In the last couple of weeks, I’ve stumbled across some fascinating research into the benefits of reading. Not like anyone who reads really needs any more encouragement, but some pretty neat stuff happens to you when you spend time buried in books.
One article I read on the train home from work yesterday explained how reading fiction lowers your need for cognitive closure, which means you have a greater ability to accept and embrace ambiguity. That means you can make better decisions in stressful situations because you’ll be more thoughtful and patient, less panicky, and less inclined to grasp onto whatever you think will get the job done quickly. The article explores how the need for cognitive closure led to the ’93 Waco tragedy. It has some fascinating insights into what happened behind the scenes between a hostage negotiator and the FBI agent in charge.
Another positive side to a low need for cognitive closure is that you’re less likely to be transphobic.
A few days before reading the first article above, I found this piece about how reading fiction increases empathy. So there’s kind of this theme going on here—that reading fiction makes you a better person. Hmmmm. Makes me feel bad for people who don’t read fiction…but then, I guess reading fiction is the reason I feel this way.
And lastly, kids that grow up in a house with stacks of books lying around are more likely to be successful. Good news for my daughter that her daddy hates throwing out books. Not so good for my hoarding-phobic wife.