Why are we trying to start a bookshop? Partly, it is because reading makes us nicer people! Recent scientific research in the journal, Science, on the brain’s response to reading literary fiction found that reading is not just an escape, it is more of a rehearsal. It improves empathy, enhancing the ability to detect and understand other people’s emotions, a crucial skill in navigating complex social relationships.
This can take a physical form. In another study, neuroscientists mapping the brain on MRI scans have discovered that reading fiction taps into the same brain networks as real life experience, lighting up the same regions of the brain, and living vicariously through the characters at a neurobiological level. It appears that reading fiction can improve the reader’s ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes and flex the imagination.