On October 3, 2013, the New York Times published this article:
“Say you are getting ready for a blind date or a job interview. What should you do? Besides shower and shave, of course, it turns out you should read—but not just anything. Something by Chekhov or Alice Munro will help you navigate new social territory better than a potboiler by Danielle Steel.
“That is the conclusion of a study Thursday in the journal Science. It found that after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence—skills that come in especially handy when you are trying to read someone’s body language or gauge what they might be thinking.
“The researchers say the reason is that literary fiction often leaves more to the imagination, encouraging readers to make inference about characters and be sensitive to emotional nuance and complexity.”
Ah, but that begs the question: how can you define literary fiction? My next entry will suggest an answer.