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January 30, 2020 · 5 min read •
The benefits of reading a well-written work of fiction cannot be overstated but only very few people really know about it. Here are a few surprising benefits reading literary fiction affords us.
1. Improves problem-solving skills
When you are engrossed in a book, say teen fiction books, your brain is totally engaged, putting yourself in the shoes of the protagonist and thinking of different ways to get them out of their current predicament. Reading literary fiction is a totally immersive experience. As we read, our brain is reacting in the same way as if we are in the same situation as the characters are going through. Our brains constantly look ahead of the story to fill in the gaps information with different possibilities because the brain was programmed to look for patterns and it hates not knowing. It is for this reason that people refer to literary works as a “page-turner” because the reader simply had to know what happens next.
2. Helps us to experience empathy
Being able to empathize means the ability of a person to sense the emotions from other people as well as the ability to imagine what someone is thinking or feeling. Simply put
empathy is being able to put one’s self in other people’s shoes. Reading fiction exercises that ability by seeing through the eyes of the characters, going through their struggles, and rejoicing in their triumphs. You may not physically be in Hogwarts or Panem but your mind
does and you get to experience how the characters in all these fictional worlds live through reading. By extension, it will become almost second nature when seeing other people’s perspectives, giving you the insight to understand why they act a certain way.
3. Enhances our focus
More and more people are having problems when it comes to focusing. With all those gadgets and electronics that we have within easy reach, being able to focus is almost impossible. The ability to focus is a huge factor in our success in life but we need to practice in order to become better at it. One such way is through reading fiction books. Unlike nonfiction books, fictional literature involves a lot more ideas, feelings, and emotions that add to the narrative of the story. It’s also more structured which makes focusing on the story a lot easier.
4. Great use of time
Reading books, particularly works of fiction, is also a better use of our time than merely scrolling through our phones endlessly. Reading helps improve our vocabulary, increases
our memory, relieves stress, and it can also help us sleep better. Instead of grabbing our phones the next time we find ourselves with free time on our hands, it’s much better to grab a book instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media. We get more use of our time and we learn valuable skills as well.
5. Gives us inner peace
If you find yourself anxious or worried, one way to relieve some of the tension you’re feeling is through reading. Works of fiction are great genres to calm our troubled minds because the story plot of fiction narratives is clearly structured and easy to figure out which makes focusing easier. Reading fiction can become a form of escapism. When we read an engrossing story, we forget our problems, worries, and stress even for a couple of hours a day. Sometimes, reading for just a few minutes gives us enough time to process our problems and allow us time to think of an effective solution.
image courtesy: Eliza Brooks
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