Reading is Good

Science Says Readers Are Better Lovers

Science Says Readers Are Better Lovers

This article was originally published on EliteDaily.com. Ever finished a book? I mean, truly finished one? Cover to cover. Closed the spine with that slow awakening that comes with reentering consciousness? You take a breath, deep from the bottom of your lungs and sit there. Book in both hands, your head staring down at the cover, back page or wall in front of you. You’re grateful, thoughtful, pensive. You feel like a piece of you was just gained and lost. You’ve just experienced something deep, something intimate. (Maybe, erotic?) You just had an intense and somewhat transient metamorphosis. Like falling in love with a stranger you will never see again, you ache with the yearning and sadness of an ended affair, but at the same time, feel satisfied. Full from the experience, the connection, the richness that comes after digesting another soul. You feel fed, if only for a little while. This type of reading, according to TIME magazine’s Annie Murphy Paul, is called “deep reading,” a practice that is soon to be extinct now that people are skimming more and reading less. Readers, like voicemail leavers and card writers, are now a dying breed, their numbers decreasing with every GIF list and online tabloid. The worst part about this looming extinction is that readers are proven to be nicer and smarter than the average human, and maybe the only people worth falling in love with on this shallow hell on earth. According to both 2006 and 2009 studies published by Raymond Mar, a psychologist at York University in Canada, and Keith Oatley, a professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, those who read fiction are capable of the most empathy and “theory of mind,” which is the ability to hold opinions, beliefs and interests apart from their own. They can entertain other ideas, without rejecting them and still retain their own. While this is supposed to be an innate trait in all humans, it requires varying levels of social experiences to bring into fruition and probably the reason your last partner was such a narcissist. Did you ever see your ex with a book? Did you ever talk about books? If you didn’t, maybe you should think about changing your type. It’s no surprise that readers are better people. Having experienced someone else’s life through abstract eyes, they’ve learned what it’s like to leave their bodies and...

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