Wrought-Iron Words: The Benefits of Reading Fiction

Wrought iron words are carefully selected, soft but tough, malleable, forged to the scalding point in the writer’s mind, then poured onto the page. With tong and hammer, he rolls, stretches, shapes, and orders the words into snippets, sentences, and paragraphs. Meaning fused into life, just waiting to be discovered.

Richard L. Fricks

We all need to be more empathetic, more open-minded and accepting (aka, less judgmental), more creative, and more courageous.

The good thing is, we can accomplish all this without a brain (or heart) transplant.

Look at what I discovered during this morning’s reading session:

“Researchers have found tangible benefits to reading fiction…

Immersing yourself in a good novel increases your understanding of self and others. Studies suggest this is due to something called embodied cognition, in which your brain thinks your body is doing something it isn’t.… Specific to reading fiction, your brain drops you into the body of the protagonist, experiencing what they experience, which expands your capacity to put yourself in another’s shoes.

In addition to increasing empathy, neurobiological research proves that reading fiction changes the biology of the brain, making it more receptive and connected.

Reading novels also makes you more creative and open-minded, gives you psychological courage, and keeps your brain active and healthy.

The therapeutic value of reading novels is so profound that it has birthed something called bibliotherapy, in which clients are matched with a literary fiction designed to address what is ailing them, from mild depression to a troubled intimate relationship to a desire to find a work/ family balance.

Anyone who belongs to a book club has likely experienced a version of fiction’s healing powers. The value of reading is even more significant if you’re a writer. Imagine being a chef who eats only chicken nuggets, a carpenter who refuses to look at buildings, or an orchestra conductor who doesn’t listen to anything but commercial jingles.

Such is the problem for a writer who doesn’t read regularly and widely. Books are the maps to your craft. According to Stephen King, ‘If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.’ I agree.”

From Rewrite Your Life: Discover Your Truth through the Healing Power of Fiction by Jessica Lourey.

Author: Richard L. Fricks

Former CPA, attorney, and lifelong wanderer. I'm now a full-time skeptic and part-time novelist. The rest of my time I spend biking, gardening, photographing, reading, writing, and encouraging others to adopt The Pencil Driven Life.

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