping thrillers or the steamy romances. The study refers specifically to "literary fiction"—well-developed characters and storylines that explore complicated human relationships—the very kind of books we read in book clubs.

books-make-us-human0One of the books used in the study was Round House by Louise Erdrich, which (at the time of this writing) happens to be the 3rd most requested book on LitLovers. (See our Popular Books page.)

There's a reason why books like Round House matter. According to the New York Timesarticle:

[L]iterary fiction leaves more to the imagination, encouraging readers to make inferences about characters and be sensitive to emotional nuance and complexity.

You can read the full story in the NY Times HERE. It's fascinating and well worth the time.

For Book Clubs
: Consider taking time during one of your meetings to talk about the books that have altered the way you perceive people and the world around you. Which books have enlarged your ideas about life and your role in it?


+1 #2 Laure Covert 2013-11-13 17:05
I am indebted to you for researching and writing about this subject because it backs up my contention about the benefits of reading "classic literature" - both children and adult fiction with fresh perspective.
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+1 #1 Michal Ann McArthur 2013-11-12 11:49
Great article. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Reading literary fiction has significantly enriched my life, but sometimes I almost feel guilty for spending large chunks of time "doing nothing," as my conscience often terms my hours spent with a great book like "Olive Kitteridge." But at last I have scientific proof to support something I've always known even if I couldn't prove it: reading literary fiction is good for me.

Got any articles on the benefits of wine and chocolate while reading those literary novels?
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