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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Reading Fiction Breeds Compassion -- and I Hope Writing It Does Too

Scientific studies have confirmed what avid readers know: reading novels makes you a more warm-hearted person, more likely to understand your fellow human beings, and quicker to empathize with them. And not just ONE study, but several scientific studies, have identified activity in the brain that leads to this result. And not only fiction, but specifically literary fiction, was determined to have this salubrious effect on the human heart-mind.

As a reader of novels, and now a writer of one to hopefully come out in 2015-16, I feel better about devoting an embarrassingly immense amount of time to worlds that are described with a certain subtly disparaging tone as "fictional." But as psychologists at the New School for Social Research in New York say, "Fiction is not just a simulator of a social experience, it is a social experience."So those "pretend" worlds I lived in as a child, and still inhabit as an adult writer -- they're good for my "real world" relationships. Which include my relationships on social media. It's as real as you need to get, because whatever is in your mind is your reality.

And now, back to working on my novel, The Renaissance Club. I hope that by transporting you back to 17th century Renaissance Italy and introducing you to a time-traveling young art historian who gets mixed up about whether she lives in the "then" or "now," the story will support your own inner journey of understanding human nature, love, and time.