OPINION: Reading fiction can change way you see world


Gabriella Di Lalla

Sophomore Erin Kerr reads the ACOTAR series during her study hall.

Gabriella Di Lalla, Staff Writer

People all over the world have different opinions based on reading but they don’t fully know the extent to which reading can change you.

Reading fiction can and will change your personality and the way you view the world while also being able to engage in an activity like reading can make a person more empathetic and have more emotional intelligence toward different social situations.

Heather Wellendorf the high school librarian and she believes reading changes the way people perceive life. She said, “Reading lets you experience another’s perspective and hopefully makes you more empathetic.”

John Sullivan is an English teacher and he believes that education can come through reading. He said, “Can open up your mind to the world. That comes through reading.”

People are affected by what they hear and see every day, which successfully affects personality and the way we live. Chewe Kalamata from Life and Reading wrote, “Sometimes these alterations can be small but with an intentional activity like reading, a change in personality can easily be detected.”

Fiction books can increase empathy in oneself and create a better world, Canadian psychologist, Steven Pinker shows just this by writing, “Reading, and thereby literacy, could cause changes in an individual’s behavior that then collectively lead to a decline in violence and create a more free and tolerant society.”

Wellendorf thinks reading is benefical. She said, “Reading can expand your vocabulary, enhance your imagination and even help you feel less stressed and anxious.”

Pinker also expresses the brain stimulation when reading fiction and how that affects the way people think. He wrote, “Exposure to these genres of fiction can help an individual better understand the thoughts and needs of others.”

Sullivan thinks reading can expose you to different topics. He said, “It will also help you critical think and make decisions for yourself.”

When reading fiction books, imagination is high and key details are noticed within texts. People can point out specific aspects that they may not have been able to before, especially with people all around them.

The Harvard Business Review’s, Christine Seifert, relates reading to the business world and how fiction reading can heighten critical thinking which can lead to more strength in a person. He wrote, “In other words, the act of reading is the very activity—if done right—that can develop the qualities, traits, and characteristics of those employees that organizations hope to attract and retain.”

Wellendorf believes emotional intellgiance is a good trait. She said, “It facilitates our capacity for resilience and our ability to navigate a variety of social situations, either good or negative ones.”

Reading fiction can give a person life experience and a well-rounded personality, which can be seen in a study conducted by John Stansfield, and Louise Bunce who explained the relationship between empathy and reading a fiction book. They wrote, “Specifically, it indicates that reading fiction relates differently to cognitive and affective empathy.”

When reading fiction people can get out of their heads and understand another point of view while also gaining more intellect and comprehension, a physicist, Younes Henni, conveys this about how people of all ages can experience a change in themselves through the reading of fiction. “Reading fiction makes you perform better on empathy and social intelligence tests,” wrote Henni.

Diana Tamir is a psychologist at the Princeton Social Neuroscience Lab who conducted a study about fiction readers compared to the way our brains react. By reading fiction people can fathom different parts of life better, specifically in social life. She wrote, “Using brain scans, she has found that while reading fiction, there is more activity in parts of the default mode network of the brain that are involved in simulating what other people are thinking.”

Wellendorf has even noticed a change in herself after reading. She said, “I always notice a change in myself after reading. I find that I am more relaxed, I contemplate new vocabulary I learned and make a point of trying to use it. Overall, I feel the world looks a little brighter.”

Sullivan has also noticed a change in himself after reading. He said, “Oh for sure. All the time. All the time. I read consistently, constantly, and some books I like some books I don’t like but as much as I am a teacher I am a student.

Reading certain words or phrases in fiction books can also elicit a reaction within people that will increase their empathy in a larger and better way. “When they are in danger, our hearts start to race. We might even gasp. But we read with [the] luxury of knowing that none of this is happening to us,” wrote psychologist Kieth Oatley.

Start reading fiction now. You can see a change in empathetic levels within yourself and gain emotional intelligence towards other people around you.