Pam Belluck, writing for the New York Times' 'Well' blog:
[a study published Thursday in Science] found that after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence — skills that come in especially handy when you are trying to read someone’s body language or gauge what they might be thinking.
She goes on to write:
The idea that what we read might influence our social and emotional skills is not new. Previous studies have correlated various types of reading with empathy and sensitivity. More recently, in a field called “theory of mind,” scientists have used emotional intelligence perception tests to study, for example, children with autism.
But psychologists and other experts said the new study was powerful because it suggested a direct effect — quantifiable by measuring how many right and wrong answers people got on the tests — from reading literature for only a few minutes.
Good thing my debut novel, Whitney, which comes out tomorrow, is literary fiction. Buy it; read it; watch your life improve.