Reading fiction has surprising benefits. We get entertained, identify with characters and experience empathy. We follow characters’ paths through trials and difficulties we sometimes haven’t encountered ourselves.
Watching characters go through their daily lives, readers may come to understand that they aren’t alone with their problems. Everyone has difficulties, whether with parents, siblings, friends, or bosses. Stories often help us realize there are alternatives to what characters experience and alternatives for us as well. Visualization in problem solving trains our minds and enhances our imaginations (Brain Connectivity, Emory University).
Identifying with characters we read about helps us understand that we’re not alone in our lives. Pretty much all stages of life appear in fiction: aging and its problems, the quarrels and betrayals of youth, lovers’ crises like jealousy, break-ups, divorce, grief, illness, even loneliness.
There is no better feeling than sitting in a chair by a window or in front of the fireplace reading a book. The time is ours alone. If nothing else, reading makes us comfortable with being alone and that in itself is a valuable life lesson.