Thursday, May 27, 2010

Want more empathy? Read more fiction!

Just read an article about an interesting study which found that: "People who frequently read narrative fiction scored higher on tests of both empathy (the ability to understand and identify with another person's feelings) and social acumen (the ability to make quick judgments of people and situations)." In addition, the study found that "frequent reading of non-fiction was associated with poorer empathy and social acumen." As I've written in previous posts, empathy is one of the cornerstones of Emotional Intelligence and EI (or EQ) has been shown to be a crucial leadership skill.

With that in mind, thought I'd share the most recent fiction that I thoroughy enjoyed.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery is about a concierge in a French condomium building. She tries diligently to hide her true self from the residents and is found out by a new resident. The other narrator is a young resident who is planning suicide. Quite a look at how we perceive one another and the impact simple kindness can have on others.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese is the story of orphaned twin brothers who are raised by two doctors in Ethiopia. Those who traditionally don't read fiction, and are fascinated by medicine and the history of Ethiopia will enjoy this novel. As you get caught up in the story, you'll also be likely to develop empathy for the characters.

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