The Truth About Fiction

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By Nick Bridwell (Customer Service)

I love a good book. And I’m talking about an actual physical accumulation of paper with printed words and bound up in leather or better paper. In particular, I love reading fiction. I love novels so much that I wrote one, but that’s not exactly what I’m writing about today. Now, if you’re reading all of your novels on the iPad, at least you’re reading something. But, studies have shown that you’re not retaining that knowledge as well as if you had gone old school. So, for the sake of today, assume I’m suggesting a good old fashion book made of paper and glue and ink. I want to talk today about a few of the reasons that reading fiction is important.

 

  • According to studies at Emory University, reading fiction can improve one’s “theory of mind”; the ability to attribute mental states — beliefs,intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc. — to oneself and others and to understand that others have perspectives that are different from one’s own. Essentially, to experience what others experience.
  • A study from Washington and Lee University has shown that reading literary fiction decreases racist tendencies and helps to break down stereotypes.
  • 50% of the unemployed between the ages of 16 and 21 cannot read well enough to be considered functionally literate. There is a direct correlation between income and literacy level.
  • Students don’t connect emotionally with on-screen texts. From the Huffington Post: “A 2012 study featured in the Guardian gave half its participants a story on paper, and the other half the same story on screen. The result? iPad readers didn’t feel that the story was as immersive, and therefore weren’t able to connect with it on an emotional level. Further, those who read on paper were much more capable of placing the story’s events in chronological order.”

 

Reading fiction is important to me because it allows me to better understand the human condition. It’s just an added bonus that the science can back up the art.

 

If you’re looking for a good book, here are five of my favorite:

 

  1. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway- A war vet and his pals run around Spain, befriend bull fighters, drink wine.
  2. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse – A young man gives up everything, has it all, and roams the world in search of…everything.
  3. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh – A painter looks back on the one summer at his wealthy friend’s estate and the long-term effects of that friendship.
  4. The Quiet American by Graham Greene – The personal relationships of a British war correspondent and a young idealist American play out over the tragic war in Vietnam.
  5. Arthur & George by Julian Barnes – Based on true events: In his old age, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the writer, must evoke the spirit of his famous creation, Sherlock Holmes, to free a local legal clerk from a crime he may or may not have committed.

 

Bonus: my novel, Nicholas Bridwell’s The Ties That Bind, a multigenerational five-family saga with a murder mystery twist set in Texas, France, and Japan!

 

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