Your Brain on Literature: Background information when reading Someone

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by Alice McDermott

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  • First Published:
    Sep 2013, 240 pages
    Oct 2014, 240 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sharry Wright

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Your Brain on Literature

Reading quiet, literary fiction, like Someone, nudges us towards contemplation and self-examination. But according to a recent study conducted at the New School for Social Research in New York, it may do even more. This much-publicized study, "Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind," concludes that reading literary fiction can better the ability to "read" the thoughts and feelings of others. The researchers, Ph.D candidate David Comer Kidd; and professor of psychology, Emanuele Castano; suggest that this is achieved by an increase in empathy and the ability to recognize and share the feelings of others.

But first, perhaps, we should try to define the somewhat ambiguous line between literary and popular fiction. Castano outlines the difference this way: Popular fiction tends to focus on plot, and characters tend to be more stereotypical—the hero and the antagonist are clear-cut from the beginning, while "literary fiction focuses on the psychology and inner life of the...

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