In the grand scheme of academic life, leisure reading might seem like a luxury or a time-waster. But did you know studies suggest immersing the brain in fictional stories—whether through books, audiobooks, movies, or television—can improve empathy, creativity, concentration, attention span, critical thinking, and even academic achievement? And would you also be surprised to hear that it encourages contemplation and ethical behavior as well?
Research suggests that fiction, in particular, benefits us socially. Psychological researchers Raymond Mar and Keith Oatley contend that fiction simulates an abstract version of the world that allows us to act out life scenarios and interact emotionally with others. We immerse ourselves in an imaginary environment that is both similar and contrasting to the one in which we may actually live. This deep experience causes us to learn about people and places outside of our own sphere, widening our perspective and heightening our potential for empathy and social understanding.
So before you take off for break, consider stopping by Viterbo Library to peruse the recreational reading collection or browse online.
Happy free time and happy reading!
Gallik, Jude D. “Do They Read for Pleasure? Recreational Reading Habits of College Students.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 42.6 (1999): 480-88. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 Dec. 2013.
Gottschall, Jonathan. The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. Print.
Mar, Raymond A., and Oatley, Keith. “The Function of Fiction is the Abstraction and Simulation of Social Experience.” Perspectives on Psychological Science (Wiley-Blackwell) 3.3 (2008): 173-92. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 Dec. 2013.