The dreaded genre label

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Girl reading, Francesso Bartolozzi

It was one of those air-punching moments that brought with it a sense of justification for the countless shelves and the innumerable hours ‘wasted’ with my nose in a book. Reading fiction is good for you. Officially and scientifically. According to a published study reading fiction increases empathy by opening a door on human experience. It transports the reader to situations beyond their own sphere, allows them to predict the characters’ responses and attunes them to the emotional reactions of their fellow man. Basically it says that reading fiction teaches you to read life and people.

Not that the report was needed by those of us who enjoy such works… we’ve known that all along; but there is a peculiar literary coterie who have always looked down bespectacled noses at the readers of fiction and a critical snobbery that renders the escapism of a good story an intellectually guilty pleasure.

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