Can’t Understand People? Grab a Book

Posted by: Trish Smyth
  • August 2, 2018

booksIf you, like us, are students of humans, you might have noticed that they can be… a little weird. They collectively check their phones in elevators even though everyone knows they don’t have service. They charge their phones when they’re at 93% but wait until their gas tank hits the red light before filling up. They say, “You too!” to the flight attendant who tells them to “Have a nice flight!” and really seem to believe that protein bars are healthier than candy. (Most of the time, they’re only fooling themselves.)

If you’ve caught yourself watching your coworkers, neighbors, friends, and family and wondering, with perplexity, why they would do some of the things that they do, it’s time to pick up a book.

Not just any book – a literary fiction book, because literary fiction focuses on a character’s psychology and relationships. A 2013 study found that reading literary fiction increases empathy. Although psychologists have not been able to replicate this results, they have found a correlation between lifelong reading and significantly higher scores on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET), i.e., a test of social intelligence.

Even if psychologists can’t definitively prove correlation vs. causation, reading a book can’t hurt. Reading allows us to explore the values of other cultures, examine alternative perspectives, and understand people on a deeper level. Tools to imagine the future. In short, reading is a great way for humans to understand humans, the ultimate goal here at LRW.

Here’s what we’ve been reading this summer.

Literary fiction, so we can understand each other:

Business, so we can understand our work:

 Nonfiction, so we can understand ourselves:

Pop fiction, so that, through it all, we can have a good time:

What are you reading this summer? Have books helped you understand people? Tell us in the comments.

Add Your Comment