Some Key Benefits of Reading Fiction Books

Michael D Schoenfeldt
3 min readMar 15, 2022


Reading is one beneficial hobby anyone can have. It can provide you with the necessary exposure to better understand the world, live a healthier life, improve your financial security, tackle social pressure, and better yourself in general.

However, many people feel like they can only benefit from reading nonfiction pieces. There is this widespread notion that reading fiction books is a waste of time and only serves as a means of escapism. They believe fiction pieces don’t represent the real world they live in and, at best, can be used as an ideal time pass.

This is, however, an erroneous notion as there are many proven important ways people can benefit from reading fiction books, and most of them are psychological.

One of these benefits is improved creativity, judgment, and imagination. Fiction books are products of pure imagination and creativity from the writers. This, in turn, extends to the readers and helps them expand their minds and think creatively.

According to a 2013 University of Toronto research, readers of literary fiction are more likely to be open-minded and think creatively than nonfiction readers.

The research also revealed that people who read short fictitious stories are likely to exercise better judgment and less rigid thinking as they need less cognitive closure. Cognitive closure is a psychological term that refers to a natural inclination to remove obscurity and come to a decisive conclusion, sometimes unreasonably. This usually leads to poor and hasty decisions.

They also concluded that fiction books could make readers more open-minded as they can simulate the thinking style of the characters in a novel, even if they don’t like them.

Another benefit of reading fiction books is that they can help instill empathetic traits in readers. Empathy is an essential trait that everyone needs as it helps to maintain peace and avoid unjust judgment. In other words, If people can see things from the perspective of other people and understand their pain and actions, the world can be more peaceful and better, ultimately.

A 2013 study by researchers in New York School, New York, showed that readers of literary fiction books are more likely to understand the emotions of others than readers of nonfiction books. The researchers divided participants into three groups with differing reading assignments. They assigned each group to read excerpts from either a genre fiction, literary fiction, or nonfiction.

After the assignment, the participants took tests to determine their level of reasoning and understanding of the sentiments of other people.
The results showed a significant difference between readers of the different groups. Readers of genre fiction and nonfiction had underwhelming results compared to those who read literary fiction books, as they showed significant improvements in their empathy.

Also, reading fictitious books like novels can help strengthen connections in different brain parts. This is according to another 2013 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology and Information (NCBI).

The study concluded that reading a novel can improve connectivity between the parts of the brain that performs language processing functions. The study also showed that reading novels causes much longer changes in the somatosensory cortex, the brain part that performs sensory information processing.

Additionally, psychologists say that reading books that require careful thought and higher imagination to break down their contents can cause neurogenesis. Neurogenesis creates neurons in the brain, and neurons are information carriers that help transmit information between different parts of the brain.

Originally published at on March 15, 2022.



Michael D Schoenfeldt

A retired Army colonel based in Kansas City, Kansas, Michael D. Schoenfeldt most recently served as the commander of an armored brigade combat team.