If Everyone Were Reading Cervantes, Maybe We’d All Be a Bit Nicer

We know; it’s getting to be the hard part of the semester. Midterms are just over, or they’re just winding down, or you’re one of the smart few looking ahead a couple weeks to see them starting right back up again on the horizon. Finishing The Republic or Don Quixote, Paradise Lost or the Odyssey: an infinite task swallowed up in the huge necessity of just taking a break for one second. I mean, just look at those stacks of books! When you’ve got some free time, it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. When you don’t, it just plain isn’t. Don’t worry, we at the Core understand. We’re all readers ourselves, and we all know that feeling. Sometimes that last fifty pages might as well be the Everest of Infinite Jest.

But how about some fun facts to get you back in the mood to make it through those final pages. Jordan Bates, who writes the blog Refine the Mind (a bit of a pretentious name, but hey, the posts are what count), set out to tally up some of the great boons of reading literary fiction as opposed to non-fiction and not reading at all in this post listing three of the many benefits of reading fiction.

They found that fiction exposure correlated positively with empathy, while non-fiction exposure had a negative correlation. They also found that one’s tendency to become absorbed in a story was positively correlated with empathy. Their 2009 study re-confirmed the result and showed that the link persisted even after factoring in the possibility that empathetic individuals might choose to read more fiction.

One of three reasons Bates lists along with links to the articles citing the studies. This isn’t looking so bad now is it?

And if this fact doesn’t make you want to keep reading, I don’t know what will:

An intriguing 2013 study published in Creativity Research Journal demonstrated that people who have just read a short story have less need for “cognitive closure” than people who’ve just read a non-fiction essay.

As college students drawing ever nearer to graduation, we would just like to say “PLEASE LET US BE OK WITH AMBIGUITY”.

Oh yeah, and this:

Ok, so we’re getting a bit caught up in these pictures of books, but hey, we’ve still got Plato to deal with and nothing makes that seem a little more possible than a cup of tea. . . . Or some artistic coffee. . . .

(It’s meta cause the books are about coffee)

But enough pictures! Read that article! It’s not too long, and you’ll feel completely ready to bury your head in something a little more serious after. As for the studies about books benefiting you cognitively, what have you heard? Is reading actually worth something more than just knowing the cannon and being able to talk intellectually about it? Is there really something to these big questions, and is there something to what the very act of sitting down and reading a book can do? Let us know in the comments!

Oh, and one last picture!

SIgh…. Nothing like a good book.

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