Reading literary fiction — even something as short as 10 pages — can increase empathy, improve decision-making and make people more comfortable with uncertainty, suggest two new Canadian studies. In other words, the very pursuit we use to distract us from real life might actually make us better at living it.
Lead author Maja Djikic said the findings have particular repercussions for our schools, where she notes a “dangerous trend” away from the arts and soft skills. This observation dovetails with a January report from Scholastic showing that reading for pleasure on a regular basis (five to seven days a week) is indeed a waning activity among youths, having fallen to 34 per cent in 2012 from 37 per cent two years earlier.
BY MISTY HARRIS,
Reading Other Minds: Effects of Literature on Empathy; Djikic, M., Oatley, K., & Moldoveanu, M. C.; The Scientific Study of Literature; Issue: 3(1); 2013; Pages: 28-47