The Hard Facts: Fiction Readers Have More Social Skills

Not that I need a reason for reading all the novels I do, but it’s still interesting to know there are added benefits beyond the imagination, excitement, travel, gripping plots, mental challenges, and adventure that fiction provides.

MWF Seeking BFF

It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.

“Over the past decade, academic researchers…from York University have gathered data indicating that fiction-reading activates neuronal pathways in the brain that measurably help the reader better understand real human emotion — improving his or her overall social skillfulness.” (The Business Case for Reading Novels“; Harvard Business Review Blog Network, 1/12/2012)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone (almost always a man) tell me that he doesn’t read fiction because he “can’t justify reading about something that didn’t happen.” Escaping into a novel feels like a luxurious indulgence, apparently, while reading non-fiction seems more educational and purposeful. Non-fiction, so the argument goes, will make you smarter, and that’s not necessarily the case for stories that are—gasp!—made up.

Despite being a writer of non-fiction, I love novels. I relish being…

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