The Power of Fiction

When I’m not writing or editing fiction, I write articles. This week, I’m writing a short piece on power bowls (they’re sometimes called Buddha bowls or grain bowls, but regardless of what you call them, they pack a potent nutritional punch, and they’re delicious).

That got me thinking about power in a general sense and about the power of words. The words we speak, the words we write. We’re familiar with the power of a memorable speech to inspire us (Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ or Winston Churchill’s ‘We Shall Fight on the Beaches’ come to mind) or a powerful essay to make us think (E.B. White’s ‘Once More to the Lake’ or Roger Ebert’s ‘Go Gentle into That Good Night’ both do that).’

However, literature has innate power too. Stories and fictional worlds can inspire, provoke and nourish our souls in the same way power bowls nourish our bodies.

According to the Harvard Business Review, recent research in neuroscience suggests that reading literary fiction helps people develop empathy and understanding, as well as critical thinking. It helps reduce stress and make sense of the world too. The bottom line is stories can make us happier.  Research by the University of Liverpool’s Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society (CRISL) says all it takes is thirty minutes a week.

A small investment of time can yield substantial results. And that’s a powerful thing.

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