Read More, Hate Less
In a 2015 exchange, Barack Obama told American novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson that the most important things he learned about being a citizen came from novels. He said it “had to do with empathy, with being comfortable with the notion that the world is complicated and full of greys, and that it’s possible to connect with somebody even if they’re different from you.”
50% of proceeds from the sale of "Read more. Hate less." items will be donated to us! Proceeds from these sales will go to support libraries and ensure that Americans are allowed the freedom to read what they chose at their local libraries.
Science agrees. Researchers say reading fiction can show us different viewpoints — and shape how we relate to each other. Perhaps it's not terribly shocking that reading a great story will improve your perceptions of other people. But nonetheless it's good to know that those hours you set aside for reading really are making a difference.
That’s because literary fiction is essentially an exploration of the human experience, says Keith Oatley, a novelist and professor emeritus of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto.
“Reading novels enables us to become better at actually understanding other people and what they’re up to,” says Oatley. “[With] someone who you’re married to ... or a close friend, you can actually get to know them. Reading fiction enables you to sample across a much wider range of possible people and come to understand something about the differences among them.”
Although there are many ways to cultivate empathy, they largely involve practicing positive social behaviors, like getting to know others, putting yourself in their shoes and challenging one's own biases. And stories — fictional ones in particular — offer another way to step outside of oneself.
Fiction has the capacity to transport you into another character’s mind, allowing you to see and feel what they do. This can expose us to life circumstances that are very different from our own. Through fiction, we can experience the world as another gender, ethnicity, culture, sexuality, profession or age. Words on a page can introduce us to what it's like to lose a child, be swept up in a war, be born into poverty, or leave home and immigrate to a new country. And taken together, this can influence how we relate to others in the real world.
“Fiction and stories do a lot of things for us,” says William Chopik, a psychologist at the University of Michigan. “They expose us to uncomfortable ideas ... and provide us with the opportunity to take other peoples’ perspectives in a safe, distanced way. In that way, fiction serves as a playground for exercising empathic skills.”
That's why EveryLibrary is so proud to announce that:
Through June 15, 2022, 50% of proceeds from the sale of "Read more. Hate less." items will be donated to us! Proceeds from these sales will go to support libraries and ensure that Americans are allowed the freedom to read what they chose at their local libraries.