We read for fun but literature can also have a positive effect on our health. As George RR Martin wrote in A Dance of Dragons: “Readers live a thousand lives before he dies, the man who never reads lives only once.” This quote is cherished by voracious readers because it is true: every new book you look at life through different eyes. Doctor of Psychology Joyce Billington explains how this phenonmen affects our mental health: “Reading can offer richer, broader, more complex models of experience, which enable people to view their own lives from a refreshed perspective and with renewed understanding.”
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Non-readers can see things as a one-sided story: our point-of-view and perspective is the only one they experience. Books help us expand this lense which can relieve stress and make our problems more universal. We all go through similar problems and books can be a way of confronting those problems head on by looking through another point-of-view.
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Novels invoke our imagination which make us open to new ideas. “Fiction can help augment and help us understand our social experience.” says psychologist Keith Oatley discussing the link between the psychology and literature. Being able to see things from a different perspective helps you become a more benevolent person, inviting more empathy and understanding.
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