Jan 05th, 2022

The Benefits of Reading Fiction Literature

Blog post written by Colleen Foy, Wanek Center Librarian, Health Sciences Liaison, and unofficial sponsor for reading in your spare time 😊

Do you ever feel guilty for time spent reading an unputdownable thriller when you know you have course work waiting? Do you find yourself thinking, “I wish I had time to read those NY Times Bestsellers; I can’t possibly fit it in with everything else I have to do!”? If so, I’m here to reassure you to enjoy that leisure reading time and, furthermore, to prioritize it. Research shows reading in general, but also specifically fiction titles, supports you personally and professionally. Read on to learn why and how!

IQ or EQ? You may be surprised at what employers are looking for.

It’s valid to assume IQ alone does not represent an individual’s overall ability to complete a task. However, did you know that employers are strategically expanding recruitment and retainment procedures to include a holistic view of its workforce talent by involving EQ or Emotional Quotient / Intelligence as well? This ability to understand, use, and manage emotions affords us the opportunity to seek and develop positive ways to manage stress, expand communication techniques, and empathize with others.

ben1Although nonfiction titles are valuable sources of knowledge and provide a binary lens to issues, e.g., black & white, right & wrong, good fiction literature often presents characters with competing but equally rational viewpoints much in the way every day problem solving exercises present themselves. Nancy Kidder, facilitator with the nonprofit organization Reflection Point, confirms participants who read, and discuss those readings, are more willing to address and tackle tough questions (harvardbiz, 2020). This willingness is just one of those in-demand emotionally intelligent skills employers desire.

Science wins again: University of Toronto Self-Development Lab Study

ben2Let’s discuss the science that supports this emerging paradigm. Cognitive Closure is an individual’s need to reach a conclusion to a problem with only initial exposure to information. It also involves a rigidity and affinity to the initial conclusion. In other words, this need for closure forces us to solve a problem or form a decision with the most attainable information available and impedes creative thinking that could otherwise expand our viewpoints.

Research conducted at the University of Toronto’s Self-Development Laboratory in 2013 confirmed the value of fiction versus nonfiction reading and the occurrence of open mindedness among its participants. “When one reads fictional literature, one is encouraged to simulate other minds, and is thereby released from concerns for urgency and permanence” allowing for an increased comfort level with ambiguity and the decreased need for order (Djikic et al., 2013, p. 153).

This was important work because it also determined individuals who were habitual readers and practiced in law, medical, and business industries could experience the most long term benefits as this training requires extensive factual information comprehension as well as insight about client, patient/caregiver, and business partner perspectives (Djikic et al., 2013).

Now what?

ben3So where and how do you start reaping the benefits of fiction reading (if you’re not already)? Right here at HPU Libraries of course! The Smith Library Reader Space can guide you to your favorite genres as well as introduce you to new stories and characters in areas you’ve yet to visit. Fantasy, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction, and historical fiction titles are available by browsing the shelves, stacks, and our catalogue at HPU Libraries. Our eBook and audiobook collections are also available on OverDrive. And don’t forget about our Book Club. Meetings start in January and will convene monthly; click HERE for more information.

Regardless of how and where you do your reading, only good can come from this healthy habit. We’ll see you soon at HPU Libraries!



Djikic, M., Oatley, K., & Moldoveanu, M. C. (2013). Opening the closed mind: The effect of exposure to literature on the need for closure. Creativity Research Journal, 25(2), 149-154. https://doi.org/10.1080/10400419.2013.783735

Harvardbiz. (2020). The case for reading fiction. Retrieved 2021-12-27, from https://hbr.org/2020/03/the-case-for-reading-fiction

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