Reading Fiction: The Amazing Benefits It Gives Us

Amelia Vallejo Duque 9BF 

“One glance at a book and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you.” -Carl Sagan 

Reading is something often associated with productivity and intelligence, it is considered a better way of spending our time than stuff like watching TV or playing videogames. However, within a sector of the reading community specific types of books and reading material are disregarded as pointless and non-beneficial: fiction. Because how can you gain something from reading the stories of people that never existed, set in worlds we will never see. Well, studies show that the brain can gain a lot from it. 

Starting with a point that may be surprising for many, but logical to some, fiction helps with social-cognitive abilities. Social-cognitive abilities are mainly linked with empathy and open-mindedness. Reading stories from the perspectives of people of all different cultures, backgrounds, races, sizes, and even species is incredibly helpful in making us more understanding of other people. If you see a story directly through the thoughts of a person that has faced tragedy or oppression you understand them much more than if you were reading an article about how someone faced a calamity in their lives. 

Fiction also has amazing effects on the brain. Studies have shown that reading fiction actually has a greater impact on language capacity than reading non-fiction. If you think about it, this does make a great lot of sense. If you are living a story through someone else’s eyes and they see an incredible landscape they’re going to describe it using more adjectives than if you were watching a documentary about the same place. 

Other studies have shown that while reading a story, the areas of the brain linked with whatever activity a character in the story is doing light up. For example, if you were reading about someone running, the same part of the brain that starts working when you run will light up. This can be manipulated to create greater learning environments for children. Think about how much easier math would be if by reading a story about someone doing math you were training your own mathematical abilities. 

The last of the benefits I will talk about in this article is arguably the most important one: Health. Reading fiction is surprisingly good at keeping us healthy both physically and mentally. Right now, if someone were to give us an easy way to reduce our stress from all the work we had, most of us would readily take it. What if I told you that some studies prove that in about just six minutes, reading fiction reduces stress levels by about 60%? Neat, right? And if that wasn’t enough fiction has also been linked with a lesser probability of getting dementia and the loss of cognitive abilities in old age. 

While often overlooked, reading fictional novels and stories is quite beneficial for us in many ways. From making us better people, to reducing our stress levels by ridiculously high amounts, this type of reading should be practiced a lot more. Now that you have read all of this information, why don’t you go pick a fiction novel from a library or bookstore? 

Why intersectionality in fiction matters | Fix


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