Just as watching an episode of “Breaking Bad” before going to bed can give me nightmares, or catching up with the angst on “Nashville” can make me restless, now Science magazine confirms that reading “literary fiction” makes me better able to empathize and improves my emotional well-being. I always knew Anne Munro was better for me than Gillian Flynn.
In her article for the New York Times Health section –For Better Social Skills, Scientists Recommend a Little Chekhov Pam Belluck notes that a recent study reported in Science “found that after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence — skills that come in especially handy when you are trying to read someone’s body language or gauge what they might be thinking.”
Literary fiction has that sly factor of making the reader digest, assimilate, infer possibilities – even think. Belluck offers authors like Chekhov and Louise Eldrich as examples of literary authors. I might add Kent Haruf, Jane Gardham, Ian McEwan. Who would you include?